Description: This deciduous shrub is of interest because of the red tones of its new growth and for its small bell-shaped flowers. The flowers are quite inconspicuous, but when looked at closely are an interesting yellowish-orange veined with red. They are one of the numerous things of great beauty in the plant world that have to be viewed at close range rather than from a distance. The shrub is said by some to grow to 30 feet tall although I have never seen one approaching that height, and 15 to 20 feet maximum would seem a more reasonable size to expect. We do not shear our plants too heavily as we feel this is a shrub that should get tall in a hurry, as the flowers should be viewed at eye level or from below for the best effect.
Enkianthus is a member of the Heath family and requires about the same soil situation as rhododendrons or azaleas, a peaty, well-drained soil on the acid side. This plant can stand some shade, but like most other shade tolerant plants, it will do much better in full sun.
From many thousand seedlings, we have selected a clone which we have named ‘Summer Hill’. This is a good, upright clone with large leaves, good red stems and quite a bit of red in the flower – excellent fall color. It gives us a crop that is uniform and also devoid of the twiggy, nasty looking little plants we sometimes grew using seedlings for liners. If you like Enkianthus, this is a good one to try.