Escallonia Red Elf or New Zealand Privet Red Elf is a superb evergreen hedging plant, particular good in coastal areas. The Red Elf variety has small, tubular, dark red flowers that emerge from June to October. A great fit for coastal gardens, this compact shrub will reach a max height of about 1 metre making it is a good choice as a low growing hedge.
The Genus Escallonia is known for its colour and beautiful flowers. A native of Chile, this group of evergreens can handle full sun and various planting conditions, even rockery soils. Between the flowering colours of white (Escallonia Iveyi), red (Escallonia Red Dream), pinkish (Escallonia Apple Blossom) or crimson as with the Red Elf, the deep green foliage makes this a year-round beauty in most any low shrub application.
Escallonia Red Elf with its deep crimson flowers is not much different than its relatives, other than its unique flower colour. They prefer fertile, well-drained soils with full sun, though they can tolerate partial shade. A fairly wide range in terms of pH, they do great in near neutral, slightly acid, and slightly alkaline soils. As long as the site is well drained, is fertile and holds moisture. The texture can range or be comprised of any mix of chalk, clay, loam or sand. They can be exposed or sheltered and aspect preferences from greatest to least would be North-South-East-West. They flower from May to August and are considered fully hardy to zone H4.
The compact shrub habit makes the Escallonia Red Elf a great choice for low growing interior border hedges of a larger garden space or a perimeter border that doesn’t overwhelm. The perennial dark green colour of their foliage, which can have a pleasant resin which adds to their glossy shade and leathery feel, casts a year round colour that is an interesting feature around the garden space while other plants may come and go through their respective growth and dieback. Their tolerance to salty air and coastal breezes makes New Zealand Privet Red a popular choice to complement coastal gardens.
In the very harshest of winters, Escallonia may lose some of its leaves, but the density of its growth fills in after cleaning out the occasional scorched leaves. This dense habit also lends itself as a wind break. They only reach approximately 1 metre in height and about 1.0-1.3 metres in spread and are fairly long-lived and moderately fast growers.