The Enkianthus campanulatus
One of the acidophilic plants still not widespread in Italy, the enkianthus comes from Asia, and in particular from Japan; It is a shrub of medium size, deciduous, which can reach 2-3 meters in height, even if it has slow growth and therefore the maximum dimensions can only be reached over many years. It has a well rounded and ample development, the ramifications are dense, and often from each internode various small branches are produced; the foliage is green, oval or lanceolate, gathered in small bunches, called verticils, at the apex of each single branch. Before falling, in autumn, the leaves of these shrubs become very decorative, because their color from bright green turns to orange or red.
In spring, at the apex of the branches, small, hanging clusters of bell-shaped flowers are produced, white, pink or red, which make the whole shrub very decorative and bloom within a few weeks.
Grow the Enkianthus
Like most acidophilic plants, the only problem we will encounter when cultivating enkianthus is the soil: these plants do not tolerate the presence of limestone in the soil, they need an acid pH soil; in many areas of Italy, unfortunately, the soil is calcareous or clayey, and does not allow long life for acidophilic plants, also the water of many aqueducts and wells is very rich in limestone, and contributes to making the soil's pH alkaline.
We will therefore have to prepare the right environment in which to grow our specimen by practicing a large planting hole, which we will fill with specific soil for acidophilic plants; later we will practice watering with rainwater, in order to avoid that the soil receives the limestone present in the water of the aqueduct. In the course of the years it is however advisable to add at the foot of the plant further peat soil, well suited to the cultivation of acidophilic plants.
Enkianthus loves semi-shaded and cool places, not excessively dry; so let's position it where it is sheltered from direct sunlight, especially during the hottest hours of the day; this plant does not fear the cold, it can therefore be placed directly in the garden, because it also bears intense and prolonged frosts, being in winter in full vegetative rest.
From March to September the waterings will be regular, especially with regard to the young specimens and the dry periods; however, we avoid excesses and water only when rainfall is scarce or the soil tends to dry out a lot. In spring and autumn we spread at the foot of the shrub of a good slow release granular fertilizer, which possibly contains greening substances
To obtain new plants of this variety it is possible to proceed with the cuttings technique. These should be prepared during the spring period and should be placed in a compound in which peat, sand and soil have been mixed. These cuttings should be left to take root in this arrangement, before being finally settled.
Diseases and pests
This variety of plant is rather rustic and resistant and is hardly attacked by pests and diseases. However, it is necessary to check that there are no dangerous stagnation of water or that there is not an excessive level of humidity, as root rot or fungal diseases could arise which would compromise the health of the plant.