How to Grow and Care for Griselinia

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Griselinia is a small genus of evergreen shrubs that are used for hedging, but can also be grown as small trees. The most popular species is Griselinia littoralis. Most of the species are native to South America, but two, including G. littoralis, are native to New Zealand.

Griselinia littorallis is an evergreen shrub often used and suitable for use as hedging. This is a fast-growing shrub. Native to New Zealand, this plant is hardy in large parts of Europe. 

This perennial plant, Griselinia littoralis, is grown as an ornamental and produces inconspicuous yellow flowers in early Summer and purple berries later on. 

The fruits need both male and female plants in order to form so if planted singly, the griselinia won’t produce berries.


Although some species of Griselinia were introduced in the 18th century, it wasn’t until the mid 19th century that G. littoralis was introduced to Europe and started to be cultivated in gardens.

The name “Griselinia” was selected in honor of the Italian botanist and naturalist Francesco Griselini.

Plant Facts

Scientific nameGriselinia littoralis
Common namesGriselinia, kapuka, papauma, kawariki
FamilyGriseliniaceae, formerly Cornaceae
Height13 to 60 feet (18.29 m) 
Width6 to 10 feet (3.05 m)
USDA Plant Hardiness ZoneZones 6 to 9
Native toNew Zealand, South America
Blooming seasonSummer
Flower colorsyellow
Plant specific featuresPurple fruits follow flowers if both sexes are grown together

How to Plant and Grow Griselinia Bushes

Where to Plant

Unlike many plants, griselinia will grow and thrive in coastal locations. It is tolerant to salt in the air and will tolerate both cold and a certain amount of wind exposure. 

Choose griselinia if you live by the sea and wish to provide a windbreak for other garden plants that may not be so hardy. However, it won’t do well if planted in a site that is too exposed.

Griselinia is a fast-growing shrub, which is one of the reasons it is an excellent shrub to use for hedging purposes. It can be left to grow naturally, or it can be trimmed if you prefer a tidy hedge. 

It will grow upright if left untrimmed. If planting in front of a wall, leave a space of around 50 cm between the shrub and the wall. This will ensure that the plant can row evenly.

Birds and other wildlife appreciate the small purple berries that follow the flowers, and the evergreen and dense foliage provides shelter and cover. For these reasons, griselinia is a good choice of shrub for a nature or wildlife garden.

When to Plant

Many griselinia shrubs are sold in containers. Nursery-grown, containerized shrubs can be planted year-round. However, it is always best to avoid planting during extreme heat or cold. And, obviously, if the ground is frozen you cannot plant anything! 

Planting in the fall is less work than planting in the Spring. This is because the ground will naturally be more moist in the Autumn. Less watering will be required during the first growing season. 

If you are planting a hedge of griselinia, you will need multiple plants. A more cost-effective option is to buy bare-rooted plants. Bare-rooted shrubs can only be sourced and planted during the winter when the plant is in its dormant season. 

Griselinia Shrub Care and Maintenance


Soil needs to be well-draining, but griselinia will thrive in most soil types.  For the best growing conditions, G. littoralis should be planted in soil that is fairly light and sandy. It will tolerate salt, so it can be planted in coastal gardens.


A newly planted shrub needs regular watering for its first growing season. During this time, it will be establishing a robust root network, and these new roots must not be allowed to dry out. 

The best method for efficient irrigation is to water deeply, but not too often. Allowing the soil to dry out between watering will result in the best-growing conditions for the shrub. 

This will also allow the plant to grow deep roots, enabling it to survive even when there is little rainfall.

Applying the water slowly will help to ensure that the water isn’t wasted. It will be able to sink down into the soil and not simply run away. 


When planting a griselinia shrub, add some organic fertilizer to the soil around the plant’s roots. This will encourage it to establish quickly and promote a healthy plant.

After planting, using a liquid fertilizer monthly during the growing season will encourage vigorous new shoots and promote root growth. Use a product designed for evergreen shrubs, and don’t apply fertilizer after the end of the summer. 

If you apply an organic mulch around the base of the plant, this will help to suppress weed growth and also retain moisture in the ground. It’s important that the mulch doesn’t come into direct contact with the stem of the shrub, as this can lead to fungal disease and rot.


For best results and a healthy plant, find a spot that receives plenty of sunlight for the griselinia shrub. However, griselinia is a tolerant evergreen and will still thrive if planted in partial shade. 

Pruning and Repotting

An annual pruning will be required if you wish to keep a griselinia hedge in check. Left unpruned, this shrub can grow up to 60 feet (18.29 m) in height, which is too tall for most hedges! 

The best time to prune griselinia is in mid to late Summer. It is not advisable to prune in the Autumn as this can encourage vigorous new growth at the end of the season. 

These tender shoots might not have time to harden off before the onset of winter and the cold temperatures.


The best way to propagate griselinia is to take semi-ripe cuttings in the Summer. Semi-ripe cuttings are short pieces of stem that are from the current season’s growth but just starting to turn woody. 

These 4” pieces of the stem should root easily, and you can speed up the rooting process if desired by using hormone rooting powder.

Pests and diseases

Generally, griselinia is trouble-free. Providing you plant the shrub in well-draining soil, and in its hardiness zones, you shouldn’t experience disease or pest problems.

If the griselinia is subjected to hard frosts, then some of its foliage may die. This damage is not permanent, and the shrub will soon recover as soon as the temperatures warm up again. 

Occasionally, leaf spots may cause cosmetic damage to the evergreen foliage, but this will not harm the health of the plant. Leaf spots can cause premature leaf drop or blackening of the leaves. 

It is caused by a fungus and can be treated with an organic fungicide. Providing the griselinia is planted in well-draining soil, it should recover fully. 

You may find that scale insect attacks the plant, but this is not usually serious and can be treated by an application of horticultural oil.

Temperature and Humidity

Avoid excess humidity as this can provoke fungal diseases. Native to New Zealand, it is important to choose a species that is suitable for your climate. For example, Griselinia lucida is not a species that is sufficiently frost hardy to grow in the UK. 

Other Uses for Griselinia

The most common use for griselinia in the garden is to use it as a hedging plant. With its dense, apple-green, evergreen foliage, t.his shrub is a lovely addition. 

If you are planting multiple plants for this purpose, then they should be spaced at around 50 cm. For most gardens, the height of the hedge should be kept at about 2 m

Types of Griselinia You Can Grow

The two species native to New Zealand are much larger shrubs or trees than the species that hail from South America.

There are five South American species of Griselinia, all of which are commonly referred to as “Yelmo”.

The benefits of growing G. littoralis have been recognized by the Royal Horticultural Society that has awarded this shrub “Award of Garden Merit” status. Its popularity in gardens is due to its fast-growing habit, making it suitable for hedges. 

In addition, its evergreen leaves are an attractive light green shade, making it a pretty choice to accompany vivid-colored shrubs.

A variegated form of G. littoralis is available, Griselinia littoralis “Dixon’s Cream”. This adds even more garden interest due to its evergreen glossy, green leaves that are outlined with a creamy color.


Griselina has become one of the best-selling plants for hedging, and it is easy to see why. With such pretty colored evergreen foliage, this shrub requires minimal care once established.

*image by stillfx/depositphotos

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