How To Plant & Care For Distylium Plants

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This article provides tips for how to plant and care for Distylium plants
by Brett · All Zones · Planting · 0 Comments · August 26, 2015 · 9,871 views

Distylium is exceptionally easy to grow provided you plant them right, and in the right spot. Here's a breakdown of what you need to know...


Sun Needs
Distylium will take all the sun you can give it but also grows well in moderate shade. We recommend at least 5 hours of direct sunlight a day.

Soil Preferences
Distylium isn't too picky about soil type and will tolerate a dry or wet soil, however prefers a moist, well-drained soil. When planting in dense clay soil, I recommend mixing in some good organic matter with soil removed from the planting hole.

If you are uncertain about soil drainage in the planting area, test drainage before planting by digging a starter hole 12" wide by 12" deep. Fill the hole with water and let it drain. After it drains fill it with water again but this time clock how long it takes to drain. In well-drained soil the water level will go down at a rate of about 1 inch an hour. A faster rate, such as in sandy soil, may signal potentially dry site conditions; a slower rate is a caution you might need to improve drainage.

Soil pH
Distylium prefer growing in an acid to slightly acid soil ranging from 5.0 to 6.5 on the pH scale, though will tolerate a neutral to slightly alkaline soil. Most average garden soils range between 6.0 to 7.0 on the pH scale.

Soil pH is a measurement of the alkalinity or acidity of soil and is measured on a scale of 1-14, with 7 as the neutral mark. Any measurement below 7 indicates acid soil conditions, and anything above 7 indicates alkaline. If you're unsure about the pH of your soil, or suspect your soil is outside the range this plant prefers, test the pH. You can test soil pH with a soil pH tester probe or soil test kit. To lower the pH (make more acid) apply soil sulfur, aluminum sulfate, or chelated iron. To raise the pH (decrease acidit or make more alkaline) you can add pelletized limestone to the soil.

Planting Tips


How far apart you space your Distylium will depend on how you intend to use them in the landscape. For solid hedges space plants 1 to 2 feet "on center" closer together than the listed mature width of the plant, which means from the center of one plant in the hedge row to the center of the next plant. If you want space between your Distylium plants space them 2 or more feet further than the listed mature width of the plant.


Step 1
If your soil drains well, start by digging your planting hole at least two to three times as wide and no deeper than the root ball of the plant. The wider the hole the better. Place native soil removed from planting hole around the perimeter of the hole, in a wheel barrow, or on a tarp.

Step 2
Depending on the type, fertility and porosity of the soil in the planting area you might need to mix in a soil amendment to the native soil removed from the planting hole. When planting in dense clay or poor soil it is beneficial to thoroughly mix in some good organic matter, such as composted cow manure, mushroom compost, sand, and/or a good planting mix at a 50/50 ratio with the soil. When planting in very sandy, quick-draining soil you might want to consider mixing in some top soil, peat moss and/or compost to help retain moisture. When planting in fertile, loamy, well-drained soil there is no need for adding a soil amendment.

Step 3
To remove a Distylium from the container it was growing in, firmly grasp the plant by its base and gently try to lift and remove the root ball from the container. If the root ball is stuck in the pot either cut the container away or place the plant on it's side and gently pound on the side of the container to loosen the root ball. After having removed the plant from the container, gently loosen some feeder roots around the surface of the root ball.

 PictureStep 4
Set your Dystilium in the planting hole so that the top edge of the rootball is at or preferably slightly above ground level (1-inch or so), to allow for settling. In constantly soggy soils plant with the root ball 2 to 3 inches above ground level.

Step 5
After setting your Distylium in the planting hole, use one hand to hold the plant straight and your other hand to begin back-filling your soil mixture around the root ball, tamping as you go to remove air pockets. When you have filled the hole to the halfway point you can soak the soil. Then continue back-filling to the top edge of the root ball. If you are planting higher than ground level taper your soil mixture gradually from the top edge of the root ball to the ground level, as shown in the planting diagram above. To avoid suffocating your plant, do not put any soil on top of the root ball.

Step 6 (Optional)
When planting your Distylium in an area that you won't be able to water easily, you can use remaining soil mixture to build a water retaining berm (catch basin) around the outside perimeter of the planting hole. This basin will help to collect water from rainfall and irrigation often reducing the need for hand-watering. The berm can be removed after a couple growing seasons.

Step 7
Apply a 1 to 2" layer of aged, shredded or chipped wood mulch or pine straw around the planting area to concerve moisture and to suppress weed growth. Do not use freshly chipped or shredded wood for mulch until it has cured in a pile for at least 6 months, a year is better. Avoid placing or piling mulch directly against the base of the shrub as this could cause the bark to rot.

Care & Maintenance Tips


Immediately after planting your Distylium, deep soak the planting area to a depth of at least 6 or 8 inches. Make sure to water the root ball too. An application of Root Stimulator will provide an extra boost to stimulate early root formation and stronger root development.

You should not have to water your newly planted Distylium every day. Water only as needed to keep the rootball and surrounding soil damp to moist during the first growing season or until the plant has established a good root syetm. Deep soaking and allowing the soil to dry out somewhat before watering again is much better than splashing just a little water every day. During the winter dormant season plants will require much less water. If you see new leaves wilting or the tips of stems bending over on established plants during dry weather this could be a sign your plant needs a deep soaking.


To maintain deep green foliage and support growth and overall health of the plant, feed your Distylium in spring with a slow-release shrub & tree fertilizer. Alternatively, you can feed with a natural organic plant food. To avoid stimulating new growth that could be damaged by an early frost, cease fertilization two months prior to the first frost date in your area.


Distylium does not require pruning however responds well to it. Any heavy pruning to reduce the size of the plant should be done after flowering in late winter. Light pruning or shearing can be performed during summer. To avoid damaging new growth that often emerges after a pruning, cease pruning 2 months prior to the average first frost date in your area.

You can buy Distylium online from Gardener Direct Plant Nursery

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