Edgeworthia Information: Learn About Paperbush Plant Care
By: Teo Spengler
Many gardeners love to discover a new plant for the shade garden. If you aren’t familiar with paperbush (Edgeworthia chrysantha), it’s a fun and unusual flowering shrub. It flowers early in spring, filling the nights with magical fragrance. In summer, the blue-green slender leaves turn Edgeworthia paperbush into a mounding bush. If the idea of planting paperbush is appealing, read on for tips on how to grow a paperbush.
Paperbush is truly an unusual shrub. If you start growing paperbush, you are in for a lovely ride. The shrub is deciduous, losing its leaves in winter. But even as paperbush leaves are yellowing in fall, the plant develops large clusters of tubular buds.
According to Edgeworthia information, the outside of the bud clusters are coated in white silky hairs. The buds hang on the bare branches all winter, then, in late winter or early spring, open into canary-colored flowers. The Edgeworthia paperbush flowers remain on the bush for three weeks. They exude a powerful perfume in the evening.
Soon the long, slender leaves grow in, turning the shrub into a mound of attractive foliage that can grow to 6 feet (1.9 m.) in each direction. The leaves turn buttery yellow in autumn after the first frost.
Interestingly, the shrub gets its name from the bark, which is used in Asia to make high-quality paper.
How to Grow a Paperbush
You’ll be happy to learn that paperbush plant care isn’t difficult. The plants thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 9, but may require some winter protection in zone 7.
Paperbush appreciates a growing site with organically rich soil and excellent drainage. They also grow best in a very shady location. But paperbush also does okay in full sun as long as it gets generous irrigation.
This is not a drought-tolerant plant. Regular irrigation is an important part of paperbush plant care. If you are growing paperbush and do not give the shrub enough to drink, its beautiful blue-green leaves go limp almost immediately. According to Edgeworthia paperbush information, you can return the plant to healthy status by offering it a good drink.
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The Edgeworthia Chrysantha (Paperbush Plant) Full Care Guide
The Paperbush Plant, otherwise known as the Edgeworthia Chrysantha or Paperbush, Paper Bush, Oriental Paper Bush, is a rather well known shrub plant by gardening enthusiasts around the world.
Best known for its average maintenance and moderate growth, this shrub will likely liven up your house (or garden) with its silver-green colored leaves. But, only if you learn how to take proper care of it for it to thrive.
Fortunately, taking care of your Paperbush Plant is not too difficult – as long as you follow our guidelines in this Paperbush Plant Care Guide. Now let’s get started.
The basic care guidelines you need to remember for your Paperbush Plant are the following:
- Water: The Paperbush Plant needs evenly spread moist soil – try to avoid letting the soil dry out.
- Light: Keep your Edgeworthia Chrysantha in an environment where it can receive full shade to partial sun on a daily basis.
- Soil: Make sure to keep the Paperbush Plant in soil with moist but well-draining properties, so ideally, one that is made of loam.
And that’s practically it! If you keep these three factors in check, your Paperbush Plant will likely have all it needs for it to survive and even thrive.
Paperbush Edgeworthia chrysantha
- Type Deciduous shrub
- Life Span Perennial
- USDA Zones 7-10
- Water Light, once established
- Light Full sun to partial shade
- Height 4-6 feet
- Bud & Bloom Color Creamy yellow, red more rare
- Flowering Season Very early spring
- Design Tip Pair with dark plants
- Best Use Try as a specimen
Paperbush: A Field Guide
For centuries Japan has been using paperbush bark to make high-quality mitsumata paper—hence its name—while elsewhere the paperbush enjoys a reputation as more of a collectors’ plant.
The fragrant Edgeworthia chyrsantha offers high design in all four seasons. In late winter its slightly furry buds swell. In spring they burst forth on dark brown bare wood with typically creamy yellow blooms. Then come blue-green, almost tropical, leaves in summer. The paperbush is generally easy to grow. Try placing near your entryway to take advantage of its fragrance. For fun, seek out the ‘Ruby Splash’ red-flowered form.
Edgeworthia Species, Oriental Paper Bush
|Genus:||Edgeworthia (edj-WOR-thee-uh) (Info)|
|Species:||chrysantha (kris-ANTH-uh) (Info)|
Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
Where to Grow:
Soil pH requirements:
From semi-hardwood cuttings
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:
Washington, District of Columbia
Burlington, North Carolina
Castle Hayne, North Carolina
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Greensboro, North Carolina
Kure Beach, North Carolina
Winston Salem, North Carolina
Saunderstown, Rhode Island
Charleston, South Carolina
North Augusta, South Carolina
West Columbia, South Carolina
On Mar 11, 2021, NCMstGardener from Columbus, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:
Our Edgeworthias bloom about the first of February here in zone 7B. We have a mass planting at the side of the house that is viewable from the road. They stop traffic. No garden should be without this plant
On Apr 23, 2018, nothingfails from YAMBOL UPPER THRACE,
Bulgaria (Zone 7b) wrote:
Died. Not heat/ drought/sun tolerant at all. Flowers not very fragrant, no wafting/ filling the air scent. Flower buds did not open this Spring. We had a one time drop of temp to -11C(12F) which might have killed them. See image uploaded by me.
On Feb 16, 2017, HappyPet from Whitwell, TN wrote:
Oriental Paper Bush (Edgeworthia chrysanta):
I have seen this bush only once @ Gibbs Gardens, Ball Ground, GA which was blooming in March 2016 while I was touring their daffodil gardens. Though there were few to no leaves existing, the fragrance was "wonderful: consequently I will be ordering for my own garden in TN.
On Jan 16, 2017, RebeccaLynn from Winston Salem, NC (Zone 7a) wrote:
I bought two plants from a local perennial nursery last spring. Worried that the heat would be too great in the sunny spot I planted it. Watered it regularly through the hot, dry summer and it survived. We had a cold snap last week with temperatures down to 6 degrees F and 8 inches of snow. So far so good. The blooms don't appear close to opening yet, but they are still surviving. I'm hoping for the best. Neighbors walking their dogs are curious about this peculiar looking plant.
On Dec 5, 2016, sba from Roswell, GA wrote:
So far in pots in my front yard, it has gone thru a long period of drought and still survived. I watered it during this period by saturating the pots every 10 days or so. The leaves are falling off now and the buds look healthy. I am wondering how these will fair in pots once the really cold weather comes. Also I saw a huge one growing in downtown Atlanta recently.
On Apr 5, 2015, ColaShade206 from Columbia, SC wrote:
@paperBush57: How's your plant doing? I noticed you are in West Cola, SC. I'm in Columbia (in town) and just last week planted an Edgeworthia 'snow cream' as a focal point in a backyard shade garden. I'm very excited to see how it matures. Hope your plant is doing well.
On Jul 20, 2014, pdayrda from Ravenel, SC wrote:
I have not grown this, but want too. But very confused. I have read several articles and they all say prefers shade or light dappled sun. A lady here in charleston has one and it's planted in full shade and doing great.
On Jun 13, 2014, woodylover from Provincetown, MA (Zone 7a) wrote:
Having seen an edgeworthia (E. papyrifera) in MD, and guided by plant envy, I decided to try one up north, but since E. chrysantha was listed as hardier I decided to try it instead. What a nice plant: amazing spring blooms, intensely fragrant. I really like the contrast of it's large leaves to the more delicate plants in the garden. It's habit of branching in threes instead of opposite or alternate like most plants is also refreshing.
On Jun 1, 2014, hankbates from BARNSTABLE, MA wrote:
We planted one around 15 years ago in Barnstable, MA (Cape Cod, Zone 7) in an exposed location about 6 feet from the northeast wall of the house. The first winter it struggled, but after that it bloomed every year it also survived one winter when it briefly reached -8.
When we sold the home a year and a half ago it had reached 8' in height and about 15' across.
In our new home (Yarmouth Port, 6 miles east) we planted a red flowering cultivar (some say this is E. papyrifera) which has struggled each spring to leaf out, and has not flowered. I have purchased another yellow flowering E. chrysantha 'Winter Gold" from the original source, we are anxious to see how they work out.
On Jan 23, 2014, paperBush57 from West Columbia, SC wrote:
Just bought an oriental paper bush.
how tolerant is it to late sunny afternoon with heat?
On Apr 28, 2013, dbvid from baton rouge, LA (Zone 9a) wrote:
Was growing beautifully, was covered with the white flower heads which were opening up with yellow flowers. Then we had a late surprise freeze and all the flower heads died. Now, after waiting for a year, I have to wait another year to see it bloom! This is in Baton Rouge,. Louisiana
On Mar 10, 2012, Bob60 from Cherry Hill, NJ (Zone 7a) wrote:
I planted two here in Cherry Hill New Jersey Zone 7A and they are doing great. It blooms in late Feb. into March before the leaves. We had a total of 6' of snow last year and did not harm it at all. Very easy shrub to grow.
On Apr 22, 2010, Bear_Mom from Roswell, GA wrote:
I planted this recently in our "east" bed. I am hoping it just needs some time as the leaves wilt now in full sun and it is only April! I am in the 7a-b zone.
On Mar 2, 2010, poeae from (Zone 8a) wrote:
Just a note to let others know that there are at least 2 specimens of this intriguing plant growing very well in the Four Seasons area at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens in Belmont, NC near Gastonia and Charlotte. Right now they are of course leafless but the un-opened white flowers are hanging from the tips of the limbs. Very striking plant and there have been many inquiries at DSBG on where to buy them. They might try to find a source to offer them at their annual plant sale in April
On May 22, 2009, JoeCastleHayne from Castle Hayne, NC wrote:
I Planted one last fall (Sep) and it held onto it’s leaves later than I expected it to. No leaf drop until they were frozen brown and crisp by a hard freeze sometime in December. It bloomed here in SE NC throughout Feb, and as expected smelled awesome. The DG profile list this plant as “full sun” but I suspect early morning sun only would be best. Mine gets full sun until around noon, and the newest growth looks very droopy from 11:00 until it is shaded by nearby trees. I saw a nursery plant growing in full shade and the leaves are much larger (2x) than mine, and this gives it a fuller look. When planting this shrub, I was worried about not having full sun (based on the exposure listing here). However, given my experience I wish I had planted it in an even more shaded location.. read more
On Jan 22, 2008, flwr_grdn from Seaside, OR (Zone 9a) wrote:
Planted this in late summer in an opening in my border and it had a very difficult transition. Our weather here in Portland, OR vicinity has been changing, with extended periods of high heat (over 93) rather than the single days that we used to get. So about two weeks after I planted, it was really hit hard by several days of full sun in the upper 90's and started to seriously wilt. And, though now I read it doesn't like to be moved, I felt I had to move it or lose it. So I shifted it about six feet to be under the dappled shade of a Japanese maple. It was like a revelation! Came back splendidly. The maple it's next to is a burgundy color other surrounding plants are older small pines. The tips of its branches have been positively glowing in the garden next to the other darker pla. read more ntings. It's brought a bright spot of interest and now I look forward to its next act: its yellow blossoms & scented bloom!
On Sep 19, 2007, Maureen62 from Portland, OR wrote:
My beautiful Edgeworthia did splendidly until I put totally composted and sterile dairy cow manure on as mulch. I'm guessing it blocked water absorption, but I am not sure. There are more babies growing
so instead of cutting off as suckers, I'll choose a strong one and start over. If anyone has any input on this tragedy as to why it happened, I would love to hear about it.
On Feb 25, 2006, TomH3787 from Raleigh, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:
PlantFiles lists E. papyrifera as synonymous with E. chrysantha but there is disagreement about this. Some consider them to be separate species, with E. chrysantha having yellow flowers and being a bit more cold-hardy than E. papyrifera which has white flowers.
On Feb 21, 2005, satulacats from Athens, GA wrote:
This plant grows beautifully in zone 7b, Athens, GA, as well. Mine is planted in western exposure and is in full flower right now.
On Feb 20, 2005, msampler from Barnesville (High Falls), GA (Zone 7b) wrote:
The plant is just reaching nurseries in Georgia and is being displayed as a fragrant show plant. Has been grown in Europe for over 100 years (UK). Originally from China. Hardy to zone 8, flowers: Feb-Apr with both male and female organs. Likes the west side of a wall or building in well drained soil. Does not like root disturbance, plant once. Can be raised from seed but requires up to 12 months going thru 8-12 wks 20 C then 12-14 wks of 3 C. Take half-ripe cuttings in Spring. Also called the Golden Daphne. The flower head is extremely fragrant but delicate.
On Aug 18, 2001, mystic from Ewing, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:
Deciduous spreading shrub from central China gets up to 6' tall. Clusters of fragrant creamy yellow flowers which are covered on the outside with silky hairs,appear on the ends of the branches in late winter and early spring. It has long narrow leaves and tough, flexible stems. This variety is used in Japan to make banknote paper. There is also a reddish-orange flowered form known as 'Red Dragon'.
History and Origins of the Edgeworthia Paperbush
The Edgeworthia Paperbush has an interesting history. It grows wild in the southern parts of China and it has been cultivated there and in Japan for centuries, because the bark was collected and used to make a special, durable paper for banknotes, called mitsumata paper. This use was noted by western travelers in the early 19 th century and plants were brought back to England around 1850 by an amateur botanist and explorer called Michael Pakenham Edgeworth, who collected it in the Himalayas. As you can see, both its use for paper and the name of the collector can be found in the names we use for this plant.
Because it was introduced into England so early, it has been much more widely grown there, but it seems it was only seriously introduced into the US in the last 15 years or so. Since then this plant has become a ‘must have’ for many gardeners, who have seen it in bloom and instantly fallen in love.