Phoebe – Gardening in the Coastal Southeast

The Genus Phoebe
Family Lauraceae

This is a medium-sized genus of shrubs and trees native to Asia. They are rare in gardens in our region. 

The Lauraceae is a large plant family of woody plants, mostly evergreens. This family ranges around the world. It includes familiar plants such as cinnamon (Cinnamomum,) redbay and avocado (Persea) and sassafras (Sassafras.)


Phoebe chekiangensis

Phoebe chekiangensis leaves

This is a medium-sized evergreen tree from China. One reference says it is capable of growing to sixty feet tall. The catalog said it has a conical form and is best in shade. Little information is available on the cultivation of Phoebe species. A report from Austin says it has survived temperatures below 11° F. It seems drought tolerant.

Phoebe species are rare, even in specialty catalogs. Plants may be grown from seeds. Cuttings and layers are possible but they are reported to be challenging.

My plant produces new leaves once each year in early to mid-April. It has grown slowly in a shady, unirrigated site in my upper zone 9a garden. It grew eight feet tall in eight years, surviving summer-long droughts and winter lows in the upper teens F.