Arbutus unedo 'ATLANTIC'

Arbutus unedo
Arbutus unedo 'ATLANTIC'
hardy strawberry tree
SIZE/TYPE medium-sized shrub
 taller shrub
LEAVES evergreen broadleaf
FLOWERS less showy but noticeable
LOCATION full sun
SOIL TYPE any (acidic to alkaline)
SOIL MOISTURE REQUIREMENTS dry and sharply drained (xeriscape)
USDA zone (lowest) 6   (down to -23°C)
FOR ZONE 5+6 Code of winter protection zone 5+6
FOR ZONE 7 Code of winter protection zone 7
BELONGS TO CATEGORIES Evergreen broadleaf
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Strawberry tree is another of my favourite evergreen plant from the trial field of Mediterranean plants where we test originally tender plants in C.E. continental climate. We have noticed that in the changing climate many macchia plants are exceptionally suited for milder parts of our country. Sufficient hardiness is an important feature, however, current lack of water in the ground and less rain make drought-tolerant plants like this one a desirable species even here. Arbutus unedo commonly known as strawberry tree is one of them and the species has not proved commonly hardy when the temperature dropped below -15 °C. However, there are varieties and selections which performed a miracle! Atlantic is one of them.

Atlantic is a French variety of strawberry tree selected and introduced by the Pepinieres Minier in 1993. It boasts a neat and well-behaved habit, dense branching, and improved hardiness. Its evergreen leaves are narrowly obovate, 5-7 cm long, finely serrated at margins, they emerge bronze red and remain soft green for a long time before they mature to deep green. Always very glossy and erect. They are slightly narrower compared to Compacta variety.

Arbutus belongs to heather family (Ericaceae) which is easy to tell looking at its flowers. They are urn-shaped, red and white, composed in pendent racemes, and show up from autumn until late spring, and sporadically throughout summer, too. Meanwhile mature small, spherical, and edible fruit which is bright red when mature hence the tree name. It contains as much as 20% of sugar but the taste is rather dull so it is mostly used in preserves and liquors.

Strawberry tree is one of the key features of so-called macchia vegetation found in dry and hot, rocky slopes of South Europe. Its plants cope extremely well with long-lasting drought and are usually unattacked by wild animals. Compacta remains smaller and compact, yet you can enhance its branching in spring after all frosts. I saw beautiful specimen plants trained into small multistemmed trees which reveal the beautiful red-brown bark. Select 3-5 main branches as a strong framework, remove all laterals until the top and clip its canopy into a mushroom head every summer. Thus you can achieve a beautiful Mediterranean-style jewel.

Grow it in extremely well-drained, humus rich soil in full sun or only light shade. Slightly acidic soil enhances the depth of green colour in leaves but is not essential. Just avoid compacted or water-logged ground where the roots may rot. It will need even moisture after transplanting but once established stay away from watering. It is pest and disease free, and so far hardy to USDA zone 6 – short spells of -23°C. Choose older plants for growing in zone 6 and provide good mulch for winter.

Last update 28-06-2022

Arbutus unedo
Phillyrea latifolia
Prunus laurocerasus
  • STANDARD QUALITY - Plants of this group are 1st class quality with number of branches and overall density adequate to their size and age, considering they were container grown.
  • DE LUXE QUALITY - This label guarantees a luxurious quality of manually selected plants that, compared to their height and age, are exceptionally dense and beautiful.
  • EXTRA - These plants are usually mature and bigger specimens with exceptional overall appearance.
  • STANDARD (as described in the plant form) means a tree with a trunk of 190-210 cm and a crown at the top, unless specified differently. The commercial size for trees is their girth measured in the height of 1m from ground.
  • HOBBY - These plants are of the same quality as our standard-quality plants but younger and therefore cheaper.
  • SHRUB - a woody plant with branches growing bushy from the ground level.
  • HALF-STANDARD or MINI-STANDARD - a small tree with shorter trunk, its size is usually specified.
  • FEATHERED - These are trees with branches growing already from the base of the trunk and up along the stem.
  • GRASSES and PERENNIALS - Sizes given usually read the diameter of the pot or the clump, as specified.
LARGE PLANTS over 150 cmspecimens, screening and hedging shrubs

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