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What is Crinodendron?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 21 August 2019
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Crinodendron is a genus of evergreen trees and shrubs native to central Chile. These plants are cultivated as ornamentals in Chile and beyond and in the case of tree species, they can also be used as a source of timber. People interested in growing Crinodendron species may be able to find them at a garden supply store or nursery, and can also order them through catalogs and online garden stores. It is also possible to use seeds or cuttings from another gardener to propagate a new plant.

These plants have lance-like glossy green leaves. In the spring and summer, they produce a profusion of unusually shaped flowers that vary in color from white to red. The flowers are often compared to bells, lanterns, or pendants, explaining the common names Chilean Lantern Plant and Chinese Lantern Plant. A species that produces white flowers is known as the White Lily Tree. The flowers and contrasting evergreen foliage can make a Crinodendron a garden feature with a physically striking appearance.

Members of this genus are not frost-hardy, although they can tolerate light frost. They grow best in United States Department of Agriculture zones nine through 11, although gardeners in cooler regions have reported successful overwintering with the help of ample mulch and protective covering during cold nights. Plants subjected to extreme cold may lose their leaves and should be cared for until the spring to see if they leaf out again, or have died because of the cold exposure.

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Crinodendron species prefer peaty soil mixed with sand to make the soil loose and well drained. The soil should be kept moist, as these plants are adapted to environments where the soil is consistently damp. It is also advisable to mix in some organic matter as a source of nutrients and to mulch the roots to mimic conditions found on the forest floor. Like other plants adapted to woodland environments, these plants prefer partial shade, and will be stressed if they are grown in full sun.

To propagate a Crinodendron, people have the option of rooting cuttings or encouraging seeds to sprout. The seedlings should be allowed to start life in a greenhouse before being taken outside after the last chance of frost, no matter how light, has passed. After a few days outside to harden off and grow accustomed to the climate, the seedlings can be transplanted into the ground. Gardeners should consider the final adult height of the species they are growing when deciding where to plant.

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