The genus Arbutus includes 14 species of evergreen trees or shrubs that are useful in large shrub borders, in woodland gardens, or as specimens. They have peeling, reddish-brown bark and leathery, alternate leaves. The white or pink flowers are pitcher-shaped and small and are followed by fruits that resemble strawberries. Arbutus species are native to rocky habitats, including western North America to Mexico and Guatemala.
Noteworthy CharacteristicsPeeling bark, leathery leaves, strawberry-like fruits.
CareGrow in well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter, in full sun. Protect from cold winds. Some species need acidic soils, while some tolerate alkaline. Prune minimally when dormant, if at all, to maintain structure.
PropagationSow seed in containers in a cold frame as soon as ripe, or root semi-ripe cuttings in late summer.
ProblemsIn the southeastern U.S., algal leaf spot is common. Arbutus may attract tent caterpillars and scale insects, and they are prone to a wide variety of fungal leaf spots.