Currently unpopular as a landscape plant, it's also appearing on invasive species and noxious weed lists in some parts of the country. I was not aware of any of these objections back in 1996 when I spotted them at Rainbow Gardens and decided they would make a perfect screen for the front yard. We live on a curve at the bottom of the hill and clearly some screening was needed.
I didn't want a boxwood, privet, or any of the other common options I had seen at most nurseries. It was those shiny green leaves with the silvery underside you can see below that caught my eye one day
and I planted three between the oaks in the front yard. Problem solved.
We have a tough environment here with thin alkaline soil over rock combined with extreme heat and drought. Elaeagnus has managed to thrive here with very little supplemental water while providing just the right amount of screening from the street.
The new foliage is pale red-gold and had little spots like freckles
The leaves also remind me of the Salal used by florists as greenery in arrangements. Evergreen Eleaegnus has made a great winter backdrop for the deciduous American Beautyberry. They naturally grow into a nice mounded shape and need pruning about every three years. We pruned them back significantly in early February this year to give the Beautyberries room to grow. They grow fast and should fill in fast providing birds the perfect spot to watch the beautyberries ripen.
In the Texas panhandle and some midwestern states it has escaped cultivation. Here in my yard they have never bloomed or produced berries and have stayed put exactly where I planted it more than 15 years ago. I lost track of the exact variety, but they still carry them at Rainbow Gardens.
There are native plants that would work here, but I wasn't aware of that at the time. The best plant is the one that works and I still love that combination of deep green and silver foliage all year long.