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How to Grow Hebe

Hebe speciosa
Hebe speciosa

Hebe is a genus of more than 100 species and cultivars of evergreen shrubs. Hebes are commonly cultivated for their colorful spiky flowers as well as their colorful glossy leaves. Hebe flowers can be white, pink, red, purple, and lilac-blue. Foliage varies from dark green to bronze-purple, to variegated green-white-yellow.

Hebes are usually mounding and spreading. Some Hebes are low-growing ground covers about 12 inches (30cm) tall, others more commonly grow from 3 to 4 feet (1-1.2m) tall, and a few grow to 5 feet (1.5m) tall.

Hebe flowers are tubular and usually appear on terminal racemes or spikes. Hebe flowers closely resemble Veronica flowers. Hebes and Veronica are cousins. Hebes are sometimes called shrubby veronica.

Hebes grow best in a cool maritime climate without bitterly cold winters. Hebes grow well along much of the Pacific Coast. Some species are tolerant of the more humid summer conditions along the Gulf and southern Atlantic coasts.

Hebe is a genus of more than 100 species of evergreen shrubs; most are native to coastal areas of New Zealand.

Variegated Hebe- Hebe Variegata in the garden
Variegated Hebe- Hebe Variegata in the garden

Get to Know Hebe

  • Plant type: Evergreen shrubs 
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 9 to 10
  • Hardiness: Hebes do not tolerate cold
  • Height and width: 3 to 4 feet (1-1.2m) tall andl; a few grow to 5 feet (1.5m) tall; some grow to 12 inches (30cm) tall.
  • Foliage: Leaves are lance-shaped, rounded, or ovate depending on the variety.
  • Flowers: Tubular flowers are borne in terminal or axillary reacemes or spikes; color vary from whtie to pink, blue, purple, or red; flowers lighten with age.
  • Bloom time: Summer into autumn
  • Uses:display. Low hebes are useful for edgings or ground cover; taller ones make good shrubs. Good seacoast plants.
  • Common name: Hebe, shrubby Veronica
  • Botanical name: Hebe
  • Family name: Scrophulariaceae 
  • Origin: New Zealand

Where to Plant Hebe

  • Grow Hebes in full sun where summer are not hot; grow in partial shade in hot areas; partial shade is better in the hottest part of their range.
  • Plant Hebes in average garden soil that is well drained. Hebes will grow in poor to average, neutral to alkaline.
  • Hebes are very susceptible to root rot if the soil is not well-drained.
  • Hebes tolerate pollution, salt, and coastal wind but not dry heat.

When to Plant Hebe 

  • Plant container-grown Hebes in the garden in spring or autumn.

Planting and Spacing Hebe

  • Space Hebes 3 to 4 feet (1-1.2m) apart. Dwarf cultivars can be planted 12 inches (30cm) apart.

How to Water and Feed Hebe

  • Hebes grow best with regular water Very susceptible to root rot; well-drained soil is essential.
  • Fertilize Hebes with an all-purpose, slow-release organic fertilizer in spring.
Hebe flowers and leaves
Hebe flowers and leaves

Hebe Care

  • Deadhead Hebes to encourage more blooms.
  • Prune Hebes lightly if needed.

Hebe Pests and Diseases

  • Hebes can be attacked by aphids.
  • Leat spot, Phytophthora root rot, and downy mildew can occur.

Hebe Propagation

  • Propagate semiripe cuttings with bottom heat, in late summer. 
  • Sow seed in containers in a cold frame as soon as ripe.
  • Hebes hybridize freely so they may not grow true from seed.

Hebe Varieties to Grow

  • Hebe ‘Alicia Amherst’. Hybrid grows upright to about 4 feet tall; glossy 4-inch leaves; produces 3-inch racemes of deep violet flowers in late summer or fall. Somewhat hardier than other hebes. 
  • H. ‘Amy’. Hybrid grows to 4 feet tall; has bronze-purple foliage in winter and on new growth; violet-purple flowers in 2-inch spikes bloom in late summer. 
  • H. ‘Autumn Glory’. Hybrid grows to 2 ½ feet tall and wide; bears leaves that have reddish-purple edge and bright purple flowers that bloom from midsummer into winter.
  • H. buxifolia. Boxleaf hebe. Rounded, symmetrical form; grows to 5 feet tall; easily shaped into 3-foot hedge; tiny deep green leaves densely cover branches; clusters of small white flowers. 
  • H. diosmifolia. Rounded shrub grows 2 to 5 feet tall and wide; small levels are 1 inch or less long and ¼ inch wide.; bears rounded clusters of white to lavender flowers bloom in summer at the branch tips.
  • H. elliptica (H. decussata). Much-branched shrub grows from 5 to 6 feet tall; medium green leaves 1 ½ in. long’; bears clusters of fragrant bluish flowers. 
  • H. glaucophylla. Low shrub grows less than 12 inches tall but spreads wider; dense, gray-green leaves; bears white flowers.
  • H. ‘Patty’s Purple’. Hybrid grows to 3 feet tall; tiny dark green leaves on wine red stems; bears purple flowers on slender spikes. Resistant to root rot. 
  • H. pinguifolia ‘Pagei’. Mounded shrub grows to 18 inches tall; petite, blue-gray leaves show off the white flowers in early summer.
  • H. speciosa. Showy hebe. Rounded shrub grows 3 to 6 feet tall; has large glossy leaves up to 4 inches long and 2 inches wide; bears reddish-purple flowers in 3 to 4-inch spikes. ‘Imperialis’ has reddish foliage, magenta flowers. 
  • H. ‘Youngii’, also listed as H. ‘Carl Teschner.’ Ground-covering hebe has tiny, dark green leaves and is covered with small purple-and-white flowers in summer.

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