How to Grow Potentilla — Cinquefoil

Yellow Shrubby Cinquefoil flower - Latin name - Potentilla fruticosa

Potentilla–commonly called Cinquefoil–is a compact, deciduous shrub that bears 5-petaled, saucer-shaped white, yellow, orange, pink, or red flowers.

Potentilla blooms from spring to autumn. The shrubby Potentillas developed from P. fruticosa are excellent long-flowering plants for the garden. Use Potentilla in informal hedges and shrub borders.

Potentilla is a genus of about 500 species of shrubs and herbaceous perennials found throughout the Northern Hemisphere in habitats ranging from meadows to mountain screes.

Shrubby cinquefoil, Potentilla fruticosa
Shrubby cinquefoil, Potentilla fruticosa

Get to Know Potentilla

  • Plant type: Deciduous flowering shrub
  • Growing Zones and range: 2-7
  • Hardiness: Hardy to -50°F (-45°C)
  • Height and width: 1 to 4 feet (1-1.2m) tall and 2 to 4 feet (.6-1.2m) wide
  • Foliage: Bright green leaves, yellow-brown in fall; leaves can be pinnate or 3- to 7-palmate; leaves are strongly veined and wrinkled
  • Flowers: Usually 5-petaled , suacer-shaped flowers
  • Flower colors: White to yellow, pink, and orange
  • Bloom time: Summer to fall
  • Uses: Low hedges, shrub borders, foundation use, mass planting
  • Common name: Potentilla, shrubby cinquefoil
  • Botanical name: Potentilla
  • Family: Rosaceae
  • Origin: Meadows to mountain screes throughout the Northern Hemisphere

Where to Plant Potentilla

  • Plant Potentilla in full sun for best flowering; will grow in partial shade.
  • Grow Potentilla in all types of soil from poor to humus-rich.

Potentilla Uses and Companions

  • Potentilla is a long-flowering plant.
  • Tall varieties such as P. fruticosa that can be used for a mixed or shrub border or for a low hedge.
  • Short varieties such as P. tabernaemontani or P. atro-sanguinea can be used as a ground cover or in a rock garden.
  • Good garden companions for Potentilla include Belamcanda chinensis, Coreopsis, Dictamus albus, Hemerocallis, Salvia, Sisyrinchium striatum.
Potentilla fruticosa, Shrubby Cinquefoil
Potentilla fruticosa, Shrubby Cinquefoil

When to Plant Potentilla

  • Set Potentilla in the garden in spring or fall.

Planting and Spacing Potentilla

  • Space Potentilla 2 to 4 feet apart.

How to Water and Feed Potentilla

  • Potentilla needs moderate water; keep the soil evenly moist.

Potentilla Care

  • Remove one-third of Potentilla stems in late winter or early spring for best flowering and a thicker habit. Cut old stems back to the ground.

Potentilla Pests and Diseases

  • Potentilla is susceptible to downy mildew, powdery mildew, leaf blister, and rust can attack cinquefoil.
Stone bench and Potentilla
Stone bench and Potentilla

Potentilla Propagation

  • Take Potentilla cuttings in summer.
  • Sow Potentilla seed in fall.
  • Potentilla seeds take 14 to 28 days to germinate at about 70°F (21°C).

Potentilla Varieties to Grow

  • Potentilla atrosanguinea, Himalaya cinquefoil. Clump-forming perennial; panicle like cymes of suacr-shaped yellow, orange, or pale to deep red flowers grows to 36 inches tall.
  • P. fruitcosa, shrubby cinquefoil. Compact, bushy, deciduous shur with saucer-shaped flowers grows to 30 inche tall and wide, Cultivars include: Abbotswood’ has white flowers, bluish-green leaves and grow 30 inches tall and 4 feet wide; ‘Goldfinger’ has bright yellow flowers and dark green leaves; ‘Yellow Gem’ grows 2 to 3 feet wide; ‘Jackman’s Variety’ has bright yellow flowers; ‘Mount Everest’ has large white flowers; ‘Primrose Beauty’ primrose flowers, grows to 3 feet tall; ‘Tangerine’ has yellow-flushed red flowers and grows to 2 feet tall.
  • P. nepalensis. Clump-forming perennial grows to 36 inche tall; mid-green leaves; loose cymes of saucer-shaped dark crimson flowers.
  • P. recta. Perennial to 24 inches tall; gray-green to mid-green leaves; flat cymes of saucer-shaped yellow flowers.

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