Hebe, a dome-shape shrub, boasts bold flower spikes in white, purple, and pink from summer to fall. Even without flowers, this multiseason star colors the landscape with beautiful evergreen foliage in green, whitish green, silver, or green tinged with cream or copper—depending on the species and cultivar. Note that hebe was formerly included in the genus Veronica (hence the common name shrubby Veronica), but is now considered a genus of its own.
Hebe Care Must-Knows
Hebe (pronounced HEE-bee) is a large genus of evergreen shrubs mainly from New Zealand. As such, it is marginally hardy in North America, often suffering from winter damage if winters are colder than normal. In general, the smaller the leaf, the better the cultivar or species can tolerate cold. Protection from drying winds, particularly in winter, will help hebe survive in cold climates.
Hebe grows best in full sun or part sun and well-drained, sandy soil. Too much shade and it will become leggy and might cease blooming. Although relatively drought-tolerant, this shrub requires about an inch of water a week in summer to maintain healthy, robust foliage and produce large, color-drenched blooms.
You can plant hebe all year long where it is hardy, but spring or summer planting will give roots a chance to settle before cold temperatures arrive. Speaking of cold weather, this shrub has a better survival rate when sheltered by a building or other plants. If you want to plant it in an exposed location, choose a compact variety that is less likely to be affected by low temperatures.
In spring, feed hebe with a slow-release fertilizer before new growth begins. Most of these shrubs maintain an attractive form with limited pruning. If one starts to become leggy, you can cut it back by one-third to create denser branching and a neater form. Because hebe blooms on new wood, it is best to prune this shrub immediately after flowering so you don't lose next year's flowers. Feel free to remove broken stems or those that suffered winter damage at any time.
Hebe is not commonly afflicted by pests or diseases. Downy mildew may be a problem in damp areas with poor air circulation, so avoid planting in these conditions. Septoria leaf spot mottles the leaves with brown spots. Although not fatal, it makes plants less attractive and can reduce their vigor. Treat with a fungicide.
A compact grower usually reaching just 1 to 3 feet tall and wide, hebe is ideal as a low hedge. Plant hebe alongside spring-flowering shrubs or evergreen plants for a welcome burst of color. It also works well in rock gardens paired with other diminutive plants. These compact shrubs also make great container plants. In fact, some gardeners choose several varieties so they can contrast the foliage colors and variegations against each other. Bonus: By growing hebe in a container, cold-climate gardeners can easily move this plant indoors when frost is near.
More Varieties of Hebe
'Grace Kelly' hebe
Hebe 'Grace Kelly' is crowned with royal purple flowers in summer and fall. The flowers are a lovely complement to the variegated green-and-white leaves. Plants grow 2-3 feet tall and wide. Zones 8-10
This cultivar sports variegated gray-green leaves with creamy margins. In early summer it offers spikes of purple flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. It grows 5 to 6 feet tall. Zones 7-10
'Wiri Blush' hebe
Hebe 'Wiri Blush' sparkles with deep rose-pink flower spikes against shiny, dark green leaves with red edges. 'Wiri Blush' forms an excellent compact hedge. It grows 4 feet tall and wide. Zones 7-11