Hebe

With or without its flowers, this shrub is a showstopper.

Hebe Care Must-Knows

Hebe (pronounced HEE-bee) is a large genus of evergreen shrubs from New Zealand. As such, it is marginally hardy in North America, often suffering from winter damage if temperatures are colder than average. Generally, 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.

The hebe plant 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's hardy, but spring or summer planting will give roots a chance to settle before cold temperatures arrive. 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 less likely to be affected by low temperatures.

In spring, feed hebe plants 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 shape. 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. However, 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, so it's best to site your plants where they aren't too crowded by other plants that limit air movement.

Landscape Uses

A compact grower usually reaching just 1 to 3 feet tall and wide, the hebe plant 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 smaller plants. These compact shrubs also make excellent container plants. In fact, some gardeners choose several varieties to 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

Hebe Overview

Description Hebe, a dome-shape shrub, boasts bold flower spikes in white, purple, and pink from summer to fall. Even without flowers, this multi-season 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.
Genus Name Hebe
Common Name Hebe
Plant Type Shrub
Light Part Sun, Sun
Height 1 to 3 feet
Width null to 4 feet
Flower Color Blue, Pink, Purple, White
Season Features Summer Bloom
Special Features Attracts Birds, Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 10, 11, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Stem Cuttings

'Grace Kelly' Hebe

Hebe 'Grace Kelly'
Marty Baldwin

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

'Variegata' Hebe

hebe variegata foliage detail
Marty Baldwin

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'
Denny Schrock

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

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