How to Plant and Grow Potentilla

This low-growing shrub, native to the northern hemisphere, blooms all summer long.


Crisp, neat foliage and charming flowers that resemble anemones ensure that potentilla always has something going in the garden. This hardy shrub blooms in a broad color range over a long period of time from late spring to autumn, attracting pollinators. When the leaves drop in fall, a reddish peeling bark is revealed.

Potentilla Overview

Genus Name Potentilla fruticosa
Common Name Potentilla
Additional Common Names Shrubby cinquefoil
Plant Type Shrub
Light Sun
Height 1 to 3 feet
Width 2 to 5 feet
Flower Color Orange, Pink, Red, White
Foliage Color Blue/Green, Chartreuse/Gold
Season Features Summer Bloom, Winter Interest
Special Features Low Maintenance
Zones 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Propagation Stem Cuttings
Problem Solvers Drought Tolerant, Groundcover, Slope/Erosion Control

Where to Plant Potentilla

Find a location in full sun because that’s where it does best. In terms of soil, potentilla is unfussy as long as the soil is well-drained. The pH should be in the neutral range.

Because of its compact size, there are many spots where you can plant this versatile, long-blooming shrub even in small spaces, such as a patio area. It is especially nice as a group planting in a naturalized area or as a low hedge along a walkway or foundation. Potentilla is good for erosion control so you can also plant it on a slope or embankment. 

How and When to Plant Potentilla

Planting potentilla in the spring is best because it gives it a full growing season to get established. Dig a hole about twice the width of the root system and at the same depth and place it in the hole. Backfill with the original soil and tamp it down lightly. Water it well and keep it watered for the first few weeks until the shrub is established.

Space potentilla at least 3 feet apart for a hedge and 6 feet apart for specimen planting.

Potentilla Care Tips


While the shrub can survive in partial sun, for best flowering, give it a location in full sun. A partially shady location is only acceptable in a warmer climate. 

Soil and Water

Potentilla does fine in average soil, but good drainage is a must. The ideal pH is in the neutral range (6.8 to 7.2),

Newly planted shrubs need watering but once established, potentilla is quite drought-tolerant.

Temperature and Humidity

Potentilla is native to the northern hemisphere and, as such, are very winter-hardy down to zone 2. It prefers cooler summers and does not do well in southern locations with hot, humid summer weather.


Though it can grow even in less-than-ideal soil conditions, feeding potentilla once a year with a balanced, slow-release granular fertilizer (10-10-10) supports its health and long bloom. Fertilize is early in the early spring, according to package label instructions. 


Potentilla can start to look a bit ragged after a few years, but you can correct this with proper pruning in the late winter or early spring before the shrub leaves out (potentilla blooms on new wood). The oldest and thickest canes won’t produce blooms any longer and those should be cut back all the way to the ground to make room for new growth. You can remove a substantial portion, 50 to 75 percent of the canes, without harming the plant. Note that this rejuvenation pruning should only be done every three to five years. In the in-between years, give it a light pruning to maintain the rounded shape and remove some of the branches to ensure good air circulation.

Potting and Repotting Potentilla

Because of its compact size, potentilla is a shrub that is suitable for growing in a container. Choose a container that is 12 inches wide with good drainage holes and fill it with well-draining potting mix. Keep in mind that, unlike potentilla in the landscape, potted plants need regular watering and more frequent fertilization.

The shrub can remain outdoors year-round; however, the roots of potted plants are exposed to winter chill and need to be protected. Insulate the container by wrapping it with burlap or place it in a larger container filled with mulch.

Pests and Problems 

In climates with hot, humid summers, potentilla is prone to get powdery mildew, which is accentuated by the shrub’s dense growth habit (keeping it pruned for good air circulation can help). Humidity can also encourage fungal leaf spots. You might find spider mites on the shrub. 

How to Propagate Potentilla

Potentillas can be propagated from semi-hardwood cuttings in midsummer. Take a 6-inch cutting below a node and remove all the leaves from the lower third of the cutting. Dip the cut end in rooting hormone and insert it in a 4-inch pot filled with damp potting mix. Keep it moist in a bright location but away from direct sunlight. The cutting has rooted when you see new growth and it feels firmly anchored in the soil when you gently wiggle it. Wait until it has grown into a strong little seedling with a bunch of new leaves before transplanting it in the landscape.

Types of Potentilla


Abbotswood Potentilla

Potentilla fruticosa 'Abbotswood' bears white flowers and blue-green foliage on a shrub that grows 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Zones 3-7


Daydawn Potentilla

Potentilla fruticosa 'Daydawn' has soft-yellow flowers suffused with pink on a compact, 4-foot-tall-and-wide shrub. Zones 3-7


Klondike Potentilla

Potentilla fruticosa 'Klondike' is a sunny presence in the garden. It combines bright green leaves and yellow flowers and grows 3 feet tall and 5 feet wide. Zones 3-7


McKay's White Potentilla

Potentilla fruticosa 'McKay's White' offers pristine white flowers with showy gold stamens scattered on the plant through the summer. It grows 3 feet tall and 5 feet wide. Zones 3-7


Sunset Potentilla

Potentilla fruticosa 'Sunset' bears apricot blooms that lighten to yellow; the color fades in strong sun. The shrub grows 3 feet tall and wide. Zones 3-7

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is Potentilla fruticosa the same as Dasiphora fruticosa?

    It’s the same plant. Potentilla fruticosa is the old botanical name. It was renamed Dasiphora fruticosa but it still sold as Potentilla fruticosa.

  • Can you cut potentilla back to the ground?

    The shrub should not be completely cut back to the ground, only the thickest and oldest stems, as part of a rejuvenation pruning every three to five years.

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