These pretty evergreen shrubs come in a wide range of colours, shapes and sizes. Hardy to half-hardy. Most form a neat compact bushy plant with abundant pretty flowers. Many species have attractive foliage, ranging in colour from green to purple and grey.
Family: Plantaginaceae (plantain
family) (formerly Scrophulariaceae)
Botanical Name: Hebe
Common Names: Shrubby veronica
Foliage: Evergreen shiny oval or long ovate leaves. A range of leaf colours available from light green to grey-blue and red. Several variegated forms are also available.
Flowers: Abundant colourful flower spikes in shades of white, pink, blue, lilac or mauve.
Flowering Period: summer and autumn
Soil: Medium to well-drained soil (chalk, clay, sand or loam). Alkaline or neutral pH.
Conditions: Full sun or light shade. Can be grown in any aspect (north, east, west or south), in a sheltered location.
Origin: New Zealand, Australia, South America and Falkland Islands.
Hardiness: Hardy in milder and coastal regions (larger the leaf forms are more tender). Protect from severe winter frosts.
Easy to grow and look after. Tolerates poor soil, chalky soil and dry conditions.
Plant in any good garden soil with good drainage. Suitable for mixed shrubberies and containers. The smaller forms are suitable for the rockery or as ground cover. Tall hebes such as H. salicifolia make excellent flowering hedges.
Hebes are extremely hardy evergreen shrubs, invaluable for seaside and city planting. Low growing varieties makes an excellent shrubby ground cover, which is attractive throughout the season. Many forms will flower all summer long and into autumn.
Water thoroughly during dry weather until well established. Mulch with organic matter in spring and add a general fertilizer.
Easy to prune and shape. Remove the flower heads as soon as flowering has finished. Prune straggly shoots in May. Remove any dead or frost-damaged growth.
As new shoots develop on old wood, many leggy, overgrown and unsightly Hebes can be restored by hard pruning in May.
Leaf spot and mildew may occur.
One of the easiest shrubs to propagate from cuttings. Strike 3in (7cm) half-ripe tip cuttings in a cold frame in summer.
There are scores of different forms available, so it is best to purchase pot grown specimens from garden centres or nurseries when in-flower so you can be sure of what will suit your garden. Choose strong bushy plants with healthy leaves and plenty of flowers and buds.
H. armstrongii dwarf form with
H. ‘Emerald Gem’ forms a compact dome of very small, dense, green foliage. Height and spread 1ft (30cm).
H. ochracea form dense hummocks of brown scaly leaves. Height up to 1ft (30cm).
H. pinguifolia 'Pagei' compact low-growing form with grey leaves and white flowers in May. Height to 1ft (30cm).
Hebe 'Youngii' (syn. H. 'Carl Teschner') small shrub with dark leaves and violet and white flowers in June-July.
H. albicans has silver grey leaves and stubby white
flowers. Ideal for border edging or ground cover.
Height and spread 1.5ft (45cm).
H. 'Autumn Glory' a compact form with stubby spikes of violet-blue flowers from June to November. Height 1.5 ft (45cm), spread 2.5 ft (75cm).
H. x franciscana variegata (hybrid). has leaves edged creamy white and violet-blue flower spikes in summer. Compact rounded habit. Height and spread to 4ft (1.2m).
H. 'Great Orme' has a compact habit with long narrow leaves, bright pink flower spikes in July-October. No so hardy. Height and spread 2.5ft (75cm).
H. 'Gauntlettii' has rose pink and
purple flower spikes in July-October. Height and spread
H. 'La Seduisante' produces crimson flower spikes in July-October. Height and spread 4ft (1.2m).
H. rakaiensis forms a dome of light-green foliage with produces white flowers from midsummer. Height to 3ft (90cm).
H. 'Midsummer Beauty' (moderately hardy) has long purple and white flowers in spikes from July-November. Height to 5ft (1.5m).
H. ‘Oratia Beauty’ has small green pointed leaves and stubby white-pinkish flower spikes. Height and spread 2.5ft (75cm).
H. ‘Red Edge’ forms a dense round shrub with a lovely reddish/pink marginal tone. Pale-lilac flowers in early summer. Height and spread 2.5ft (75cm).
H. 'Veitchii' has deep purple-blue flowers in July-October. Height and spread 4ft (1.2m).
H. brachysiphon (New Zealand)
a dense rounded form with white flowers during June-July.
Height and spread to 6ft (1.8m).
H. salicifolia a large tough evergreen summer-flowering shrub with white flowers. Height to 10ft (3m).