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Hebe - Growing Guide
Caring for Hebes
Commonly known as ‘Shrubby Veronica’
There are so many different species and forms of hebe that it is difficult to generalise. However, some of the most colourful and beautiful of the large leaved hebe are difficult for us to grow in Cornwall with our 50 plus inches of rain each year. They are very prone to downy mildew, leaf spot and root rot often in combination. Hot, humid, wet conditions in the nursery growing areas and in the garden can and does lead to disasters of this sort.
Therefore we tend to offer only those species and varieties which have smaller leaves, a more dwarf growing habit, and a general resistance to such problems. In hotter, drier, parts of the county the popular H. ‘Autumn Glory’, H. ‘Youngii’ and H. ‘Marjorie’ may well thrive but you will not find them in our catalogue. Instead we grow a range of ‘Wiri’ hybrids from New Zealand which are resistant to damping off and downy mildew.
The hebe which we grow are fully frost hardy. Some are especially tough such as H. albicans and H. pinguifolia. Hebe like to be grown in moist well drained neutral to alkaline soil in sun or partial shade with shelter from cold winds.
Hebe seldom need any pruning at all although younger plants will reshoot if clipped.
If you are obliged to grow some of your hebes in the greenhouse in colder parts of the country they prefer a loam based potting compost. The crucial thing is to ensure good ventilation and air circulation with low humidity as this is what can so easily cause an outbreak of powdery mildew in hot, humid conditions inside. Most hebe need some shading from direct sunlight as well to avoid scorching.
Semi ripe new growth cuttings will root easily with bottom heat when taken in late summer or early autumn. Some hebe freely set seeds and these too are easy to grow in containers or in the cold frame. However hebe hybridise themselves a great deal so do not expect your seedlings to be true to name