Potentilla - Growing Guide

Growing Potentilla

Buttercup bush, Cinquefoil

Potentillas come in two distinct forms. Some are small, low growing, mound forming, deciduous shrubs and some are perennial herbaceous plants. Both forms are cultivated for their attractive saucer or cup shaped flowers which have five petals.

Shrubby Potentillas are wonderful plants for a mixed or shrub border as they will produce flowers for months. They can also be made into low edging hedges at the front of borders. Shrubby and herbaceous forms of Potentilla are completely hardy and do best in full sun in a well-drained soil. Shrubby forms need little attention except, perhaps, minor pinching out or clipping to produce more new shoots and more flowers. These plants are easily propagated from soft greenwood cuttings in early summer with bottom heat. Herbaceous forms are most easily lifted and the clumps divided up when dormant in spring or autumn.

1. Shrubby forms

The varieties which we list are all forms of P. fruiticosa which have pinnate leaves composed of five to seven oblong dark green leaflets. The flowers start in late spring and there will still be some out in early autumn. All grow to about 3ft; sometimes a bit more in maturity. The white flowered P. ‘Abbotswood’ has a more upright growth habit than most named varieties and P. ‘Daydream’ (apricot-pink) grows the tallest with us.

You can see your colour options in the pictures below this article.

P. fruticosa 'Elizabeth' click for larger image
P. fruticosa 'Elizabeth'

2. Herbaceous forms

P. ‘Gibson’s Scarlet’ is clump forming with a nice crop of offsets. It grows to around 18in and clumps spread a bit more than this. Bright scarlet flowers in early summer and on right through the season.

P. megalantha is a much smaller growing clump forming perennial with a height of 6-12in and a similar spread once established. It has ongoing yellow flowers through the summer.

P. nepalensis ‘Miss Willmot’ has cherry pink flowers suffused yellow with darker pink centres. It grows 12-18in in height in a loose clump.

P. thurberi ‘Monarch’s Velvet’, the scarlet cinquefoil, has bright green strawberry like leaves and dark centred red flowers. It grows perhaps 10-15in in height.

P. ‘William Rollison’ is another classic and very widely grown herbaceous perennial with red-orange flowers right through the summer. It grows to about 18in with a larger spread.


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