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Hebe

Scrophulariaceae
Evergreen, Shrubs

These are New Zealand natives closely related to Veronica and occasionally still sold under that name. (Hebes are shrubs, Veronicas are perennials.) Most types are grown mainly for their attractive form and foliage (neat pairs of opposite leaves); some give good flower display in summer, and a few produce a scattering of bloom throughout the year. Most are fast growing.

All do best in cool-summer, mild-winter climates—in the San Francisco area, for example. Dry summer heat and winter frosts shorten their lives. Larger-leafed types are more susceptible to winter damage. Very prone to root rot if drainage is anything less than excellent. The plants take seacoast conditions. Prune after bloom, shortening stems that have flowered by about half to keep plants compact and bushy. Rejuvenate ragged plants by cutting back severely; they’ll resprout easily from old, leafless wood.

Hebe glaucophylla
Hebe glaucophylla

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Hebe glaucophylla

Compact, rounded, grows to about 2 ft. high and wide. Half-inch-long, roundish blue-green leaves. White flowers in short, dense clusters. Good low foundation plant or tidy divider between lawn and walkway.

Hebe odora

Rounded and symmetrical, to an eventual 3 ft. high and 5 ft. wide; easily shaped into a 3-ft. hedge. Small, deep green leaves densely cover branches, giving the plant the look of a boxwood (Buxus). Small white flowers in dense clusters. ‘Nana’ grows to just 8 in. high and a little wider. Leaves of ‘New Zealand Gold’ are glossy green and neatly edged in yellow.

Hebe pinguifolia ‘Pagei’ (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)
Hebe pinguifolia ‘Pagei’ (photo courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens)

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Hebe pinguifolia

Grows to 3 ft. tall and wide. Blue-gray leaves (sometimes with a pinkish edge) are very closely set or even overlapping. White flowers are tiny but profuse. ‘Pagei’ is a prostrate form that can grow 9 in. high and 4 ft. across in 5 years. ‘Sutherlandii’ grows to 1 1/2 ft. tall and 3 ft. wide, with beautiful gray foliage.

Hebe × andersonii ‘Variegata’ (photo courtesy of Laura Dunkin-Hubby)
Hebe × andersonii ‘Variegata’ (photo courtesy of Laura Dunkin-Hubby)

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Hebe x andersonii

Mounding, compact plant to 5–6 ft. tall and wide, with fleshy, deep green leaves. Flowers are white at the base, violet at the tip, and carried in 2–4-in. spikes. ‘Variegata’ has white-bordered leaves.

Hebe ‘Autumn Glory’
Hebe ‘Autumn Glory’

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Hebe ‘Autumn Glory’

Compact grower to 2 ft. high and wide. Dark green leaves are 1 1/2 in. long. Many 2-in., deep lavender-blue flower spikes in late summer, fall.

Hebe ‘Wiri Blush’

This hybrid has a rounded form to 3 ft. high and 4 ft. wide, with narrow, 2-in.-long, shiny dark green leaves. It produces bright pink, 3-in.-long spikes of flowers. Almost continual bloom from early summer through frost.

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