Hebe News – Article 2

WEBSITE Q&A

A Lady gardener writes from Texas

I recently bought a healthy plant, called a hebe. I live in Texas (a suburb of Fort Worth), and I was hoping to get more information on this plant and Iíd like to know if I could plant it outdoors in the ground.

Unfortunately, here in Texas, the ground is hard, clay, and a little sandy. Plus the summer heat is horrendous. If I do plant this outside, what is the best soil to use? I have been using a mix of Miracle Grow and an organic blend by Vigro, and I use at least a handful of the moisture retaining crystals at the roots, and a little more around the mid section before I finish with more healthy new soil. We do have some wintry weather, but it doesnít last more than two weeks. Like I stated before, I am hoping to get clearer information on the plant hebe.

Neil Bell replies

Growing the plant there will be a bit of a challenge primarily because of the heat. The soils you describe are actually less of a challenge, in fact here in the Willamette Valley, Oregon; the plants grow quite happily in our renowned clay loam soils, which are pretty heavy soils too. That said the plants do prefer reasonable drainage to avoid any root rot problems, so amending the soil with some kind of organic matter in the area you plan to grow it may reduce the likelihood of this disease problem.

Dealing with the heat will be more of an issue. Hebes are native to New Zealand, which has a mild, maritime climate which does not offer extremes of heat or cold for the most part (or at least not like Fort Worth). If you are going to plant it in the landscape, I would do so in a well-ventilated area in afternoon shade. Sometimes they may work if they are planted in a container, too, placed in afternoon shade. But minimizing the heat load, and any drought stress, will be important as they do not tolerate drought for the most part. I almost wonder if it would not work well as a house plant, placed in a sunny window and benefiting from the air conditioning that Iím sure you use throughout the summer. Just a thought, not necessary around here.


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