Questions and Answers – Answers to questions sent to the Website

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Question – Growing Hebes in Queensland, Australia
Hebe’s predilection for a cool temperate climate probably explains why they don’t appear to want to thrive in Bundaberg. See Res Publica for comments on growing hebes there – scroll to the bottom of the page to view the paragraph on hebes.

Question – Moving Hebes
I hope you don't mind me contacting you but we have several hebes in our garden (East Anglia) and absolutely love them, unfortunately two have grown rather large and need moving (if possible), we would appreciate your advise on how, and when to move them, unfortunately we can't remember what their name is but they have white flowers.

Answer
Best to move them with the largest root ball possible, with regard to your back. Hebes are easily moved as they have fibrous roots. Best time would be some time in May, or later, when there's no possibility of frost and the plants are in active growth. You could take cuttings as an insurance. Dig a new hole, give this a good soaking, pop in your hebe, firm the soil well and all should be well.


Question – Pruning Hebes
I have a question regarding the cultivation of Hebe rakaiensis. I have several plants of this grown from cuttings taken a few years ago. Some have now outgrown their allotted space and I’d like to cut them back. Is it safe to cut them back hard (i.e. Do they re-grow from old wood?) and if so, is it OK to do this in early autumn or should I wait until spring?

Answer
We have grown this plant for 25 years and have cut it hard back twice. It would be best to leave any cutting back until spring, as any cuts will not have time to heal before the winter, then rot can get in. Yes they do break from old wood.

Our plant was breaking from the base, (check to see if your’s is). It was then just a matter of lopping off branches over a month or two. If it is not breaking from the base then trim the branches back by a third of the leaves to encourage breaking lower down. Also you should take cuttings, semi-hardwood, trim off most of the lower leaves and put into any ordinary compost, do not cover, put in a shady place. Rooting in 6 to 8 weeks.


Question – Formal Hebes
I am in the process of buying plants for my new garden. My garden style is formal and I am wanting to find a plant that grows into a small bush about 50 to 80 cm high and wide, and has dark green glossy leaves. I will be planting them as a mass planting surrounded by a border of English box. I have been told hebes could be a good option. I was wanting a plant that produces white flowers. What varieties of hebe’s would you recommend. Also how long do they flower for each year

Answer
My suggestion is Hebe vernicosa. It grows to 50 cm high, and about 80 cm wide, has small dark green leaves, is totally hardy in the UK, has whiter or lilac flowers in early summer, and always looks good.


Question – Hebes and deer
I have a Hebe pinguifolia ‘Pagei’. Is it deer proof or resistant?

Answer
As far as I know all hebes are readily eaten by deer.


Question – Hebes from Seed
I am not a very knowledgeable or experienced gardener, but I was wondering whether it is possible to grow hebes from seeds in the UK? If so, can you point me towards a place where I may buy them? Also, when is the best time of year to plant?

Answer
Hebes show a marked tendency to form hybrids, so any group of hebes in a garden can give rise to hebe seedlings that are hybrids. Indeed most hebes grown in the UK are hybrids. For this reason it is best to propagate garden varieties by cuttings. A hebe cuttings exchange is available to members of the Hebe Society, we also have an excellent quarterly magazine ‘Hebe News’.

Most nurseries and garden centres sell a few hebes, at usually £3 to £9. So a tour of you local nurseries would yield a reasonable collection. Container grown hebes can be planted any time that the ground is not frozen.

Hebe seeds (and seeds for other New Zealand plants) can be obtained from the New Zealand Alpine Garden Society, www.backyardgardener.com/nz.html – there is an annual seed distribution for members. Also from Southern Seeds e.paterson@ext.canterbury.ac.nz – this is a commercial seed distributor. Remember hebes will only come true from seed if the parent was grown in isolation.

Sow ripe seed on to a 50:50 mixture of John Innes No 2 compost and a peat-based compost. Cover the seeds with a fine layer of grit and place out of the sun, in an unheated greenhouse or coldframe. Seeds sown in autumn should have germinated by spring. Pot on once they are large enough to handle.


Question – are there any scented hebes?

Answer
The short answer is that many hebes are scented, also some forms of Hebe cupressoides have scented leaves.

I have looked through my index of ‘Hebe News’ and found that the following hebes are scented:
Hebe ‘Blue Clouds’, Hebe ‘C P Raffill’, Hebe ‘Edington’, Hebe elliptica, Hebe ‘Marjorie’, Hebe ‘Midsummer Beauty’, Hebe ‘Miss E Fittall’, Hebe odora, Hebe salicifolia.

This list is not exhaustive.


Question – where do I buy small hebes
I hope you can help me find either a catalogue showing different small Hebes, approx 12 – 18 in, or the name of a nursery or garden centre which specialises in them. I have a small stone wall which is at the moment unplanted except for one or two clematis, other than that it attracts many weeds. I would like to fill it with a selection of hebes with a mulch of gravel or slate. Although the wall is not very high (approximately 2 ft ) it is at least 30 in long, set behind my herbaceous border. Northamptonshire, UK

Answer
Nurseries that would send you catalogues, and/or have online catalogues are:
Garden Cottage Nursery
Lynash Nurseries
Siskin Plants
See the Nurseries page of the Hebe Society website
Most nurseries and garden centres have some hebes. Another excellent source of information is the RHS Plant Finder, online at www.rhs.org.uk/rhsplantfinder/plantfinder.asp
The Hebe Society has a good cuttings exchange.


Question – Hebe speciosa in NSW, Australia
I have a plant called purple koromiko or handsome hebe it has a beautiful purple flower. I would like to plant this at the back with my daisies and gardenias, but in autumn to mid-winter it does not get a lot of sun, but in summer it gets a lot more it faces north, but I have screening plants behind that are causing shade I need to know if it will flower alright without losing some of its flowering time and going woody? Could you also tell me when it actually flowers and can I keep it trimmed? I have got about 13 of them and I am also thinking of putting some out the front of my house this faces west. I have not been able to find out much information about this plant. I live on the Central Coast of NSW

Answer
This is not a plant I personally, as I live too far north (in the UK) to grow it. Here it would be grown on the south coast. One of its many hybrids, Hebe ‘Midsummer Beauty’, is very popular here in Cheshire, and hardy in most winters. Semi-hardwood cuttings are usually recommended hebes. Here they can be taken in any month, but in late summer is usual. Hebes respond well to trimming, in fact it improves them. Best time is just after flowering.

There is a good description of Hebe speciosa in ‘The Cultivation of NZ Trees and Shrubs’ by L J Metcalf, also in ‘Growing NZ Plants, Shrubs and Trees’ by Muriel E Fisher. These should give you enough information. Here it flowers in late summer.

Also you should try contacting Melanie Kinsey of Victoria, Australia at kinsey@hotkey.net.au. She has considerable experience in growing NZ plants in Australia. See her website at http://www.global-garden.com.au/backissuez/0108feature1.htm


Question – Hebe ‘Autumn Glory’
I am considering planting a Hebe ‘Autumn Glory’ in my garden in Northern California (Santa Rosa). The spot I am considering has full sun. I was warned that hebes tend to get untidy looking in a matter of a few years. Can you comment?

Answer
Yes some hebes do become untidy in time, especially Hebe ‘Autumn Glory’. It is best to prune it lightly after flowering. Then it can put its energy into just growing, and not setting seed.

You can use the trimmings as cuttings, just removing most of the lower leaves, and cut just below a leaf joint. Put in any compost in a shady place, rooting in about six weeks. If the parent plant gets too leggy you can replace it.

This is indeed a lovely hebe, and the flower colour is a rich violet and very special.


Question – Hebe ‘Blue Clouds’
My wife and I are trying to decide which type of hebe to plant in our west facing garden with partial shade in the afternoon. We have in a previous home, planted Hebe Blue Clouds, but have been informed that it is susceptible to mildew. Please could you comment on the viability of this opinion and suggest an alternative with similar growth characteristics and flower colour. We do have water retentive soil which will dry after a couple of days without rain.

Answer
Hebe Blue Clouds is a very nice hebe if it grows well. I have had great difficulty with it and agree it is susceptible to mildew. A lot more sun, here in Cheshire, would help.

I would suggest Hebe ‘Sapphire’, Hebe ‘Edington’ or Hebe ‘Neil’s Choice’ or even Hebe ‘Nicola’s Blush’ or Hebe ‘Pewter Dome’. A visit to a local nursery or garden centre might give you the best idea of how good the various hebes look to you. This is what counts, what you think of it.

If you are near Hornchurch, Essex, you could try visiting Graham Hutchins at the County Park Nursery. Lynash Nurseries in Somerset, do mail order and have a very good illustrated catalogue of hebes. Have a look for both in the Nurseries page of our website.


Question – Hebe ‘Golden Esk’?
I have recently acquired a new hebe called Hebe Golden Esk, a whipcord, bright yellow / green foliage, supposedly grows to 25 cm I have consulted all my books on hebes but cannot find any reference to it. Can anybody help please.

Answer
The full name for this plant is Hebe ‘Karo Golden Esk’. It is described in ‘Hebes Here and There’ by Graham Hutchins, in the Addendum, and also in ‘International Register of Hebe Cultivars’ by L J Metcalf, under the above name. It has also been called Hebe ochracea ‘Golden Esk’.
The description in Graham’s book is as follows: ‘A natural hybrid between Hebe odora and Hebe armstrongii. Found by Dr Brian Malloy near the Esk River, Canterbury, New Zealand in 1988. Karo is an acronym for known and recorded origin’. A whipcord hebe which is green in summer and gold in winter. Hardy.


Question – Hebe bishopiana
I’m trying to purchase the Hebe Bishop to send to England. Do you know where I would be able to buy this, either from the UK or New Zealand?
Sue, New Zealand

Answer
The plant you are looking for is called Hebe bishopiana. There is also a plant known as Hebe bishopiana ‘Champagne’, but this does not resemble Hebe bishopiana, and is best thought of as Hebe ‘Champagne’. Nothing is ever simple, is it?

The best source of Hebe bishopiana in the UK is found by searching at: www.rhs.org.uk/rhsplantfinder/plantfinder.asp

Sources in New Zealand can be found by searching www.plantfinder.co.nz
Hope you find this useful


Question – Hebe ‘Celine’
I would be grateful if you could give me a description of the above Hebe as we have been unable to find anything on the net. Hazel, France

Answer – April
Hazel, I have never heard of this hebe, has anyone else? I have searched the web using Google and Dogpile and found no useful answers. There is nothing in the UK and New Zealand versions of Plant Finder, see the Hebe bishopiana query above.

Answer – July
Recently you asked me for a description of Hebe ‘Celine’. Today I bought Hebe ‘Celina’ from a local nursery (Cheshire, UK).

Looking for Hebe ‘Celina’ on the Internet I find it is available from M Droogh, a Dutch nurseryman, www.mdroogh.nl/ His description is: Hebe ‘Celina’ is a shrub with a spreading growth pattern, which does excellently in borders or in a pot on a terrace or balcony. During the months May and June it flowers abundantly. It is a real asset to any plant collection. Dead blooms should be removed.


Question – Hebe salicifolia
I am looking for a large growing hebe 8–10 feet tall. I understand that Hebe salicifolia fits the bill? Do you know where I could get one? I live in Bury, Lancashire. Also, do you know of any other varieties that reach this height? Henry, UK

Answer
Hebe salicifolia would certainly fit the bill for a tall growing hebe. According to RHS Plant Finder, Hebe salicifolia may be available from:
Ford Nursery, Castle Gardens, Ford, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland, TD15 2PZ,01890 820379

It might be worthwhile to do a search for Hebe salicifolia using www.google.co.uk and also the UK and New Zealand versions of Plant Finder, see the Hebe bishopiana query above.

There are a number of other large growing hebes that would do, although these may be less hardy. There is the Wand series of hebes, they have Hebe salicifolia as a parent and are large growing. They all have Wand in the name. Related hebes are Hebe ‘Miss E Fittall’, Hebe ‘Midsummer Beauty’ and Hebe ‘Edington’.

Also worth considering are Hebe ‘Spender’s Seedling’ (on the small side) and Hebe ‘C P Raffill’ (if you can find it).


Question – Hebe identification
Please could you help us put a name to a hebe we had in our old garden? We haven’t had any luck finding it in any books or garden centres. The leaves are purple all year round and the flowers, which are three inches long, are white at the base and pink at the end. The plant grows to around four foot. Any suggestions to what this may be will be appreciated.
Matt, UK

Answer
Hebe identification is difficult, even if the plants are in front of you. There are, or have been, many poorly document hebe hybrids in circulation. It seems likely that your plant is Hebe ‘Purple Queen’. A hebe with this name received the Award of Merit 1893. Descriptions in nursery catalogues are somewhat vague, with the best saying ‘A Hebe speciosa hybrid with glossy bronze-tinted broad leaves and purple leaf buds, flowers in large dense racemes of purple or rosy-purple or violet-purple’. It is also known as Hebe ‘Amy’.

I know of two more modern hebe hybrids with purple leaves. Hebe ‘Purple Picture’ has shiny purple young leaves (1.2–1.6 in long), that become dark green as they age, the flowers are a rich violet-purple. Hebe ‘Purple Princess’ has leaves (0.4–0.8 in long) that are purple when young, and bears short racemes of lilac-blue flowers. All three hebes grow to about three feet.

I have included leaf outlines of all three hebes to aid identification. These have come from ‘Hebes Here and There’, by Graham Hutchins.

Leaf of Hebe ‘Purple Picture’


Hebe ‘Purple Picture’

Leaf of Hebe ‘Purple Princess’


Hebe
‘Purple Princess’

Leaf of Hebe ‘Purple Queen’

Hebe
‘Purple
Queen’


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