How to Grow Hebe Shrubs

Hebe shrub in bloom


Creativ Studio Heinemann / Getty Images

The Hebe shrub family is a favorite of many gardeners because of the plant's easy cultivation and care requirements. These showy shrubs are naturally found on the mountainsides and by the coasts of New Zealand, but their versatility has made them popular picks for landscaping and container gardening around the world.

Once part of the Veronica genus, these plants are still sometimes referred to as "shrubby veronica." But modern botanical classification places Hebe shrubs in a genus of their own.

These compact shrubs are best known for their colorful leaves and blooms. They come in a wide range of foliage colors including green tones, purple, maroon, blue-green, and gray. Their spiked blooms can be found in red, pink, white, purple, or blue.

With almost 100 species in the Hebe genus to choose from, there is a shrub to suit most landscaping needs and preferences.

Botanical Name Hebe spp.
Common Name Hebe shrub, shrubby Veronica
Plant Type Perennial, shrub
Mature Size 1 to 6 feet high; 4 to 5 feet wide
Sun Exposure Full sun to partial shade
Soil Type Loose, well-draining
Soil pH Slightly acidic to slightly alkaline
Bloom Time Summer to fall
Flower Color Red, pink, white, purple, blue
Hardiness Zones 7 to 11
Native Area New Zealand
Hebe plant foliage close-up
Green foliage of hebe plant
Hebe plant with purple blooms
Hebe plant in bloom

Hebe Shrub Care

The striking appearance of the hebe shrub family can be enjoyed in almost any garden. These easy to care for shrubs prefer mild conditions, both in the summer and winter. If you live in colder regions and would like to add these plants to your home, select smaller leaved hebe varieties. It is not a steadfast rule, but generally the smaller the leaf, the more cold-hardy the shrub will be.

Hebe shrubs are great additions in a large garden, but can easily be grown in containers as well. They love lots of light, well-draining soil, and don’t require much fertilizing. And if you’d like to add to your hebe family, they propagate easily to create more shrubs.

Light

Hebe shrubs do best in full sun to partial shade. However, too much shade can make them leggy in appearance and may cause their blooming to stop.

Soil

Well-draining soil is a must for most hebe shrubs. They like moist soil, but never wet. The Hebe genus doesn’t do well with extremes in soil pH. Most can withstand slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil conditions, but neutral soil is generally best.

Water

Though they are known for their drought-tolerance, the hebe shrub still requires a good amount of water to maintain optimal growth and healthy foliage. A weekly watering schedule will keep it happy, full, and bright.

Temperature and Humidity

The Hebe genus is quite hardy and can tolerate cold temperatures. However, heavy frosts or a deep freeze can really take a toll on these shrubs. Be sure to protect them by wrapping or covering them before the freezing temperatures arrive. These shrubs do best in a climate with warm summers and mild winters.

Fertilizer

To add to their easy-care, hebe shrubs do not require much fertilizing. If you would like to give your plant a boost, adding organic matter or compost in late winter or early spring will help encourage growth and flowering.

Varieties of Hebe Shrubs

Hebe 'Variegata'
Hebe 'Variegata'
Hebe 'Red Edge'
Hebe 'Red Edge' mtreasure / Getty Images

There are close to 100 different species within the Hebe genus, and even more cultivar types. Be sure to do your research to make sure the type you select will work well with your garden conditions and design requirements. Below are just a few popular examples:

  • Hebe 'Variegata': As this cultivar's name suggests, it has variegated leaves with a green-gray center and cream edges. When in bloom, purple flower spikes appear. This is a rather tall garden variety of hebe shrub, with a mature height of five to six feet.
  • Hebe 'Western Hills': This hebe shrub has a frosty, clean appearance with a combination of silver-gray leaves and bright white or pale lavender colored flowers.
  • Hebe 'Red Edge': This eye-catching variety sports silver blue-green leaves. When flowering, the tips of the bush explode in beautiful red-maroon colors as the flowers bloom.
  • Hebe 'Grace Kelly': Famous for its lovely variegated white and green leaves, this is a very popular hebe shrub. To complement its cheerful leaves, this variety boasts bright purple flowers when blooming.

Pruning

Pruning hebe shrubs is easy and helps keep your plant looking full and beautiful. Once their flowers fade, trim them off to encourage more to bloom. Once your bush is done flowering, you can cut it back using the '1/3 Rule' for pruning shrubs to create a bushier look.

Throughout the growing season, you may find it advantageous to occasionally prune your shrub to maintain its polished looked. This will keep it from taking on a leggy appearance.

Propagating Hebe Shrubs

Propagating hebe plants is simple. The best way to do this is through cuttings. Here’s how:

1. Using clean snips, trim off a 3 to 4-inch long section from your bush.

2. Remove the bottom leaves of the clipping, about an inch high.

3. Dip the cutting into rooting hormone.

4. Plant the cut end into moist potting soil and keep your cuttings moist, but not wet.

Growing Hebe Shrubs in Containers

Hebe shrubs look fantastic in the garden, but also make lovely potted plants—and this means they can also be moved indoors during cold winter weather.

If you would like to keep your hebe in a container, keep in mind how large the mature size of the variety you select will become. Smaller varieties make the best potted Hebe shrubs.

Be sure that the container you choose is well-draining, as hebe shrubs do not like wet soil. By keeping it pruned, watered, and in full sun, you will have a beautiful potted hebe.