Hebes are mostly native to New Zealand though frequently grown in the British Isles, parts of western Europe and the west coast of North America. This shrub can be seen in flower in some supermarkets and garden centers in July or August – a plant for the conservatory although it can be kept in a large room for a few years. The problem is that it flowers from summer to early fall and this is the time it should spend outdoors.
The floral spikes are made up of tiny flowers which fade to white with age. Hebes are easily recognized by their bottle-brush flower spikes usually produced in large numbers. Hebes leaves are noted for their beautiful appearance throughout the year and usually come in numerous colors including silver, green, grey and red, which serve as a great attraction to butterflies, bees and other insects.
Their summer flowers are highly attractive to bees. Compact types are good in containers. Hebe andersonii is an evergreen flowering shrub growing about 3 ft high. Leaves are oblong and leathery, and flowers are pink or mauve. The variety H. variegata has very attractive cream-edged foliage.
Hebe ‘Blue Clouds’ is an excellent hybrid with long spikes of bluish-mauve flowers from early summer until well into fall. Hardy zones 8 to 10 in full sun on sandy, well drained soil. H. ‘Great Orme’ is elegant hybrid which has narrow green leaves and spikes of pale pink flowers, ageing to white and grows 5 ft high.
H. macrantha is not one of the hardiest and requires a warm spot, but it is a good rock garden shrub as it grows to just 2 ft high; it has white flowers. Another popular dwarf variety is H. ‘Baby Marie’, one of the first to flower. Growing to just 0,5 ft high, it has reddish brown stems and pale lilac flowers.
Hebe stricta has green, lance-shaped leaves and the white to pale purplish-pink flowers, borne on spikes up to 6 inches in length, during summer. Hebe salicifolia is an attractive, fast growing, dense, spreading, large evergreen shrub, that is native to Chile and South Island in New Zealand. It has the willowy, bright green, lance-shaped leaves and the white to pale lilac flowers, borne on drooping racemes.
Secrets of success
Temperature: Average warmth. Keep cool (50-60°F) in winter.
Light: Bright light or semi-shade; protect from direct sunshine.
Water: Water liberally from spring to fall and reduce watering in winter.
Air Humidity: Mist leaves occasionally.
Planting: Planting in the fall or spring. One of the most important things to do before planting a Hebes is to place its roots in water for a couple of hours and dig a big hole with afterwards to plant it in. Hebes are sun lovers so choose an open spot, but remember to check on hardiness. Plant in well-drained soil.
Repotting: Repot, if necessary, in spring.
Propagation: Take stem cuttings in spring or summer.
H. ‘Great Orme’
H. ‘Baby Marie’
H. ‘Wiri Joy’
H. ‘Blue Gem’
H. brachysiphon ‘White Gem’
H. anomala ‘Purpurea Nana’
H. ‘Silver Dollar’