Growing Hebe

Latest Update 31st August 2016.

Growing Hebe
  • I have a number of different Hebe varieties with deep purple flowers through various shades of pink to pure white.  I don't know the exact varieties since they all originated from cuttings donated by friends and family.
  • Most Hebe varieties originated in New Zealand, and most of them like full sun.  I have one which doesn't (see photo).  It grows best in winter and flowers in late winter into spring.  I grow mine in partial shade to protect its leaves from hot sun in summer.
  • Hebes grow in a wide range of habitats, from coastal areas to alpine regions.  My Hebe are all shrubs varying in size from 750mm high to over 1500mm. They all have attractive compact foliage, but are grown mainly for their beautiful flowers which mostly bloom in summer.
  • They attract pollinating insects such as bees and butterflies.
Details.
  • Binomial name:                                    Hebe speciosa
  • Family:                                                Plantaginaceae.
  • Classification:                                      Evergreen Shrub.
  • Mature Plant size:                                Maximum 1500mm high x 1500mm wide.
  • Garden bed type:                                 Drip line irrigated. 
  • Recommended soil pH:                         pH tolerant 
  • Climate:                                              Warm Temperate.
  • Geography:                                          Southern Hemisphere. 
Growing Conditions:
  • Full sun and semi-shade.  
  • Minimise soil disturbances to maintain a natural soil structure.  
Propagating new plants.
  • They can be propagated from softwood cuttings as soon as the plant starts to grow vigorously in spring.  
  • I cut off shoots about 100mm long and strip them of their leaves until there are only 3 or 4 left at the top of each cutting.
  • I plant these cuttings into small pots with good quality organic potting mix and soak them in a tray containing about10mm of rainwater for about an hour.  I then transfet them and bury the pots 15mm deep in the sand in my Eco-propagating bed.
  • Select a spot to plant your new shrub and remove any decaying organic material to the compost heap. 
Feed the Soil. 
  • Clear a space for your new hebe bush in September and dispose of any organic waste in the compost.
  • Apply a 60mm thick top dressing of home made compost and cover with fresh straw mulch.
  • Leave for 4 weeks to boost worm and microbial activity. 
Growing Instructions
  • Move some of the mulch to one side and dig a hole twice as big as the new plant's root ball.  Place the plant in the hole and back fill with soil.  Water it in well with dilute seaweed extract.
  • Water the plant every few days until it is established, and then allow the drip irrigation to take over. 
  • They remain vigorous plants for many years, but when they become too woody and gaps appear in their canopy, replace them with plants grown from cuttings.  Choose a new location for the replacement to give the original soil a rest.
  • Prune them lightly after flowering to promote good structure and to maintain a compact habit.
  • Spray the foliage with aerated compost tea twice a year in late autumn and late spring.
Organic Pest Control.
  • General:
    • Regular applications of aerated compost tea boost the natural defences of plants by colonising the leaf surfaces with beneficial microbes.  They also defend the plant against airborne pests and diseases.
    • Similarly, proper soil preparation including regular applications of home made compost boosts the community of beneficial microbes, which defend the plants roots against plant pathogens.