A Potentilla shrub is a deciduous flowering shrub that is used as an informal flowering hedge or in a shrub border. After reading over the facts and information on different varieties of potentilla, and information on how to grow and care for them, you should be able to choose the best variety for your landscape needs.
Potentilla Shrubs Facts and Growing Conditions
Potentilla shrubs, belong to the genus “Cinquefoil”, French for “five-leaves”, and are members of the Rose family. Potentillas are low deciduous shrubs and perennials valued for their colorful five-petaled flowers that appear nonstop from June until frost. The blooms resemble wide-open wild roses and are usually yellow, but there are white and reddish cultivars. Potentilla are attractive planted with evergreens in a low informal flowering hedge, in a shrub borders, with perennials, and among foundation plantings. They also make handsome ground covers that need little care or watering once established.
The shrubs are native to the Northern Hemisphere and are hardy in Zones 2 or 3-7. They reach a height of 2-3 feet, and grow slowly. They have a low, upright, open-branched, rounded growth habit. The potentilla flowers are 5-petaled, 1 1/4” across, and rather flat in appearance.
The fruit is small, dry and single seeded. The foliage is compound, composed of 3 to 7 leaflets, to 1” long, and is grayish to dark green in appearance. It requires a well-drained, fertile, humusy soil and is pH adaptable. Potentilla should be planted in full sun for best color, but will grow in partial shade. The shrub prefers moisture, but tolerates some drought. Pruning should be done in late winter. *Some cultivars once listed in this group, are now divided into other cultivar groups.
Potentilla Shrub Varieties
Potentilla fruticosa, shrubby cinquefoil, is the most popular species of potentilla. It grows less than 2 or 4 feet by 2-4 wide, and bears bright yellow, red-orange, or white flowers, depending on the variety, and thrives in urban settings. While the species itself is not very showy, some of the cultivars are. *There are many more varieties in this group not listed.
- ‘Goldfinger’ has dark green foliage and bright yellow blooms.
- 'PinkBeauty' has pink flowers, very clear in appearance, on bright green foliage.
- 'McKay's White' has white blooms that start out a creamy color on dark green foliage.
- 'Mango Tango' ('Uman") has flower petals in orangish-red progressing to yellow.
Potentilla parvifolia, small leaf cinquefoil, differs from fruticosa as it has uniformly fine foliage with seven somewhat hairy, narrow, medium green, 1/4” leaflets, whereas the former variety has five leaves. The leaves are densely set along the stems, which are semi-erect. The mid-June flowering is golden yellow or deep orange, up to an inch wide, and produced abundantly. Varieties are adaptable to almost any soil, and will accept drought well and even flower satisfactorily with some modest shading. A few cultivars are available.
- ‘Gold Drop’ (‘Farreri’) is compact, dwarfed, and hardy into zone 3. It carries leaflets between 1/4 to 3/4” long plus small flowers of deep yellow.
- ‘Pumila’ is very low and dwarfed with noticeably silky-haired foliage between 1/8 and 1/4 inch in length.
- 'Tenuiloba’ has almost linear leaflets and is more hairy than the parent plant.
Zones 3 to 8 (variable)
This group are either garden discoveries or created hybrids that come from davurica, fruticosa, parvifolia, (and other species) without clear parental histories. They differ somewhat from each other in their hardiness and require some trial-and-error-planting to determine their adaptability to local growing areas. They are widely available in nurseries. They have an attractive form and flower in a wide selection of color values.
- ‘Beanii’ displays a dwarfed form with very green leaves and white flowers.
- ‘Farrar’s White’ has a compact and dense habit with generous white flowers.
- ‘Friedrichsenii’, (‘Berlin Beauty’) shows a robust and erect habit to 6 feet with somewhat gray-green leaves and an irregular outline that may be suitable as an informal hedge. It flowers throughout the summer withe pale yellow blooms.
- ‘Grandiflora’ is erect and strong, and grows to 5 feet with large sage-green leaves and dense clusters of 11/4” canary-yellow flowers.
- ‘Katherine Dykes’ (‘Kathryn Dykes’) produces silvery foliage and an abundance of primrose-yellow blossoms all summer on a plant 6 feet high.
- ‘Klondike’ (‘Klondyke’) has a swarfed habit. It is very similar to parvifolia cv. ’Gold Drop’ but produces larger, deep yellow blossoming.
- ‘Longacre’ maintains a matlike, dwarfed appearance and carries large, bright, sulfur-yellow flowers.
- ‘Maanelys’ (‘Moonlight’) is erect to 3 feet with dark blue-green leaves ad pale yellow blossoms intermittently carried throughout the summer.
- ‘Mount Everest’ has a densely compact habit with some vigor to become 5 feet high. The dark green foliage sets off the 1 1/4” wide blossoms attractively, but they are produced only intermittently during the summer months.
- ‘Ochroleuca’ has cream-colored blooms and a general resemblance to cv. ‘Friedrichsenii’ in habit; it may also prove useful as an informal hedge.
- ‘Primrose Beauty’ is a superior cultivar with a free-flowering habit and yellow blossoms with deeper yellow centers. The foliage is gray-green and small-sized, and appears on arching branches.
- ‘Rehderana’ grows 4 feet with very tiny leaves and light yellow flowers.
- ‘Red Ace’ has tomato-red flowering which will keep in intensity and not fade if it is planted where it gets some shade.
- ‘Tangerine’ shows a dwarfed, wide-spreading, mounded habit and pale copper-yellow blossoms when given partial shade, in full sun the flowers fade to just yellow.
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