One of the largest species (90 – 100) of evergreen shrubs, most of which are native to New Zealand, the Hebe includes many first-rate plants which can be used to excellent effect in the structure of a garden design. The genus includes plants with shrubby, tree-like, sprawling and compact habits. They are highly desirable for their abundant floral displays and attractive foliage. There is such a wide variety including really interesting and colourful cultivars, with specific form, colour of foliage and showy flower spikes, that there is a Hebe for every desired effect that you wish to create.
The flower colours range from purest white through shades of pink to deep magenta, blue, mauve, lilac, purple, and wine red or burgundy. The flowers smother the shrub in spring or summer and some species repeat their flowering period during a single season.
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The distinctive element in identifying the species is that the leaves, which have a leathery texture, grow oposite each other in pairs. Although Hebes are best suited to temperate climates, they are very forgiving and adaptable. They grow equally well in sun or shade in warm climates and prefer a sunny spot in cooler climates – as we all do! They like moist but well-drained soil and the broad-leafed types respond well to a trim once they have finished flowering. They do tend to get a bit woody if left untrimmed and although they will continue to flower, they will develop a straggly apearance - so feel free to cut them back.
The bigger-leafed species are more susceptible to frost and need some protection, especially when young. Some small leaf varieties are referred to as ‘whipcord’ Hebes (Hebe cupressoides) which have compressed, scale-like leaves resembling conifers. They have a dislike for intense heat and humidity so are better planted in the southern regions. They prefer a gritty, well-drained soil.
The genus is named after the Goddess Hebe. In Greek mythology, Hebe is the goddess of youth. She is the daughter of Zeus and Hera and was, prior to her marriage, the cup-bearer for the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus, serving them nectar and ambrosia and heaven knows what else! So plant some Hebes and imagine that the Greek gods and goddesses have come to take up residence in your garden. You are sure to find a statue of Hebe to place in the midst of a group of the beautiful shrubs.
This compact hebe with wonderful grey foliage has a neat habit ideal for rockeries and containers. Small white flowers are borne in abundance during summer. Trim lightly after flowering for shape and size. Enjoys sun to partial shade. Hardy. Evergreen.
Colour: Purple / Purple Habit: Spreading mound Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 40cm x 60cm
This hebe was developed by a Waikato Nursery as part of the Regal Series of Hebes and named for the Duchess of Cambridge. New leaf shoots are burgundy red in colour, maturing to deep olive green. Masses of purple flowers develop through summer. Trim back after flowering to keep tidy. PVR eligible.
Colour: Purple Habit: Compact Upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 75cm x 75cm
Bred in the Waikato as part of the Regal series. Hebe Charlotte is a recent member of the Regal family with glossy green foliage topped with pretty pink flowers through the summer months. Trim back after flowering to keep tidy. A hardy NZ native. PVR eligible.
Colour: Pink Habit: Compact upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 75cm x 75cm
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Native. An attractive, low growing and compact shrub with dark green foliage and masses of palest mauve flowers in early spring. Easy to grow in the sun with protection from harsh frost. Neat and tidy habit - suitable for a low hedge. Trim after flowering. Evergreen.
Colour: Mauve / White Habit: Compact Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 40cm x 40cm
Native. Small, dark green leaves make this a lovely dense, compact Hebe perfect for a natural, low maintenance hedge or border. Lavender flower spikes that fade to white as they mature enhance the bush from late winter through to summer. Prefers full sun and a good supply of moisture in the summer. Evergreen.
Colour: Lavender / White Habit: Compact rounded Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 40cm x 80cm
Native. New to the hugely popular range of Regal Hebe 'Elizabeth' will grow into a compact small shrub with masses of pink flowers through the summer months. Trim back spent flowers to keep compact. Hardy evergreen shrub.
Colour: Pink / White Habit: Compact Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 100cm x 100cm
With bright green tightly packed foliage that forms a natural mound this little Hebe is great for planting in groups to add interest and contrast to planting schemes. Dainty white flowers appear in summer but they are not the main feature. Plant in sun or part shade in well drained soil. Evergreen.
Colour: White Habit: Mounding Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 30cm x 30cm
Named for the young Prince George, this is a very tidy, attractive hebe. Bred in the Waikato as part of the royal series. The green and glossy foliage stays clean and compact all year. Masses of royal blue flowers appear in sumnmer across the top of the branches making an appealing display. Trim back after flowering to keep tidy. PVR eligible.
Colour: Blue Habit: Compact Upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 75cm x 75cm