Flower of the Week: Potentilla

 

If you're short on space or time and prefer sitting out in the garden rather than carefully tending it, potentilla is the plant for you! Give it a good start in life (see planting instructions below), then sit back and enjoy its profusion of dainty flowers from spring to early autumn, year after year. This compact shrub is one of the easiest plants to grow towards the front of a border. Practically disease free and decidedly low maintenance, a potentilla plant will delight you for a decade and more.

 

Rose-like flowers Above neat clusters of little green leaves come pretty flowers (3cm) with five petals that look like tiny wild roses. Potentilla come in all colours, with yellow, red, pink, white and orange among the most popular. Peak flowering is May to June, but blooms will continue all summer long.

Almost any soil You can plant potentilla in pots, but they do best in the ground. The good news is that they aren't fussy. Acid, alkaline, neutral; sand, chalk or loam - as long as the site isn't waterlogged, potentilla will grow well in any moist, free-draining soil. The plant will thrive in partial shade, but for the best show of flowers, choose a spot in full sun. There's nothing special to consider when planting out, either.

Low maintenance Water well when planting, but once the plant is established, you won't need to worry. Unless there's a drought. Start pruning your Potentilla shrubs for structure in their third year after planting. Prune them early in spring before their new canes emerge and while their old ones are easily accessible. The goal is to establish and maintain a dense-but-tidy framework that requires a minimum of upkeep. Plants die back to their woody stems over winter, but can be left alone without any protection.