Growing Hebe Plant In The UK: Easy Shrub For Beginners

Last Updated on April 15, 2024 by Real Men Sow

Hebe plant is an evergreen shrub that can grow to 20cm/8in up to 1.2m/ 4ft tall depending on its variety. They also have roughly the same spread. Hebes are generally hardy in the UK, but there are some varieties that are more resilient than others.

Flowering Hebe

Summary Points On Growing Hebe Plants in the UK

  • They thrive in full sun all year, but can also be grown in partial shade. The plant may not flower if it is exposed to very low light.
  • You can grow plants in both containers and open ground.
  • They thrive in soil that is slightly acidic to slightly alkaline and can thrive in both light and heavy clay soils. However, they are not able to grow in wet ground.
  • They only need watering when grown in open soil. Containers will require more watering, which is why they need to be watered from May through September.
  • Hebes can tolerate neglect well, largely because they have low nutrient needs and grow well with little pruning.
  • Some flowers are beautiful, some are variegated, and most are evergreen.
  • If they are not completely neglected, they rarely become infected or suffer from other diseases.
  • The shorter varieties are more tolerant to wind and can also thrive in areas with good salt tolerance.

Taking Care of Hebe Plant

Hebes can be quite low-maintenance shrubs, but they require a little attention to ensure their best performance.

Examine the plant in March for signs of frost damage. To restore a healthy bud, remove any damaged stems. You can do this at the same time you prune the annual prune. If you have hebe that is flowering, it is important to deadhead any flowers when they start to shrivel up to prolong the flowering period.

Hebes living in open soil should not be given nitrogen-rich fertilisers as they aren’t able to handle it. They will still appreciate a little bit of bone, blood, and fish sprinkled around them in April and July. Hebes that are grown in open soil should be watered only when it is very dry. You can water them if they are in need, but not too often.

How to Prune Hebe Plants

A prune every year will make your hebes happy. This will help keep your hebes at a manageable size. It will also prevent taller varieties of hebes from bending over and crowding the center. If you neglect to prune your hebes every year, the entire plant will eventually go bare at its base and all of the foliage will fall off.

Because new buds are visible, March is a great time to prune hebes. Don’t cut back on dead wood and always trim back to ensure that there are at least two buds left on each stem.

Where To Plant Hebe

For shorter varieties, it is easier to keep your plants in good shape. The top 5cm/ 2in should be removed.

For taller varieties, prune the top 20 cm / 8in. A few stems can be pruned back, but always leave two buds. This will allow the plant to open up its centre and encourage new, vibrant growth.

Hebe Plant Grown in Containers

Hebes can be grown in containers by watering them regularly so that they are kept moist, but not dry. Hebes in containers can use rainwater from the waterbutt.

From April through September, give your plants a feed every two months. Add a little bit of fish, bone, and blood to the compost.  Plants should be kept out of the wind and protected from frost in Winter. This can be done in a heated greenhouse or against the wall.

Common Pests and Diseases on Hebe Plant

Hebes are remarkable healthy plants, but they can be affected by a few diseases.

Leaf Spot

It causes small brown spots on the leaves. Although there is no immediate effect, the disease can cause the plant to lose its vigour and become leggy if it is left alone.

This fungal disease is most evident in October and February. When the new leaves develop, older leaves that have been affected by this fungal disease are shed. Some years, symptoms can appear as early as June.

The best way to treat the condition is to apply a general-purpose fungicide in September, or as soon as symptoms become apparent if they are earlier. It is recommended to apply two or three times per week.

Downy Mildew

There are brown spots on the tops and undersides of leaves with light grey fungal growth. Lower leaves are more susceptible than those higher up in the plant. Peronospora grisea is responsible for this. These conditions include poor air circulation, cold soil and dampness. 

There is no cure to this condition, and the best you can do is avoid these conditions. It may be necessary to relocate your plant to a more sunny spot. If you don’t take care of your hebe, it will eventually die.

Root Rot

These symptoms include whole stems that turn brown and then die back. The roots can be found rotten if you pull the plant apart.

Bad drainage, poor soil conditions and cold are all major causes of slow growth. The only way to fix the problem is to improve soil conditions. The best thing for most affected plants is to have them removed and destroyed. Replant the affected plant in a better area and with a new one.

Propagating Hebes

Semi-ripe cuttings are the best for Hebes and are best taken between July and September. You should look for stems that have grown this year and where the stem’s base is slightly woody, but the top 10cm to 15cm (4in-6in) is softened and green. The best stems are at the top of the plant, fully exposed to sunlight. Remember to avoid cutting stems with flowers.

Cut a 10-cm/4-in stem with a sharp knife just below the leaf node. Reduce the number of lower leaves to four or five at the top. The cutting can be dipped in hormone rooting powder, but this is completely optional. Place the cutting in a 8cm/3in container of multi-purpose compost. You can insert it further, but the leaves should not touch the compost.

Water the pot starting at the base. Then, add a marker with the variety name of the plant and the date it was cut. The pot should be covered with a plastic bag that is kept away from the leaves. The cuttings should be kept in a cool place, but not in direct sunlight. After four weeks, the cuttings should be taken out of the bag. At that point they will have started to root. The cutting should be kept in the same pot throughout winter, in a frost-free location such as a greenhouse or against the wall of a heated home.

The plant should be potted up in a larger container (15cm/6in) by spring next year. Make sure to water the plant well and give it a few months of food, including blood, fish, and bone. The hebe can be placed outside in its final place or into a larger container in September.


Real Men Sow
Real Men Sow

Hello, I’m Pete and I’m currently based in the west of Scotland, in a small place called Rosneath, where I’m exploring my garden adventures. I personally started gardening around 6 years ago and initially, I started out by growing my favorite fruits and berries, such as strawberries, Raspberries & Gooseberries. Since then I’ve added a lot of vegetables and working closely with my neighbor, it’s been a lot of fun.