General characteristics of Veronica Hebe
Genus that includes numerous very vigorous evergreen shrubs originating in New Zealand and Australia. It looks like a thick roundish bush that can even reach two meters in height; the leaves are oval, greyish-green, in many variegated species of yellow or white; depending on the size of the leaves, the plants can be divided into two main categories, the species with large foliage (7-10 cm) and those with small leaves (2-4 cm).
In summer it produces long spikes of flowers of various colors, from white to purple, which rise from the foliage; most species produce a second flowering during the autumn and winter months; some species of hebe they have an inconspicuous flowering, and are cultivated for the compact cushions of evergreen leaves they produce. For better growth it is recommended to prune the plant lightly after flowering.
These plants like sunny, or even partially shady, locations if grown in full shade growth can be scarce and flowering often non-existent. Most species are hardy and do not fear the cold; some species instead slightly fear the cold, and therefore must be protected with non-woven fabric during periods of prolonged frost. It may happen that the dry heat of the summer causes burns of the leaves, therefore we recommend, in regions with a very hot summer climate, to provide the plants with a few hours of shade during the summer days.
|Family and gender|
Scrophulariaceae, more than 100 species and countless cultivars
|Type of plant||Evergreen shrubs|
|Rustic||Average, depending on the variety|
|Ground||Tolerant, preferably subacid. No too compact|
|colors||Pink, red, purple, white|
|Composting||Once or twice a year|
|Flowering||June - November|
The hebe they are evergreen shrubs belonging to the Scropulaceae family, mostly from New Zealand. Until a few decades ago this genus did not exist because the Hebe were considered a subspecies of the Veroniche, characterized in particular by the persistent leaves and above all by having a more bushy appearance and woody or semi-woody stems.
The genus is however quite vast. In fact it includes more than 100 species and a whole series of crosses, hybrids and cultivars. They can take the most varied forms: from dwarf to hanging, to erect, bushy and arborescent.
They adapt to many types of gardens. In particular, they are excellent for green areas near the sea (since they tolerate both salt and strong winds well) and, the smaller ones, are well placed in the rock garden.
Speaking of watering and irrigation it must be said immediately that, as far as Hebe is concerned, it is preferable not to let the soil dry too much between one watering and another; in summer water often, even every day during the hottest periods. Throughout the growing season, from March to October, add fertilizer for flowering plants to the watering of the water once a month.
History and geographical distribution
Recent studies have established that the ancestors of today's genus arrived in New Zealand in recent times, about 5 million years ago. The places of origin were probably Australia and Asia. In N.Z. however, they found their ideal environment and developed creating many new species. In particular we have seen that the first development took place on the mountains and only later were the valleys and areas near the coasts colonized.
We can say that in that country it is the most widespread genus of flowering plants and you can find more than 100 species with particular characteristics adapted to different climatic areas: mountainous, semi-tropical or even semi-desert. They are widespread throughout the country, from the major islands to the very small ones.
However, some particular types have also been identified on the island of Rapa (in French Polynesia) halfway between New Zealand and South America. The Hebe elliptica and hebe salicifolia species have also been found in Latin America.
It particularly likes loose, well-drained soils, rich in organic matter, even if it develops without problems in any garden soil. These plants prefer a slightly acidic and well-drained soil. Bigogna absolutely avoid heavy, clayey and too compact substrates. These in fact tend to retain too much water and can cause root rot and asphyxia.
Veronica is a very rustic and resistant species that has no diseases or insects that affect it in a particular and specific way. To avoid the onset of any kind of disease due to a weakening of the plant, the first rules to be respected are the choice of an adequate soil and an irrigation correlated to the temperature and the needs of this plant.
The soil or cultivation soil must be tending to acid and the plant needs loose soils rich in organic substance. In addition to this, this variety must be planted in well-drained soil that should not be watered in an exaggerated manner or, in all ways, water stagnation should be avoided. The stagnation is in fact one of the first causes of a possible fungal attack or of a beginning of root rot or of the collar.
In addition to these more cultural aspects, more related to prevention and good cultivation practices, those who grow these plants in the garden will have to pay attention mainly to the aphids that can attack the leaves of this plant.
Multiplication of Veronica Hebe
In spring you can take cuttings about 10-15 cm long, which must be rooted in a mixture of peat and sand in equal parts; new plants should be grown in pots for at least two years before being planted.
Pests and diseases
This plant is very resistant and hardly affected by pests and diseases; sometimes the black aphids completely ruin the ears of flowers. The most important aspect during their planting is to prepare an excellent drainage. You must then dig a hole at least twice the size of the container. On the bottom we will create a good drainage layer composed of gravel or expanded clay.
An excellent aid for growth will be some handful of organic fertilizer (manure, cornunghia, guano or bone meal). If the soil in our garden is too compact, it will be better to mix it with fine river sand and possibly some agricultural vermiculite before reinserting it into the hole. Both of these materials will help keep the soil aerated, moist, but not excessively soaked.
Hebe are evergreen plants, usually bushes. In more rare cases, however, they can also take the form of bushes or trees up to 7 meters high. They carry apical inflorescences collected in panniculus or racemes. The colors can be very varied and go from white to purple, to red to pink.
The leaves are in rows and are opposite two by two. If you look from above they form a cross.
In Italy almost all the specimens are sold in containers and therefore the plant can be planted at any time of the year. The best time, however, is spring (in areas with more severe winters such as the north or mountain areas) or autumn (in the south and along the coasts).
It is advisable in any case to prepare a good mulch around the roots for the first year, consisting of manure, pine bark or other insulating material.
The ideal exposure is certainly full sun. In this location they will surely give their best and flourish with full continuity. However it is in this respect very tolerant plants. They will grow very well even in a position only in half-shade and manage to tolerate the shadow quite well. The only drawback will be, in this case, the poor or totally absent flowering. It can however be a good choice, especially in the variegated cultivars, to light up areas that are not very sunny.
We can say that the hebe are average rustic plants, but that this aspect strictly depends on the variety and I therefore refer to the specific description (or in any case specific information must be requested from the retailer).
In general, individuals with large leaves and very showy flowers are not very resistant to frost and therefore should be grown outside only in areas where they never fall below 5 ° C. They tend to be considered as houseplants or to be collected in a cold greenhouse.
The cultivars and varieties that instead bring small leaves and white flowers are generally more rustic and you can try growing them externally. The advice is in any case to place them in a sheltered area (especially if we live in the northern regions), perhaps against a wall facing south. If we cannot do this, it will be good to protect the roots with leaves, mature manure, grass. We can also try to cover them with a special cloth.
Pruning for these plants is fundamental, in particular for any variety. In fact, it may happen that the lack of care of this aspect can cause an excessively branched and consequently disordered appearance. The best time to intervene is the months of March, April and May.
The most important intervention occurs after the first flowering. Care must be taken to remove only the old flower heads because new ones will appear on the youngest branches. A too drastic pruning will be an obstacle to this process and you will not see any more buds until the following year.
If the plant is in the ground it needs little intervention. The ideal is to administer a fertilizer for acidophilic plants (such as that for rhododendrons) at the end of winter and in mid-summer. It will help to maintain beautiful foliage and encourage consistent flowering.
If the specimen is in pot, a fertilizer for flowering plants can also be distributed once every two weeks, during the growing season.
The hebe need fresh soil, but not too full of water. In the open ground they usually do not need interventions, except in the case of long periods without precipitation.
If we live in particularly hot and dry areas we can intervene once every 10 days distributing a good amount of water.
If the plant is in a container, instead, it is good to irrigate before making sure that the substrate is totally dry even in depth. The best method is to insert a finger into the soil, at least two or three centimeters from the surface. If it is dry we distribute water in abundance. However, we always avoid the use of the saucer which is by far the leading cause of root rot.
These plants can easily be reproduced by cutting. The segments must be taken during the vegetative period, preferably during the summer. The cut must be made in correspondence of a knot, on semi-woody stems. You must then remove most of the leaves and spread a powder based on rooting hormones on the cut. They will be placed in a very light soil based on sand and perlite or sand and peat
Other parasites and hepat
In general, these are very resistant plants. They can be attacked by some insects (such as aphids or caterpillars), but the damage is never such as to force intervention with insecticides.
It should be noted, however, that these plants are very popular with pollinating insects such as bees, bumblebees and butterflies. Then insert them in your garden if you want them to be populated with these extraordinary animals.
It may happen that these plants are instead affected by cryptogamic problems such as oidium, black scrub and downy mildew. In this case it is good to clean the plant and above all avoid wetting the foliage during irrigation.
These must also not be too many to avoid the emergence of radical rot.
Hebe: Variety hebe
Hebe albicans It is the most widespread in our gardens because it is quite rustic. It has simple and opposite leaves. The flowers, white, are apical racemes produced from summer to autumn. It forms a round and dense bush.
Hebe hulkeana one of the most beautiful. It can reach 2 meters in height and produces long panicle inflorescences, ramified with a beautiful lavender lilac.
Hebe cupressoides it also reaches 2 meters in height and resembles the appearance of a miniature cypress. It has small, flat and linear leaves, very short and dark green. The flowers are in groups of 3-8, small, pale blue. It is cultivated as an evergreen plant without giving too much importance to flowering.
Hebe formosa it reaches a height of one meter and has a compact and erect habit with lance-shaped leaves. The axillary racemes have small purple flowers. The flowering is very long.
Hebe salicifolia reaches 3 meters in height. The inflorescences are cylindrical, pink, lilac or white.
Hebe speciosa very interesting species for the construction of hedges in temperate climate zones. They have a dense flowering. One of the most decorative is the Autumn Glory with bright blue flowers. Very similar is the Seduisante. but with crimson inflorescences.
Veronica is an evergreen plant native to North America, Asia and Europe, generally it is co
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