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All About Potentilla

These oft-overlooked shrubs are workhorses in our summer gardens. Unassuming foliage and a tidy, short habit, they start blooming in early summer and then just keep on going, often ‘till frost. Flowers come in white, shades of yellow, pastel pink and golden orange. (In our hotter weather, the pink, orange, and reddish forms all fade in the heat to paler colors.) All they ask is full sun, well-drained soil, and maybe the occasional topdressing with lime.

Native to most of the Northern hemisphere, they are at their southern limit here in the mid-Atlantic, but they still manage to do quite well with minimal input. It’s never going to get too cold here for them, so they’re reliable choices if you must garden in containers, though do make sure their soil has excellent drainage. Given their preferences, great partners would include herbs like Lavender, Rosemary, and Thyme; other flowering shrubs like the dwarf Butterfly Bushes, dwarf Lilacs, and Boxwood;  and perennials like Yarrow, Moss Phlox, Artemisia, Salvia, and small grasses such as Pennisetum and Blue Fescue. They’d look great in a cottage garden-style border or a rock or crevice garden where you can add winter interest with hardy succulents and dwarf evergreens.

by Miri Talabac, Woody Plant Buyer

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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