The potentilla fruticosa plant is a pretty and cheerful-looking shrub that has just a touch of the wildflower look. You may know this shrub by one of its many nicknames, such as shrubby cinquefoil, widdy, shrubby potentilla, and golden hardhack. If you don’t have a lot of gardening hours under your belt then you might want to start out with a plant that’s hardy and fairly uncomplicated to grow—like the potentilla fruticosa. The following information will provide you with the basics on growing and maintaining this small shrub.
The potentilla fruticosa is a small to medium-sized shrub that can be a small as one foot in height or as tall as four feet. The spread or width of the potentilla is usually equal or greater than its height, which makes it great for ground cover in areas that just need to be spruced up with a dash of color and texture. This shrub has very textured leaves with striped groves running down the length of each oval-shaped leaf. They are medium-green or blue-green in color and grow in an alternating pattern on the stem, with anywhere from three to seven leaves per stem depending on its size. Another quality that most people find to be surprisingly refreshing occurs in the autumn season when the leaves turn a bright yellow-orange color.
The potentilla’s flowers are small but very charming. The flowers are only about one to one and a half inches in diameter but their bright yellow color and cup-shaped centers prove to be very eye-catching. If you’ve already got enough yellow flowers in your garden or if you simply prefer another color, then you can always look into some of the new hybrid varieties that have been developed. These varieties primarily display different flower colors, such as white, pink, and even orange. If you have never before seen a potentilla fruticosa, then you might be surprised to learn that it produces fruit! You certainly wouldn’t want to eat the tiny clusters of fruit, but they do add a nice burst of red or brown color to the shrub, especially in the winter time through which fruit production persists.
Upon maturity, you can expect a small shrub with bright, delicate flowers that is pretty but not as polished or refined as other plants. In fact, it has a bit of a “woodsy” feel to it that can compliment a very wide range of plants that you might already have or plan to have in your garden.
The potentilla fruticosa is well known in the gardening world as being hardy and fairly easy to grow. This means that you won’t have to worry so much about coddling the plant through a harsh winter or spending hours each week delicately tending to the plant. According to the zoning guidelines suggested by the United States Department of Agriculture, the potentilla is suitable for growth in Zones 2 through 7, which encompasses a great deal of the country. This is especially good news if you live up north where harsh winter temperatures, ice, and snow can make it difficult to cultivate a variety of plants.
When choosing a spot for your potentilla, you need to consider the amount of sunlight exposure that you will have as well as the soil’s water draining capability. As for the soil type, quality, and pH—those factors really do not matter with the potentilla because it is so tolerant of all soils, even those of poor quality. The area that you choose for the potentilla should ideally have anywhere from full sunlight exposure to partial shade. This means that at best, the plant receives at least eight hours of bright, direct sunlight or, on the other end of the scale, it receives at least four hours of sunlight. If you plant the shrub in an area that is partially shaded, do try to ensure that the light this spot receives is concentrated, such as afternoon sunlight. The more sunlight exposure the plant has, the better its overall health and flower production will be.
As mentioned earlier, the other factor that you need to take into consider when choosing a spot for your potentilla is drainage, or how well the soil allows water to pass through it. As tolerant as the potentilla is to poor conditions, it cannot withstand long term exposure to water. Planting this shrub in an area where water may pool around the roots can prevent the shrub from getting sufficient airflow. This will cause the roots to rot, promote fungus growth in the soil, and will eventually kill the plant. Therefore, a level plot of land would best suit this shrub.
The great thing about potentilla fruticosa is that you don’t really have to do anything to maintain the plant. It does grow to be quite full, so you may want to prune away branches or leaves if you feel that the shrub becomes too “bushy” for your liking. Most gardeners, however, find that the plant looks fine without any pruning. If you want the shrub to look thinner at the base and more tree-like, then you should prune the branches while the tree is young.