Hebe Survey 2024

Hebes. Shrubby Veronica. Whatever you call them, they are fabulous. In my maritime Pacific Northwest climate we are lucky to grow many of these valuable evergreen shrubs. But, sadly, not all.

In my last hebe survey, which you can revisit here, most of the hebes in my garden were featured. Since the incredibly cold January spell this year wreaked havoc on many area gardens, there are updates to my former list. To my pleasant surprise most hebes/veronicas in my garden were completely unaffected by the extreme cold and ice, cementing their position as superstars. Many gardeners had issues with hebes so I want to go over which ones have proven to be resilient and which ones have had issues.

Note: Hebes are now re-re-classified as belonging to the genus Veronica. That is to say they used to be, then they became Hebes and now back to Veronica. To avoid confusion, I will stick with Hebe for now.

Hebe buxifolia in bloom. In this post I list plants that in my experience and opinion are the best and hardiest hebes, ending with some that either saw damage or died all together. In general, hebes enjoy a sunny aspect and well-drained soil, although they are remarkably adaptable. If grown in too much shade they can become leggy and lose their charming habit.

Of all the hebes in my garden, Hebe pinguifolia 'Sutherlandii' is pretty much perfect. There are several specimens in the garden, none of which have shown signs of disease, damage or stress. They are hardy to zone 7, need no pruning though they naturally look like they are pruned, are a good size at a couple feet tall by a few feet wide. Snow, ice nor heat seem to impact them. I don't water them, either, though a weekly watering in summer would not go amiss. Here are two in bloom, though I would say I do not grow any hebes for flowers, only for foliage so flowers are a bonus.

Neat, mounded shape gives the impression I prune these. I do not.

Neat blue-green foliage always looks smart.

Hebe 'Western Hills' is about two or so feet tall and wide. It has silvery foliage and white blooms. It is cold and wind hardy and adaptable to partial shade.

This is a photograph from this week, one of several in my garden. All are so resilient, right up there with 'Sutherlandii'. Hardy to zone 7.

In late spring its flowers are quite charming. 

Hebe 'Karo Golden Esk' is a fantastic ochre green color that really stands out in winter months. It is a whipcord type hebe meaning its leaves are cord-like rather than pronounced individual leaves. This hebe has grown considerably from the 2' x '2 size it is supposed to be, I would say the oldest one in my garden, some eight years old, is about 4' tall x 5' wide. Even so, these are incredibly resilient alpine hebes that look great no matter what. In heavy snow they lay down but bounce right back up once the snow is gone.

A younger specimen paired with silvery foliaged plants.

My largest hebe was getting far too large, encroaching on a path, so I pruned it pretty hard to see what will happen. It already had a lot of new growth breaking near the crown so I went for it. In the gardens at Joy Creek Nursery where I used to work I was shocked to see the maintenance crews cut one back really hard, I thought it was a goner. Much to my pleasant surprise, it grew back beautifully. I think if it's a healthy plant that needs heavy pruning and the only other option would be removing it all together, pruning first is a good idea. I will keep you posted as to what this one does.

Its flowers, a rare but pretty sight.

Hebe pimeleoides 'Quicksilver' is a low-growing plant with black stems and incredibly silver foliage. It reaches only about 8" tall and spreads, the one pictured was moved from my old garden and is now about 6' across. It is probably about 12 years old and has lived through it all. Hardy to zone 7.

Very pretty at the edge of a bed and appreciating gritty well-drained soil. This one happens to be in high overhead shade and loves it. When they get a little leggy or reach to far into a path a little haircut is fine. When and if they bloom the flowers are a pretty purple color.

Hebe 'Red Edge' has very handsome foliage and a beautiful form. It has weathered every storm since it was planted in 2016. This is an older photograph - the plant is probably 3' x 3' and has a big gaping hole in the middle because a branch broke off from wet, heavy snow that I was trying to clean off. Still, it's an amazingly pretty and resilient hebe.

That foliage! The new growth is one of the best colors.

Hardy to zone 7.

Hebe buxifolia is a pretty dark green hebe with a rounded habit, not unlike a boxwood, hence its name. It was originally planted in another location that it didn't like, so I moved it to an area with more sun. It completely rebounded and has not stopped looking fantastic since. This, along with many other hebes here, would make lovely informal hedges, by the way. Hardy to zone 7.

Hebe cupressoides has the most curious, attractive foliage that resembles a conifer or a forest in miniature. This hebe is a little larger, probably about 3 - 4' tall in my garden and the ones in the garden at Joy Creek Nursery were at least 5' tall. They can, in an extremely heavy snow load, split open but it probably wouldn't kill the plant. Hardy to zone 7.

This has the best texture and it often baffles visitors to my garden - most people have no idea what it is. They have been incredibly resilient, having lost a branch here and there but nothing significant, just a little lower branch die-off in bad winters.

If your garden is too small for such a large hebe, Hebe cupressoides 'Boughton Dome' is a miniature version of the former reaching only a couple of feet tall and wide.

  Hebe salicornioides resembles Hebe 'Karo Golden Esk' in many ways, but is smaller overall and not as bright in color. I forgot I had this one, it is planted next to 'Karo Golden Esk' and kind of blends in. It's about 2' x 2' and is several years old, definitely smaller than 'Karo Golden Esk'.

A fairly new-to-me plant, this is Hebe 'Hinerua', another of the whipcord types. Its charm is in its resiliency, yes, but also its small size at only about 2' x 2'. Even with its lack of age in the garden, it has proven to be very hardy having not been protected at all the past two winters. Hardy to zone 7.

Hebe glaucophylla, an older photograph. This is a small spreader at about 15" tall and spreading to a few feet wide. It is hardy to zone 7. It just hasn't been in my garden that long and has not grown quickly, but its potential is there for a lovely front of the border low-growing hebe. 

Hebe recurva 'Boughton Dome' is a smaller hebe, about 20" tall and wide. Its leaves are recurved and longer than most other hebes in my garden. A light prune after flowering keeps it a bit more compact. 

Its flowers are white and pollinators seem to visit them. Hardy to zone 7.

Bad photograph of a lovely plant, Hebe rupicola. In the gardens of Joy Creek Nursery it was one of my favorites, a good 5' tall and wide and perfectly formed. In my garden this is a little lanky because it was a rescue from Joy Creek but has grown considerably since its introduction to my garden. Dark green foliage, rounded habit, hardy to zone 7.

Another of the low growing hebes, Hebe 'Wingletye' has the best purple flowers that are quite vibrant and fade to pale lavender in time.

It is about 6" tall and a few feet wide with silvery gray leaves and a very flat habit.

It is excellent for rock gardens and slopes. A bit of this one died out because a neighboring arctostaphylos shaded it out, but it's growing towards the direction of the sun and has bounced back beautifully. Hardy to zone 7.

A funny little hebe, this is Hebe vernicosa. It is only about 15" x 15" and truth be told, it had a bit of die- off on its back side that was shaded out. I've since cut that bit out and it rebounded. Great little shrub if you need something evergreen and tiny. Hardy to zone 7.

Hebe odora 'New Zealand Gold' has gold-ish yellow stems and leaf margins. I had three of these along the berm garden but lost one and almost another, but when I pruned it back and provided more sun they regrew vigorously. Hardy to zone 7, they reach a few feet tall and wide. There were two in the gardens at Joy Creek Nursery flanking a path that was surprisingly in a lot of shade and they always did well there. Just goes to show every garden is unique.

It is a great hebe.

Now we are reaching those plants that are alive though suffered damage at one time or another. This is Hebe anomala 'Purpurea Nana', a lovely upright hebe with small foliage and great texture. Very cold hardy, too, but the issue I had is with verticillium wilt. I had three in a row that were substantial at a few feet high and wide each but slowly had branch die off a little at a time as is the way with verticillium. I eventually dug them all out, one had potential so I replanted it. I also took cuttings just in case. The replanted one in a sunnier site is regrowing beautifully. Don't let verticillium wilt discourage you from trying this, it's a fantastic plant.

That color and texture are excellent. 

This is, I believe, Hebe 'Patty's Purple'. It was a throw away from Joy Creek Nursery and it's the closest I can match it to. At any rate, it's a beautiful plant but sadly completely defoliated a few weeks ago. There is hope, there are signs of life at the crown where new leaves are breaking. I cut it back hard and will wait it out to see if it recovers. Note the larger leaf size - that's a general rule for hebes, the larger the leaf size the less cold hardy the plant.

Hebe diosmifolia in happier days. This beautiful plant had dark glossy green leaves and a clean white flower. Even in high overhead shade it was happy.

Until January of this year. This is the first time it suffered, it just couldn't handle the multiple 12 - 15 degree days in a row.

This is it today, severely cut back. If it makes it I will be happy and I do give it a chance for it's breaking at the base and could very well recover. I will keep you posted but for now I'd say it's not the most cold hardy hebe out there. It was about 3' x 3'. Another that received this treatment but I don't have a photograph of is Hebe 'Great Orme', a gorgeous tall plant with pretty pink flowers and large foliage, hardy to zone 8. The large foliage is a clue. They hated the ice and freezing temps, I will keep you posted if they recover. 

Another beauty I lost to cold weather was Hebe parviflora ssp. angustifolia. It has the coolest yellow stems and is large - this is about 5' tall. It was snow a few winters ago that did it in, it just never recovered. I cut it back to the ground and left the root mass in place (it's a habit of mine, no real need to remove it) and to my surprise there is a tiny bit of leaf growing out of it - this is some two years after it died. Never say never, but I really hold out no hope for it ever to regrow. 

Parting shot of - left to right - Hebe buxifolia, H. 'Red Edge' and H. cupressoides.

Evergreen, varying sizes, beauty, ease of care make these shrubs a cornerstone of my garden. I am consistently pleased with their performance and frankly surprised so many have endured rather harsh weather of our now two seasons - baking hot and Arctic tundra. The list of winners might be whittled down year in and year out but I feel really solid about the list I present here. So have hope, you can have fantastic hebes in your garden if hardy species and cultivars are chosen.

Knowing what great plants these are I propagated just about everything on this list save for the final three or four that weren't hardy. I have hundreds of hebes growing in my greenhouse right now and will have them (and LOTS of other goodies) for sale at our pop up plant sale Sunday April 21st, 11 - 3pm, the address is 334 N Baldwin, Portland. There will once again be several of us selling plants, pottery, books and more. Hope you can come by and say howdy!

That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. Thank you so much for reading and commenting, we love hearing from you! Happy gardening!


  1. Oh, Hebes. I so wanted you to like me. But alas, nope. The arctic wind is just too much. I've lost every one in the last two winters. The only one that may be still alive is Sussex Carpet, and I think that's only because it grows so low to the ground and was covered by leaves and other plant debris it was completely out of the wind. The rest are burnt toast. Yours look so great! I'm very happy you found a great group for your garden to enjoy! I will stick with conifers and deciduous things.

    1. Too bad, Gina. That arctic wind! Yes, your climate is much harsher. Smart to stick to conifers and deciduous things, less heartache. xo

  2. My immediate question upon reading your post was: when there are so many Hebes, why don't my local garden centers carry more of them? I have 4 varieties, all apparently hybrids as they're missing species epithets. I lost a few Hebe speciosa 'Variegata' years ago but 'Wiri Blush' (planted in 2013), 'Purple Shamrock', 'Grace Kelly' and my most recent acquisitions, 'Autumn Glory', are thriving (although 'Grace' seems intent on shedding some of its variegation). Of course, cold hardiness isn't really an issue here.

    1. That's a fine question, Kris. I don't know - I mean Joy Creek Nursery where I worked was known for having a lot, which we did, and that's partly because the Oregon State University conducted a field study and invited people in the trade to take cuttings, which we did. Also Xera Plants here in Portland has a lovely selection. Maybe they like too much water for your climate? But it sounds like you have some outstanding cultivars, ones we can't grow here.

  3. Hebes are hard to come by here as well. You have a lovely array of them, they look lovely.

    1. Thank you TZ! Yes, I realize where I live we are blessed with outstanding nurseries. I wish every region were as fortunate as we are.

  4. Anonymous9:37 AM PDT

    Tamara, don't give up on that Hebe parviflora ssp. angustifolia. I had a large, Nandina Plum Passion, that had been in ground for nearly a decade when the snap, hard freeze of 2010 came along and killed it. Or so I thought. 3 years ago, to my surprise, I noticed a growth from where I had left the root ball. It has now returned to nearly the size it was when it was cut down by the cold. I had no idea, a plant could return nearly ten years after its apparent death. So, if the root ball of your hebe isn't in the way and you don't disturb it, you may have it back sooner than you realize! Erik

    1. Oh, good to know, Erik! Thank you for the tip. That's amazing! After 10 years? Wow. Plants are incredible. The root ball is not in the way so I'll leave it no matter what. I'll post an update if anything changes. Thanks again!

  5. Wow, you have a lot of different hebes! No matter what their scientific name, these will always be hebes to me. Some of my favorites. Hebe pinguifolia 'Sutherlandii', H. buxifolia, H. cupressoides, H. ochracea, and H. pimelioides all do well for me. Hebe Red Edge melted this winter though. Nice to see them all at a more mature size in your garden. I will be very interested to see how well your hebe responds to the hard pruning. Hebe Wingletye is a new one for me, love it's low spreading habit. Did you actually get a diagnosis of verticillium on your hebes? I've done quite a bit of pathology work on them and have only ever found charcoal rot (Macrophomina phaseolina) or Fusarium dieback to be a problem. They would both cause the same symptoms that you describe. There is a Digger article on charcoal rot that I wrote back in Nov 2022, but I didn't link to it in case that causes issues with the comment box.

    1. Me too, Jerry...hebes forever! So the verticillium wilt - someone in the nursery trade told me that's what it was - that hebes are susceptible. But I think you are probably spot-on with your possibilities - I'll look up the article, and yes, go ahead and post a link, no issues with comments. Thank you Jerry!

  6. Anonymous7:30 AM PDT

    I started with your previous Hebe survey (from 2021) then moved on to reading this one. I too love Hebe: the hardy ones are so easy and care free. 'Quick Silver' is a favorite, even though it's not looking as full and lovely as yours. I think the trick may be regular light pruning (and more sun).
    Last year I planted H. 'Purpurea Nana' isn't looking as fabulous as I envisioned. The magnificent colors on that one gets it one more season to fulfill its promise before I move on.
    One of the favorites from your garden is Hebe cupressoides! The color and texture is fabulous. I will try to locate the dwarf variety of that beauty.
    How difficult/easy is propagating Hebe?

    1. Hi Chavli, yes, I have found that 'Quicksilver' responds well to a little haircut from time to time if necessary. I wonder about your 'Purpurea Nana' - is it in a lot of shade by chance? Interesting....and the H. cupressoides is definitely a favorite. Propagating is not difficult at all, I took cuttings in I believe October and nearly all took.

  7. My parviflora ssp angust. is a much thinner shrub but still alive and sprouting at the base. I really hate the sight of struggling plants in this small garden but will give this stunner a summer to work things out...or not. Great hebe report, thanks!

    1. I hope your hebe pulls through, it's so pretty when happy. But....it's also ok to yank something that isn't bringing joy. Thanks for your feedback, Denise! Cheers.


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