The Hebe “Emerald Gem” stands out because of its rounded, compact habit and its striking foliage. (Great Plant Picks photo)

Great Plant Pick: Hebe ‘Emerald Gem’

Hebe “Emerald Gem” caught the eye of Great Plant Pick judges over the course of a three-year hebe evaluation at North Willamette Research and Extension Center, Oregon. It stood out because of its rounded, compact habit and its striking foliage.

Individual leaves are bright green with a yellowish cast, they are small and scale-like and pressed against the twigs of this shrub, creating a look much like a conifer. Emerald Gem’s mounding form and clean, tidy habit make it a good choice for a rock gardens or an interesting specimen plant. Mix it with smaller plants because it dislikes competition.

In youth, Hebe “Emerald Gem” has a formal look, but it will soften in a few years to a mounding slightly loose shrub whose delicate stems blow and drift in the breeze. It combines well with Mediterranean plants and dwarf conifers. It rarely flowers, but when it does, the blooms look like small white puffs scattered on the tips of its branches.

It requires little pruning to maintain its compact shape. Hebes are not long-lived plants but should remain attractive in the garden for 10 to 15 years. Replace older plants once they begin to deteriorate.

Size: 3 feet high by 5 feet wide

Where: Plant this cold hardy hebe in well-drained or sandy soil with full sun.

Water requirements: Once established, it needs only occasional watering during dry weather.

— Richie Steffen, Great Plant Picks

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