Magazine article Landscape & Irrigation

Potentilla Fruticosa -- Bush Cinquefoil. (Plant Palette)

Magazine article Landscape & Irrigation

Potentilla Fruticosa -- Bush Cinquefoil. (Plant Palette)

Article excerpt

Bush cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa) is a tough, serviceable little shrub, short on glamour but long on usefulness. (I've been wracking my brain for a snappy anecdote with which to introduce it, since I hate starting off a plant article by actually talking about the plant, but none have presented themselves.)

First of all, it's colorful. Most of its many cultivars are yellow in flower. 'Goldfinger,' shown here, is one of the brightest of the yellows, and my favorite among them. There are also several good white-flowered forms ('Abbotswood' in particular), and various less convincing oranges, reds and pinks, none of whose colors are as reliable in our summer heat as are the yellows. They evidently prefer the cooler temperatures in Britain and in Europe, where most of them originated. Flowering commences in June, and plants bloom copiously through the summer, until hard frost. The flowers are nicely framed by the fine-textured foliage, which varies from pale to deep green, depending on the cultivar. The species adapts well to poor soil, and likes an average-to-dry, full-sun location.

Another useful attribute is the plant's diminutive size. Even the tallest generally-available cultivar, 'Jackmannii,' doesn't exceed three feet in height, and the lower-growing forms top out at two feet or less. This makes them easy to fit into any landscape. The species name describes the nature of the stems: "fruticose" is a botanical term, meaning shrubby or woody.

Pruning maintenance consists of selectively removing older stems, and the whole plant can be rejuvenated periodically by cutting it to the ground. …

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