Common name: Cinquefoil
These modest but reliable plants can provide long lasting summer colour in cottage-style borders and rock gardens. Shades range from pastels through to warm tones and vivid brights.
Potentillas are clump forming plants that carry their flowers in loose, open sprays above silvery green leaves that are often hairy. Singles flowers are open and sauce-shaped but several cultivars are semi-double. Most herbaceous potentillas flower at around 45cm (18in) tall for a long season; some start as early as late spring and go on flowering into early autumn. They are at their peak in summer.
Low growing species, like the apricot-flowered P. tongei, are suited to rock gardens.
Perennial potentillas are happy in nearly all garden soils, provided they drain well. Choose a light position. Some like pink Potentilla x hopwoodiana like a warm sunny spot, but the crimson Potentilla atrosanguinea prefers cooler conditions. These herbaceous perennial plants are hardy. They'll keep flowering for longer if you deadhead them, cutting flowered stems out at the base.
They dislike very wet soil and shady sites. There's no need to feed them as a rich soil can lead to tall, floppy growth. They may suffer during hot, humid weather.
Did you know?
Potentillas are related to strawberry plants. When you look at the pleated leaves and flower shape, you can see why! If plants grow straggly and tall, allow flowering stems to grow through surrounding plants or poke in some twigs to give a bit of support.
The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.