Cinquefoil (Potentilla)

Cinquefoil (Potentilla) - Garden Basics - Flower - Perennial

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Bush cinquefoils are 2- to 4-foot shrubs grown for their attractive five-petaled flowers. The 1-inch flowers usually come in shades of yellow and orange (P. fruticosa) or yellow, pink and red (clumping hybrids.) Plants flower over a longer season than most shrubs, producing a mass displays in early summer, then continue to produce flowers in lesser numbers until fall. P. fruticosa is preferred for mixed shrub borders or low growing hedges while the clump-forming hybrids such as 'Gibson's Scarlet' are best for perennial borders and rock gardens. They look best when several plants are set in a group.

The name "cinquefoil" means "five leaves," though the number of leaves on a stem varies from three to seven. The leaves are about an inch in length and densely set on the branches.

Bush cinquefoils grow in Zones 2-9 except in Florida and along the Gulf Coast. Choose a location in full sun. Plants will thrive in almost any soil as long as it is well-drained.

Cinquefoil can be started from seeds sown in containers in a cold frame in fall or spring. Greenwood cuttings can be taken in late spring or early summer, and mature plants can be divided in fall or spring.

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