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How to Care For Potentilla Fruticosa (Shrubby Cinquefoil)

Last Updated on October 26, 2022 by Plant Mom Care

Cinquefoil or Potentilla consists of around 500 species – most of which are herbaceous perennials but a few species are creeping or erect shrubs, with a small number of annuals or biennials. 

They are popular landscape shrubs and are appreciated for their extended flowering season, outstanding hardiness, and low maintenance. A few varieties are considered to be invasive in some parts of the world.

Their sizes vary from 3 – 48 inches in height, and 6 inches to 60 inches in width. They produce an abundance of 5-petaled blooms of orange, white, yellow, or pink during their flowering season from June – September. The leaves are compound pinnate with narrow, elongated leaflets of blue-green or dark green.

how to care for cinquefoil

These plants can tolerate a variety of growing conditions including air pollution, drought, and salty air, making them suitable to grow in urban settings and beachfront localities but despite their reliability and toughness, they are not suited for southern areas with sweltering temperatures.

They are versatile to be utilized as hedging, in mixed borders, rock gardens, and containers. They are also useful for fire escapes and controlling erosion. The flowers function as a source of food for pollinators.


Shrubby Cinquefoil Light Requirements

These plants will produce more vigorous flowers with 6 hours of exposure to full sun. They can also be planted under partial shade in places with hot summers as potted plants, they love growing near bright, sunny south-facing windows to thrive. They will grow as well or produce many flowers in low light.


Shrubby Cinquefoil Watering

Young plants should be watered regularly in their first year to promote good root development. Once they are established properly, normal rainfall will be more than sufficient to fulfill their watering needs. Water them 1 – 2 times a week in hot summers, heat waves, or extended dry spells.

Potted plants have to be watered when the topsoil is dry and water every 2 or 3 days in summer. In autumn and spring, once a week will be enough. Reduce watering to once every 2 weeks in winter.


Shrubby Cinquefoil Humidity

They will thrive under low to moderate humidity levels between 20 – 40%. These plants have tremendous winter hardiness and grow best in the cool summers of northern climates. 

Is cinquefoil a perennial

They will not do well in the southeastern areas of the U.S. south of Zone 7 and will struggle to deal with the high summer humidity and heat. Mildew, fungal leaf spots, and spider mites will frequently bother the plants in these conditions. 


Shrubby Cinquefoil Temperature

These plants are extremely cold and hardy and can deal perfectly well with low temperatures of almost -23°F. They prefer growing in temperatures between 55 – 65°F.


Shrubby Cinquefoil Soil

These plants can adapt to many different soil types such as alkaline, dry, rocky, or poor soils, including clay, just as long as the soil drains well. They grow best in reasonably fertile soil with a pH of 5 – 7. Use a mix of one part coco peat, one part potting soil, and one part sand for potted plants to provide good drainage and aeration.


Shrubby Cinquefoil Repotting

A large pot with at least a diameter of 10 inches and plenty of drainage holes will let the plant grow for 2 or 3 years without needing to be repotted. Repot the plant only when the plant doubles in size or if roots appear outside the drainage holes – whichever comes first.

First, prepare a slightly larger pot and fill it halfway with suitable soil. Lift the plant out and remove excess soil from the roots. Place the plant in the fresh pot and fill in the empty spaces around the roots. 

Press the soil down – this will remove air pockets, and water the plant thoroughly until excess water drains out. Place it back in its previous growing spot and water it as usual.


Shrubby Cinquefoil Propagation

This plant is simple to propagate by cuttings and division. Collect 4-inch long tips of growing stems in August and stick them inside a pot packed with a mix of sand and coco peat. 

Propagation using hardwood cuttings from November to February is also relatively easy. It is better to propagate cuttings frequently, as many varieties can be short-lived annuals and might die off rather soon.

Divide perennial plant crowns every 3 years to rejuvenate as well as propagate them. Some creeping species are grown for ground cover – often suckers take root near the plant. Dig them up and propagate them. 

Additional Care

While it’s not necessary to feed these plants, flowering can be boosted using diluted balanced fertilizer twice monthly, from April to September. This will also ensure excellent foliar growth. Alternatively, remove a layer of topsoil in spring and replace it with compost to add sufficient nutrients. 

Prune the plant in winter to maintain a rounded shape. Pruning is also necessary to stop the plant from getting invasive, forcing out other plants growing nearby.

Overall though, this low-maintenance plant is drought-tolerant when it is established, making it a good plant to cultivate for gardeners who don’t have much to spare.

Shrubby Cinquefoil Common Problems

When grown under ideal conditions, this plant is impervious to almost all pests or diseases. 

However, growing conditions such as insufficient light, high humidity, and insufficient air circulation, can bring fungal diseases like rust, powdery mildew, downy mildew, or leaf spot. 

Overwatering and poor drainage can bring about root rot. Possible insect problems include aphid or spider mite infestations.

This plant can develop root rot if it is overwatered. If this is the case, remove the affected parts and replant them in fresh soil. 

While it is drought-tolerant, under-watering can make the foliage droop and curl. 

Avoid these problems related to moisture by following the recommended watering schedule as mentioned above. 

The flowers might fade in predominantly hot sunny conditions. In addition, insufficient light might result in a shabby-looking plant. Prevent these problems by making sure the plant grows in a location that gets a minimum of 4 hours of direct sun every day. Remember, watering has to be increased in hot summers.

If thrips attack the plant, spray water to remove them. Spray the whole plant with neem oil or insecticidal soap to eliminate the pests, repeating the treatment after 2 weeks. 

If you notice spider mites infesting the plant, spray the entire with neem oil or insecticidal soap to eliminate the pests, repeating the treatment after 2 weeks.

Where does cinquefoil grow?

These plants can grow in most temperate and cold areas of the world. Some varieties are troublesome and have been classified as invasive weeds in several places. The types grown in gardens can also be potentially invasive if not maintained and pruned back.

What does cinquefoil smell like?

The flowers have no noticeable fragrance.

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