Hebe odora 'New Zealand Gold'
syn. H. anomala, H. buxifolia
Pronounced: HEE-bee oh-DOR-uh
Sunset zones: 4-6, 14-17. My best estimate as it's not listed as being hardy in Sunset zones 4, 5 and 6.
USDA zones: 8-10.
Heat zones: 10-8.
Height: 3-5 feet (1-1.5 m).
Width: 5 feet (1.5 m).
Late spring to early summer.
Racemes of pure white flowers with purple anthers and white pollen.
Box-like, glossy green leaves with yellow margins.
Well-drained, neutral to slightly alkaline soil.
Side dress with compost and a complete organic fertilizer in spring.
Take semi-ripe cuttings in summer.
Little to no pruning necessary; however, if plant becomes ragged looking, cut back hard to rejuvenate foliage.
Pests and Diseases:
Aphids, leaf spot, root rot and powdery mildew may be problems.
Rainy Side Notes
Named after the goddess of youth Hebe, the genus was once grouped in with the veronica plants. Just look at a Hebe's flower and you can see the resemblance to Veronica blossoms, a close relative. Its epithet, odora, is all about the fragrance.
Hebes are very adaptable to our mild, cool summers. My own 'New Zealand Gold', planted in 1998, has proven very hardy in my Sunset zone 5 garden. Rated down to USDA zone 7, the plant should be hardy enough for colder Sunset zone 4 gardens. A few gardeners living in that zone report this to be true.
I bought this at a Farmer's Market; it proved to be one of the best ones to grow in my garden. I love the pure white flowers. On closer inspection, you notice two tiny purple anthers. The foliage is outstanding all year round and provides an evergreen element for my garden in winter. The newer stems are yellow and the green leaves have the same yellow on their margins.
Some years the shrub sprinkles a small amount of flowers around its mounding body (see photo above.) I suspect the reason for less flowers is weather related, although I haven't yet found any resource that confirms my suspicions. Some sources say it doesn't flower that often; however, some years mine is so smothered in flowers, you can't see the foliage (see photo below.)
This year the shrub is in need of some major pruning and will be cut back hard when it finishes flowering. The leaves will sprout quickly enough to bring it back to its grand shape in little time. The plant takes well to pruning for hedges and topiaries, but I prefer its natural round shape.
As with any Hebe, give it perfect drainage and shelter from cold, drying winds.
This Hebe form was collected by Kenneth Becket from Arthur's Pass National Park in Canterbury, South Island, New Zealand. It was chosen as a Great Plant Pick for the Pacific Northwest.
Photographed in author's garden.