Doug Wilson
Potentilla fruticosa

Quick facts and care essentials

Sunset  – September 14, 2004

Cinquefoil Quick Facts:

  • Semievergreen
  • Zones 1-21, 32 (cooler parts), 34-45
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Moderate watering

Its manageable size, long bloom season, and adaptability to many climates make cinquefoil one of the more popular deciduous shrubs. From summer to fall, branches are covered with 1-inch single flowers in white, yellow, or dark reddish orange. You’ll find a dozen or more named cultivars with various blossom colors and heights of 1, 2, 3, or 4 feet; spread is slightly less than height in each case. Narrowly oval, green to gray-green leaves that reach less than an inch long clothe the random-growing, somewhat stiff branches.

Growth rate varies by cultivar; initial growth is often rapid, tapering off to a more moderate pace.

Cinquefoil grows best in well-drained soil. It prefers sun but needs some afternoon shade in the warmest regions. Prune each year after bloom to remove crossing, damaged, and older branches. To keep plants compact, you can cut them to the ground every few years as dormancy is ending in late winter.