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Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Plant care, Leycesteria

I am trying to find the proper soil pH for growing Leycesteria 'Red Shuttle'. I am hoping to plant it in partial shade next to rhododendrons (acidic soil). How will it do?


Leycesteria 'Red Shuttle' is the formosa species and should do well in any fertile soil, provided it is not highly alkaline (according to The Plant Care Manual by Stefan Buczacki (Crown Publishers, 1993).

Plants That Merit Attention, Vol. 2, Shrubs , (by the Garden Club of America, 1984, p. 172) states:

Needs sun for best bract and fruit color; prefers rich, moist loam; tolerates wind, drought, and air pollution...A handsome woodland shrub best in natural setting or shrub border. Needs sun for best flower and fruit color. May be pruned in spring. Partial dieback in winter not unusual; shrub rejuvenates the following growing season, often growing back successfully from roots....

Trees and Shrubs for Pacific Northwest Gardens (by J. Grant, 1990, p. 239) states:

...This shrub is easily grown in any good garden soil in full sun but prefers a rich, moist loam. It may achieve a height of as much as 15 ft. in a sheltered position. The rootstock is perfectly hardy, but the top is occasionally cut to the ground in exceptionally severe winters. If pruned almost to the ground every year, which is one method of treatment, it will send up lusty 6-ft. shoots and flower freely during the latter part of the summer....

Date 2017-12-08
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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Failure to flower, Stachys, Pruning shrubs, Leycesteria

I have a question about cutting back plants. I have some non-flowering lamb's ear that is looking quite scraggly. How far back do I cut these, and when?

Also, how far back should I cut my Himalayan honeysuckle? We planted it 2 years ago, and last summer it got 5 feet high!

Also, last year my Hebe plants did not flower. We have Hebe anomala purpurea 'Nana'. I have recently checked the tags they came with, and it doesn't mention that it flowers. Is this a non-flowering Hebe? Although the shrubs are lovely, I was hoping for the type that flowers. If we decide to move them, when would be the best time to transplant them?


Yes, Stachys (lamb's ears) can look pretty ragged after winter. I'm guessing you are growing Stachys byzantina 'Silver Carpet' or a similar cultivar, which doesn't flower. If you look closely, you should see signs of new growth. I would suggest cutting back all the tattered or dried leaves as far as you are able, without injuring new growth. March is a good time to divide the plant if you like. (I have shared this plant many times and moved clumps to new locations. It is quite tough, and will transplant easily.)

Himalayan honeysuckle, Leycesteria formosa, can be cut back to the ground (or within a few inches of the ground) in late winter or early spring,according to Sunset Western Garden Book. The website of Rainyside Gardeners (a Northwest site) has a useful page on Leycesteria formosa.

According to Hebes: A Guide to Species, Hybrids, and Allied Genera by Lawrie Metcalf (Timber Press, 2006), Hebe anomala 'Purpurea' is a synonym for Hebe odora 'Purpurea' which is supposed to have a lot of flowers. He doesn't mention the dwarf variety, 'Nana,' but I assume it would have similar attributes. Even with the nomenclature confusion, there seems to be some consensus about the floriferous qualities of the plant: Douglas Chalk's Hebes & Parahebes (Christopher Helm, 1988) lists Hebe 'Anomala' as a cultivar of Hebe odora, and he too says it has lots of flowers. Are your Hebes getting enough sun? Some Hebes will flower in partly shady sites, but the flowering will be diminished. Could they have been pruned accidentally, just before flowering? Another possibility is that the plants are not mature enough to flower. The Metcalf book mentions a few species which can take years to produce flowers. He also says that flowers are enhanced by chilling followed by warmth, over a period of about 12 weeks. The number of hours of daylight to which the plants are exposed is also a factor. As far as transplanting, doing it in March should be fine. It isn't too hot, and we are likely to have the occasional rain,but you should still water well when you first move them.

Date 2017-05-26
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August 01 2017 12:36:01