Parahebe is a genus of some 30 species belonging to the foxglove or Scrophulariaceae family. The genus was given the name Parahebe because it looks similar to hebes, especially the leaves. The leaves of Parahebes are on pliable wiry stems and are small, dark green and elliptical, often with toothed edges. The flowers are usually white, pink or mauve with contrasting veining. Flowers appear in late spring and summer and multiple flushes of blooms are possible. Most parahebes are subshrubs (somewhere between a shrub and herbaceous perennial) and are evergreen or semi–evergreen in the Pacific Northwest. Thus, they can be added to your spring, summer, fall or winter garden.
Parahebes are largely native to New Zealand with a few species found in Australia and New Guinea. Because parahebes are lax by nature, they are ideal for rock gardens, rock walls, front of borders, among dwarf shrubs or in mixed pots for sun or part shade. Their cheery and unusual foliage and flowers are fun additions to any nook of the garden. Parahebes also take well to pruning when they start to look tired or just after blooming.
Parahebe olsenii grows to 2 inches high and 36 inches wide. This variety is evergreen with hardiness to Zone 7. Leaves are ¼ inch in size and are held densely on low growing mats. White flowers with a center of raspberry pink appear in clouds above the foliage from June through August. This is a true alpine plant requiring rich, fast draining soil with regular summer irrigation. Perfect for rock gardens and pathways.
Parahebe cattaractae ‘Delight’
This variety of evergreen parahebe has blue flowers with a magenta center and is shrubby in stature. The ‘Delight’ grows to 16 inches high by 24 inches wide and is hardy to Zone 8. Bloom time is nonstop from June until frost. Leaves are finely serrated and shiny on mahogany stems. This variety prefers well-drained soil with regular water in summer. (Photo credit to Kurt Steuber
Parahebe cattaractae ‘Miss Wilmott’
Parahebe cattaractae ‘Miss Wilmott’ has large sprays of white flowers with a central spot of violet. The flowers are produced profusely from June until frost. A light and airy evergreen plant to 8" tall and spreading to 18" wide, ‘Miss Wilmott prefers full sun to light shade and well drained soil. Give regular water in summer. Cut back hard in early spring. Works well on slopes. Hardy to Zone 7.
Each glaucous blue leaf on Parahebe perfoliata encircles the stem in an imitation of a miniature eucalyptus. Growing from a dense central core, stems reach up to three feet tall. In mid-summer spikes of violet blue flowers appear at the tips. This plant is upright in full sun and trailing in part shade and is an excellent choice for the front of a garden border.
Parahebe perfoliata appreciates well–drained soil with regular water and can be cut back hard in early spring to refresh it. This variety is hardy to Zone 7 and semi–evergreen in hard winters, but otherwise evergreen. Considered a Great Plant Pick for the Pacific Northwest.
Origin: Australia and New Zealand
Culture: Light, well-drained moist soil in a sheltered and warm location. Parahebes can tolerate part shade.
Maintenance: Parahebes are semi-evergreen or evergreen. Leave old growth on during winter to protect the crown but cut back stems hard in early spring.
Also, cutting back flowers after the first bloom encourages a new flush of blooms.
Pests and Diseases: Parahebe are susceptible to slugs and mildew.