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Hi i needsome advice on a very large messy hebe....I moved to the house am in now and there are some lovely shrubs etc planted one being a hebe dark green leaves purple flowers...well its completely gone wild i dont know when or if its been pruned ever and its lovely until about 2 foot up when its just stalk then on top of stalk about 4-5 foot up there are some more lovely leaves/flowers so i have about 2 foot of scraggly mess...What i am after is some advice what to do...Can i cut it back hard to reshape etc as all the main branches are tangled and crossing too or should i just cut the stalky bits taking it back to about 2 foot let it try again or just leave?Also when should i do this as ive been told not to touch it as its flowering but it looks awfull!!Thanks


I have a very overgrown small leaf Hebe in my front garden that I forgot to prune for ten years. Some idiot threw a lump of concrete into its centre a few weeks back, breaking all the branches and leaving it less than rotund in shape.

So, I took the opportunity to prune it hard back, taking three layered plants from its base (where the branches touch the ground and root themselves)  in case my plan failed. I cut back half the branches quite radically and left the other half intact to see if it would flower and also to reduce stress for the plant.

Since then, it has successfully broken bud on the hard pruned branches and I shall be pruning the rest after flowering, which is the usual time to prune small leaved Hebes into shape.

Cut it back now if you don't mind losing the flowers, otherwise imediately after flowering is also a good time. Hebes can be slightly tender, so you want to give the plant plenty of good weather to make new leaf. They often suffer frost damage in late winter that can be cut out in late spring, but they are tough plants really and you shouldn't lose it.

A feed might be gratefully received if you are going to butcher it, just try not to rob it completely of leaf. If it needs a severe pruning, think of it as a two year job and do half this year and half next.


If you want to chop it while it's flowering then do so. Apparently hebes are not happy with drastic chopping. I have a very similar one to yours which was very bare apart from about the top third. I cut it back to about 2 ft or so thinking, 'Just survive or die'. It survived and took a long time to come back but it did in the end. In your situation I think I'd cut just below the scraggy bits and see what happens next year.

Thanks you have both confirmed what i want to do thanks i am going to cut to about 2 foot where its lovely and bushy,then after its flowered see how it goes then maybe cut right back later on thanks


One more about the dead branches there are loads that arnt doing anything they have no leaf etc would it be ok to cut these right down?


Alina W

Yes, cut them right out.

Thanks....taken dead wood out looks better already


Yours sounds like one that I've got. To be on the safe side , push some of the bits you cut off into some pots. I've done this when I've knocked a bit off with the mower by carelessness, and they always take. Very easy to propagate, so after a few years you could replace the old one with a new plant.

i have various hebe's flowering at different times of the year, and most of them are straggly, never sure how hard to cut them back or when, so, i've not done anything, is it too late in the year to chop them back now? or should i leave it till Spring?

If cutting back Hebe now only cut back half and take cuttings to be safe they root easily,The other half cut back next year when the half you cut this year has re grown.  I knocked a big lump off one this year when I fell over a brick! it has refurnished itself and you would never know that half has gone! (I think I suffered the most)  Overwinter the cuttings under cover or start on the window ledge and put out in spring.  Does anyone know of a reasonable priced web nursery that sells the Autumn Flowering Cherry? my local nursery is asking £29 which I feel is a bit on the pricey side, after all a plum tree that fruits does not cost half that!

Beagle mom. No dont cut hebe back now. Hebes do respond sometimes to hard pruning but they are best pruned every year. For me I prune in spring for flowers in late summer despite the advice generally you prune after floweriing. This is to avoid new growth being cut back in winter.

Don't know if I'm too late commenting on this.  I live in a flat and have 2 hebes on my balcony.  It looks like they've been sun damaged underneath... The top leaves are still green but the underneath looks just like dried brown wood and the leaves are all brown and dry... Is there a way to bring them back to life?  I may have forgotten to water them a few times but am watering them again now... Hope someone can help!


I am no gardener, I inherited my Hebe last autumn along with a lot of my late mums shrubs. It was never potted on, it was never ever fed and only got watered when it rained. It was left in a shaded corner for years....I can remember using it for a goal post back in about 1970 so its well over 40 years old now. When I got it home I it was very leggy, and tatty. I had not a clue what I was doing so I just pruned everything off....put it in a better pot with some compost and left it outside over the winter. Now it has grown back, there are loads of branches and its lush with foliage. The purple flowers are just about to break open.

I bought a purple flowered hebe at the end of last summer. It still had flowers on at the time. It had nothing to identify the type. This year it has grown lots but no sign of any flowers.  It is in clay soil and part shade.

Any ideas why there are no flowers?

Two things spring to mind. Dokane

First, hebes really do like sun.  However, as lomg as you get at least 4 hours of sunlight...?

Secondly, clay soil?   Not ideal..  Hebes like free draining soil

You can take cuttings now.  Then you can grow a new hebe in a sunnier spot

Some hebes flower late inn the summer ...e.g. Autumn you may have one of those but all mine have flowered already 



I have about 12 different ones in my garden and I'm on clay soil. They all do very well even the one in the bed that gets flooded after heavy rain, although that one must be 20 years old, so it's got used to it. The only one that hasn't flowered yet is Black Knight, but that's only been in 2 years and grown from a cutting, so no very big. I'm keeping my fingers crossed though as it's a late flowering one. So I suggest anyone with clay soils put some grit in the hole when planting. But I love this family of shrubs. Something for any place, Some grow tall , some short, spreading or upright , even some suitable for rockeries. With flowers that go on and on, what more could you ask for?

Thanks Verdun. It looks like it is an Autumn Glory so I havent given up hope on some flowers. 

Will take your advice re taking cuttings also.

I have just pruned my he be it is one of the larger variety.
I'm worried because I have pruned it in June. Please help
will it be ok. I love gardening but not sure when to prune.
Has anyone got any tips?

As a general rule, prune after flowering unless there is risk of frost. If you're really not sure then don't prune at all and the worst that could happen is a larger plant than you want 


My best tip is to buy the RHS book on pruning - no more mistakes!