Gaultheria procumbens Growing Guide

Grow Checkerberry Winterberry in your Garden

The Gaultheria procumbens plant is a native of North America woodland. It is a low growing shrub that can reach about 6 inches (15 cm) in height.

It carries bellshaped flowers of white in early summer and has attractive showy and edible red fruits in the winter. Plants prefer acidic woodland soils, such as those found in pinelands. The evergreen leaves are fragrant (the scent is known as oil of wintergreen).


Wintergreen photograph by Jason Hollinger.

The fruits are often referred to as teaberries and are edible. The taste is similar to Mentha mint species such as peppermint and spearmint. The leaves can be infused and used in herbal tea and their essential oils used as flavoring.

Quick Growing and Care Guide

  • Scientific name: Gaultheria procumbens
  • Common Name (s): Checkerberry, Eastern teaberry, Boxberry, American wintergreen
  • Growing Zone (USA / UK Hardiness): 3 to 8 / H5

Plant Details

  • Life Cycle/Type: Evergreen shrub
  • Plant Height: 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 cm)
  • Plant Spread: 6 to 15 inches (15 to 45 cm). Spreads from rhizomes to cover larger areas.
  • Blooms: Summer
  • Flower Details: Bells, White, pinkish. Small. Solitary or on racemes.
  • Leaf Foliage Details: Fragrant. Elliptic to ovate. Evergreen. leathery. Red and purple in autumn.
  • Fruits: Winter. Red, Scarlet. Edible (may cause discomfort in some). 0.4 inches (1 cm) diameter.

Growing Conditions

  • Best Light Conditions: Full and partial shade
  • Suitable Soil Types: Well drained. Organic
  • Suitable Soil pH: Acidic
  • Soil Moisture: Medium
  • Sowing, planting, and Propagation: Sow using fresh seed. Take softwood cuttings. Spreads from rhizomes. Space at about 12 to 15 inches (30 to 40 cm) if using for ground cover.
  • Care: Prune before growth starts again following winter. Remove diseased and damaged shoots and branches, may require using a saw. Thin crowns. Supply with a mulch and feed following pruning.

Further Information

  • Best used in: Shady ground cover. Flower borders, fall and winter color, low maintenance, slopes, containers
  • Miscellaneous : Prefers cool summers. Attracts wildlife, especially birds. Ferment leaves for three days if producing oils. Use leaves to make herbal tea. Traditionally used as a medicinal plant.
  • Family: Ericaceae (heath)
  • Further Reading and References used: RHS; Wikipedia

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Common Garden Species
Index – A

Alchemilla mollis
Aleurites moluccana
Allamanda cathartica
Allium aflatunense
Allium caeruleum
Allium giganteum
Allium Globemaster
Allium moly
Allium schoenoprasum
Alnus glutinosa
Aloe vera
Amaranthus retroflexus
Amaryllis belladonna
Ambrosia artemisiifolia
Amelanchier alnifolia
Amelanchier canadensis
Ammi majus
Anemone blanda
Anemone coronaria
Anemone hupehensis
Anemone sylvestris
Anethum graveolens
Annona reticulata
Anthurium andraeanum
Antirrhinum majus
Aquilegia vulgaris
Aralia elata
Araucaria araucana
Araucaria heterophylla
Arbutus unedo
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
Argyranthemum frutescens
Armeria maritima
Aronia melanocarpa
Artemisia absinthium
Artemisia vulgaris
Arum italicum
Aruncus dioicus
Arundo donax
Asarum europaeum
Asclepias curassavica
Asclepias incarnata
Asclepias syriaca
Asclepias tuberosa
Asimina triloba
Asparagus densiflorus
Aspidistra elatior
Asplenium nidus
Astrantia major
Athyrium filix-femina
Aucuba japonica

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