How to Grow Potentilla Plants

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Cinquefoil

Potentilla plants usually grow as hardy perennial sub-shrubs, They range in height from 8 to 120 cm (3 to 48 inches).

The time they come into bloom is dependent upon the Potentilla species. This may be anytime from the middle of spring through to the autumn. Plants are usually long blooming.

Potentilla by ndrwfgg.

They carry circular flowers of white, yellow or red atop wiry stems.

Their size makes smaller Potentilla species an ideal plant to grow in rock gardens. Larger species can look good as a low growing hedge, or in a border.

A common name for Potentilla is Cinquefoil.

Commonly Grown Potentilla Species

Potentilla indica

Potentilla indica
Potentilla indica (Mock strawberry /Indian strawberry), photograph by Andreas Rockstein; CC.

Potentilla fruticosa

Potentilla fruticosa
Potentilla fruticosa (Shrubby Cinquefoil), picture by Cranbrook Science; CC.

Potentilla Growing Guide and Facts

Common Names: Cinquefoil, Ruby / Shrubby cinquefoil, Tormentils, Barren strawberries
Life Cycle: Annual, biennial, perennial
Height: 3 to 48 inches (8 to 120 cm).
Growing Region: Zones 3 to 7.
Family: Rosaceae.

Bloom time: Species dependent - Mid-spring to autumn. Long Bloom time. Shrubby cinquefoil in the Summer
Flower Details: Strawberry-like. Yellow.
Foliage: Herbaceous. Sub-shrub. five leaves.

Sow Outside: Cover seeds. Spacing 3 to 10 inches (8 to 20 cm).
Sow Inside: Eight weeks in advance. Transplant start of autumn or before the last frost

Requirements Full sunlight to part shade. Average Soil, pH pH 5 to 7. Moderate watering. Grows vigourosly, may need to be controlled.
Other: Low maintenance plant. Attracts butterflies. Tolerant to deer and drought. Helps prevent soil erosion.

How to Grow Cinquefoil and other Potentilla plants in the Garden

The seeds of Potentilla plant species such as Cinquefoil can be sowed in either early autumn or early spring.

They should be sown from 20 to 45 cm (8 to 18 inches) apart (depending upon Potentilla species size), and the seeds lightly covered.

Cinquefoil likes to grow in a sandy soil that is slightly acidic to neutral (pH 5 to 7).

Ideally they should grow in a sunny part of the garden, but prefer partial shade in the afternoon.

If starting indoors, then do so about two months in advance. The Cinquefoil seeds take from two to four weeks to germinate. Young Potentilla seedlings should be transplanted into the garden either at the start of autumn or before the last frost of spring.

Caring for Cinquefoil - Potentilla

Cinquefoil and other Potentilla plants are easy to grow and look after. The flowering stems should be cut back in the autumn, and a light topdressing of organic matters every spring will do wonders.

If you require more Potentilla plants then they can be propagated by taking cuttings in autumn, or by division in the spring.

Common Questions

How many members does the Potentilla genus contain?

The Potentilla plant genus is large, with between 300 to 500 species (classification arguments).

Do Potentilla members make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, many Potentilla species make excellent garden plants due to their bright, cheerful flowers and their ability to tolerate a range of conditions.

Which Potentilla species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Potentilla fruticosa (Shrubby Cinquefoil) is popular in landscaping for its vibrant, long-blooming flowers and resilience.

Are Potentilla plants fragrant?

Most Potentilla species do not have a strong fragrance, but they are primarily grown for their attractive flowers and foliage.

What is the perfect location to grow Potentilla?

Potentilla is very adaptable, growing well in full sun to partial shade, and in a variety of soil types, provided the soil is well-drained.

Is Potentilla invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Currently, Potentilla species are not generally considered invasive in the USA, although some may spread in suitable conditions.

How do I remove Potentilla plants from my garden?

To remove Potentilla, dig up the entire plant, ensuring to remove the root system to prevent it from resprouting.


The Potentilla genus, whose plants are often called Cinquefoils, belongs to the Rosaceae family. It comprises herbaceous perennials and deciduous shrubs recognized for their five-petaled flowers and palmate leaves.

Potentilla plants enjoy full sun or partial shade and tolerate a wide range of soil conditions. Plant them in the spring or fall for the best results. Their long-lasting, vibrant flowers make them great for borders, rock gardens, or ground covers.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Potentilla plants. You may also enjoyt the following Gardeners'HQ Rosaceae guides: How to Grow Spiraea, Rosa multiflora, Alchemilla alpina, and Geum plants.