Summer Dawn CinquefoilPotentilla fruticosa ‘Summer Dawn’ (PP# 20,302)
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Potentilla fruticosa ‘Summer Dawn’ (PP# 20,302)
Outdoor Growing zone
The Summer Dawn Cinquefoil is an almost perfect shrub – attractive, long-blooming and very easy to grow. This rounded shrub reaches 3 feet tall and wide, and it’s smothered in 2-inch blooms from May through September. It thrives in cold winters, and in hot, dry summers, needing virtually no care at all. Grow it in sunny shrub beds or on slopes. Plant it as an edging along a path or driveway. Grow it in a rock-garden or among boulders and gravel. It also thrives in planters and tubs.
Full sun will make your Summer Dawn Cinquefoil bloom prolifically, for the longest time. It grows easily and quickly in all well-drained soils, from sandy gravels to urban clays. It is unaffected by pests, diseases, deer, salt-spray or traffic pollution, and thrives almost anywhere. It can be trimmed as needed, and removing some of the oldest branches on old plants will rejuvenate it. A super low-maintenance plant for easy gardening full of color.
If you are looking for shrubs that are tough enough to handle the worst weather, it would make sense to look for them in places that have terrible weather, right? So it makes sense to go to the remote Orkney Islands, specks of land in the seas north of Scotland, closer to the Arctic Circle than they are to London, England. Bleak weather, cold summers and colder winters – it all adds up to an environment that only tough plants could survive. Well, that is the home of the Summer Dawn Cinquefoil, a tough, reliable shrub that carries a profusion of large flowers from late spring into fall. The large blooms are a beautiful light yellow, toning darker gold towards the center and up to 2 inches across, they smother the plant for month after month, turning this amazing plant into a floral highlight of the sunny places in your garden.
The Summer Dawn Cinquefoil is a bushy deciduous shrub that grows between 2 and 3 feet tall and wide, making a rounded mound of branches right to the ground. It has an attractive, natural look, with slender stems that are pale reddish-brown. On older stems the bark peels off in narrow strips in a handsome, rugged way.
The small leaves are evenly spaced along new stems, and in clusters along older stems. Each leaf is divided into 3 or 5 slender oval leaflets, each about ¾ of an inch long, making a leaf around an inch long and wide. They are deep green, but covered with fine white hairs, giving an attractive silvery tone to the plant. Leaves stay green well into the fall, simply dying without turning color. Because they are small you don’t even have leaves to rake or clean up.
The flowering season starts with a big display in May or early June, smothering the bush in blooms. The flowers are exceptionally large for this plant – between 1 and 2 inches across – consisting of 5 broad, rounded petals forming an open bowl. In the center is a golden cluster of stamen, and the flowers look like small wild roses. The petals are pale lemon yellow, shading to darker golden-yellow in the center of the bloom. This is one of the most attractive and bright cinquefoil bushes available, and makes a wonderful display. Blooming continues all through summer and well into fall, often right up to the last frost. Plants in full sun, that don’t become too dry over summer, give the most continuous display, but even plants in difficult conditions continue to bloom well. The small dry seed pods that develop are not significant.
This shrub is perfect for low-maintenance, high-color gardening, with an amazingly long season of bloom. Plant it in your sunny shrub beds, or as an edging along a bed, path or driveway. Cover a tough slope with it, or plant it among rocks or the levels of retaining walls. Space plants 18 inches apart for continuous edging or mass planting. It also makes a great plant for containers and tubs, in zones 5, 6 and 7.
The Summer Dawn Cinquefoil grows well in colder zones, all the way through zone 3, and possibly in warmer parts of zone 2 as well. It grows best with dry summers and cold winters, all the way into zone 7.
In full sun is the best location for your Summer Dawn Cinquefoil plants, as shade weakens it, and reduces flowering. In hot zones it will take an hour or two of afternoon shade with no problem. It grows well in any and all well-drained soils, from rocky gravel soils to heavy clays and urban soils, but not in wet ground. It is salt-tolerant, and will grow at your beach cottage too. Better soils, with regular summer watering, will of course give the most rapid growth and maximum flowering, but don’t worry, this tough plant looks great and grows fine just about anywhere.
You don’t have to worry about pests, diseases or even deer bothering your Summer Dawn Cinquefoil – they won’t. A handful of shrub fertilizer in early spring, and regular feeding with liquid fertilizers for plants in pots will give the best results, but we place this plant firmly in the ‘very low maintenance’ category. Older plants can be rejuvenated by removing some of the oldest, thickest branches low down, in early spring, or early summer.
You will find the shrubby cinquefoil, Potentilla fruticosa, growing wild across a huge part of the northern hemisphere, from North America through China and Russia and all across Europe. It grows wild in Scotland, but it hasn’t been recorded as a wild plant on the Orkney Islands. These rugged, almost treeless islands are off the north coast of Scotland, and they have a severe climate, with icy wet winters, strong gales, salt spray and cool summers.
Alan Bremner is a farmer and keen gardener who lives in Kirkwall, Orkney. He became interested in creating better plants, and started in the 1970s with cinquefoils. He chose them because they already survived on Orkney – could he produce tough plants in new colors? Beginning in 1976, he grew many seedlings over several years, picking the best and planting similar colors together so they could cross-pollinate. By 1985 he had some very beautiful and very rugged plants, and he chose one with lemon yellow flowers, which he named Summer Dawn. It was patented in the US in 2009, after being selected by HG Television for inclusion in its HGTV™ garden plant range. They gave it the trademarked name of Lemon Sweetie™, but that name is not widely used, and mostly this plant is known as ‘Summer Dawn’ Cinquefoil.
The large blooms and wonderful bright coloring of the Summer Dawn Cinquefoil make it a great pick for low-maintenance gardening. You simply won’t believe how much color these plants deliver for so little effort from you. Order now, because everyone loves an easy-care plant, so our stock will run out very fast.