The finger bush owes its name to the shape of its leaves. These are pinnate 5-fold, in a few species also 3-7-fold, whereby the undersides of the leaves are abundantly hairy. This woody plant blooms abundantly and permanently, depending on the species, from May to October. The flower colors range from white to yellow and orange to red. In our latitudes, the yellow-flowering finger shrub can be found above all. It comes into its own in groups but also individually, as a ground cover, in mixed perennial beds, between smaller trees or as a low hedge planting and is also suitable for smaller gardens due to its rather small size. It does particularly well in farm and Mediterranean gardens, but also in rock gardens.
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Bare-rooted plants can be planted from late October to late April, provided the soil is frost-free. In contrast, potted and container plants can be planted all year round. Before planting, it is advisable to water the finger bush thoroughly, for example in a bucket of water. This applies to both potted and container plants.
Then a planting hole is dug, which is at least twice as deep and wide as the root ball. Now the plant is inserted and the planting hole is filled with excavated earth. Finally, water the whole thing well. For a hedge planting about 3 plants per meter are recommended and for a good ground cover about five plants per m². The ‘Potentilla fruticosa Gold Carpet’ variety, for example, is suitable for this.
Location and soil
- The finger shrub prefers sunny and moist locations.
- But it also thrives in partially shaded locations, especially the red-flowering species.
- As a rule, it gets along well with any normal garden soil.
- The same goes for sandy and clay soils.
- However, permeable, fresh and nutrient-poor soils are preferred.
- The pH value should be acidic to slightly alkaline.
- Calcareous soils are poorly tolerated by the finger shrub.
- Too high a pH value can lead to a secondary iron deficiency (iron chlorosis).
- Soils that are too rich in nutrients can have a negative effect on flower formation.
Watering and fertilizing
The water requirement of the finger shrub is relatively high. Accordingly, you should regularly water abundantly, especially if it is persistent drought. The soil or the substrate should not dry out completely. However, waterlogging should be avoided.
Fertilization is usually not necessary but it can be done in spite of everything, namely in the spring in the form of a complete fertilizer. A light nitrogen fertilization can then be carried out in May / June. If the finger bush is supplied with horn shavings in early summer, no additional fertilization is required.
From July onwards there should be no more fertilization in order to prevent the growth of new shoots before the onset of winter. These would no longer lignify sufficiently by winter and would die off with the first frosts. As a result, giving a slow release fertilizer in spring is also not advisable.
In order to prevent the finger bush from becoming bald or aging, it should be cut back from time to time. Since the flowers of this wood primarily form on new shoots, it is important to remove the old ones regularly. A corresponding taper cut is also recommended.
For this purpose, the branches should be cut about 10 cm above the ground. The plant will sprout again within a very short time, much more abundantly than before. A corresponding pruning can be done in spring, in March as well as in autumn, whereby the shrub recovers more quickly after a cut in spring. Under certain circumstances it can also be sufficient to cut away only protruding or disturbing outer shoots. This, too, usually leads to a more compact growth and abundant flowering.
Only sufficiently sharp scissors or saws should be used for the pruning and larger cut surfaces should always be treated with an appropriate wound closure agent. Dead wood or dead shoots are always cut back into the healthy wood and wild shoots to be removed directly at their attachment point.
Propagation by sowing
Propagation can take place, among other things, by sowing. The seeds for propagation are formed by the finger bush from the bloomed flowers. These are fully developed in autumn. Then they can be put in the appropriate substrate in planters. The young plants should then overwinter in the pot and planted out the following spring.
Propagation by cuttings / shoot tips
In addition to sowing, the finger bush can also be propagated using cuttings or shoot tips. For this form of propagation, the cuttings are cut between November and February. These should be lignified and about 15-20 cm long and each cut off at an angle under a bud. Then they are stuck with the interface in damp sand and stored frost-free until spring. In late spring it can then be planted directly in the garden.
Propagation by root division
Propagation by root division should take place in spring. To do this, the plant is carefully dug out and the rootstock is divided accordingly with a spade or the like. The plants obtained in this way can then be planted separately.
- The finger shrub or five-finger shrub is completely hardy.
- Depending on the species, it can withstand temperatures of -20 to -25 degrees.
- Accordingly, winter protection can be completely dispensed with.
Diseases and pests
chlorosis Iron chlorosis is the result of a deficiency symptom and occurs accordingly with an iron deficiency or an excess of lime. Signs of this can be pale, yellowish discolored young leaves and shoot tips. This can be remedied, for example, by adding humus with a correspondingly slightly acidic pH value and by spraying the leaves with iron chelate compounds, such as those contained in the trace nutrient fertilizer Fetrilon.
Leaf spot disease Leaf spot
disease is caused by fungi. Yellowish, red or brown spots can be seen on the leaves of the plant in question. The plant looks like it’s already wilting, it looks sick.
In most cases, the cause of an infestation are care errors such as a wrong location, too moist soil or insufficient air circulation. In order to prevent this as best as possible, you should ensure that there is sufficient distance between the individual plants when planting.
For effective control, infected leaves should be removed as quickly as possible. The tool used must be clean and, if possible, disinfected after the cut. The removed leaves should be disposed of with household waste and under no circumstances on the compost. After all infected leaves have been removed, treatment with a broad spectrum fungicide is recommended. This is important because leaf spot disease usually involves several types of fungus.
Powdery mildew Powdery mildew
is also a fungus that occurs mainly in dry, warm weather in conjunction with night dew. This mushroom overwinters on the shoots. It can be recognized by a white powdery coating on the upper side of the leaves. As a result, the leaves wither, shrivel and dry up. The stems, flowers and buds of the finger bush can also be affected.
Weak plants are particularly susceptible. Accordingly, it is advisable to strengthen the plants accordingly, for example with a homeopathic plant elixir. For the control of powdery mildew, the trade offers appropriate pesticides. Some of these remedies can also be used preventively.
Downy mildew is also identifiable by a fungus covering. However, this is gray or gray-violet and is located on the underside of the leaves. As a rule, only yellowish spots can be seen on the upper side of the leaves. Here too, appropriate organic fungicides can be used both for prevention and control.
An aphid infestation can be seen in curled or curled and deformed leaves as well as yellow, gray or black small lice on the shoot tips and the underside of the leaves. In addition, the infected parts of the plant are partly covered with black soot and sticky.
In order to prevent aphids, it is advisable to settle more beneficial insects in the garden or to encourage their settlement. Since this alone is often not enough, you can also use appropriate spraying agents from the trade.
Particularly beautiful varieties
- Potentilla fruticosa ‘Abbotswood’ – ‘Abbotswood’ is the most beautiful white flowering variety of the finger shrub. It forms large, pure white flowers from June to October and reaches heights of 60 to 80 cm. Cutting back in winter or spring promotes denser growth. Only the upper third should be cut back and not into the old wood.
- Potentilla fruticosa ‘Goldfinger’ – This variety also grows to about 80 cm high. The flowers appear from June to autumn in a bright, light yellow color. This species is suitable as an area cover, hedge plant but also as a small ornamental wood.
- Potentilla fruticosa ‘Red Ace’ – This ornamental shrub, which is up to 40 cm high, is adorned with numerous small orange-red flowers, the color of which fades in the sun and takes on a yellow hue. This species is also suitable as an ornamental shrub, area cover and as a ground cover.
- Potentilla fruticosa Lovely Pink – This compact growing variety is probably the prettiest pink variety of the finger shrub. It becomes about 1 m high and can use pruning in spring. It is particularly suitable for low shaped hedges.
- Potentilla ‘Tilford Cream’ – This beautiful ground cover is covered with numerous creamy white flowers from June to October. It becomes about 50-80 cm high and is equally suitable for home gardens, as a ground cover and for free-standing flower hedges.
Finger brush as a bonsai
A finger shrub cultivated as a bonsai can spend the summer outdoors and overwinter in a cool room. Rain and wind make the bonsai more resistant. The substrate should not dry out completely at any time of the year. It is recommended to shower the plant with rainwater or stale water.
For proper growth, both branches and twigs as well as shoots and roots must be cut back regularly about every 6-8 weeks from May to September. The roots can be cut when repotting. This is necessary in order to create a balanced relationship between crown and root.
Wiring is not advisable for finger bushes, as the small branches are very brittle. You should fertilize regularly from spring to autumn with an organic fertilizer. You should refrain from fertilizing if the bonsai is in bloom or has been freshly potted.
The finger shrub owes its name to its pinnate leaves. This deciduous ornamental shrub with its different colored flowers embellishes cottage gardens, Mediterranean gardens or small front gardens alike. This perennial flowering plant is easy to care for and hardy. Under optimal conditions, it is also relatively resistant to diseases and pests.