Wintergreen Plant

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Wintergreen Plant - Gaultheria procumbens

Wintergreen plant – Gaultheria procumbens is a spreading groundcover native to the eastern areas of North America. The Wintergreen Plant does well in areas that don’t get much sun. It has red berries in the fall and winter, making it a Christmas-oriented plant. It's hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture Zones 3-8. The plant can be used as an ornamental groundcover but may not be the best as an underfoot groundcover because of the noticeable red berries it produces, as well as the mature height of the plant. The berries are treated as ornamental, though some sources may consider them edible. This is the plant that gave rise to the wintergreen flavor, but older users such as brewing tea from the plant is not a good idea. Always check with the nursery you buy the plant from first before assuming you can eat anything from the plant.

Wintergreen plant grows to less than 1 foot in height and no more than 3 feet in width; it often has a smaller spread than that. It is evergreen, with the leaves changing color from green to reddish as the weather gets colder. Summer-blooming flowers are white, while the small leaves tend to cluster together. Soil should be moist but well-draining; the plant spreads as its rhizomes travel underground. The plant grows at a reasonable rate, so if you line paths with it, keep an eye on rogue stems that creep onto the pathway. Any pruning should be done after the flowers have opened up, and surrounding the plant with mulch will protect the rhizomes in colder weather. The leaves, which can grow to a couple of inches long, and the berries make otherwise bare winter gardens look much more lively. The slightly acidic soil is best; if you are also planting blueberries, wintergreen plant is a good companion in that garden bed.

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