An ideal ground cover for year-round color and fragrance, Wintergreen is a good choice for woodland areas with acidic soil. This creeping, woody ground cover is native to Eastern North America and performs best when planted in soils that retain moisture. Its lustrous, oval evergreen leaves turn attractive shades of purple in the fall. Its waxy, nodding, bell-shaped white flowers bloom in early summer and give way to bright red berries that are good winter food for wildlife. Wintergreen also makes attractive Christmas decorations. This ground cover is a perfect complement to other acid-loving plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons and blueberries. Gaultheria procumbens
Planting InstructionsSet plant at same level it is growing at in the container. Firm soil and water thoroughly.
Winter CareNo winter care needed.
Flower FormSmall pinkish-white, drooping, waxy, bell shaped. Similar to those of blueberries.
Foliage TypeLustrous oval evergreen leaves.
Soil RequirementPrefers acid, partially shaded, sufficiently moist soil. Will tolerate more sun if soil is kept moist.
Watering RequirementWater regulary.
PruningPrune back old wood in spring to encourage new growth.
Additional InformationLeaves have been used in making tea.
Unique CharactersticsMissouri Botanical Garden: Wintergreen is a rhizomatous, creeping, woody, evergreen groundcover of the heath family that is native to woodlands in Eastern North America (Newfoundland to Manitoba south to Minnesota, Tennessee, Virginia and in the mountains to Georgia and Alabama). Erect stems clad with glossy, leathery, elliptic to oblong, dark green leaves (to 2" long) rise up from the rhizomes to 3-6" tall. Plants will spread over time to form an attractive ground cover. Waxy, nodding, bell-shaped, white flowers (3/8" long) bloom from the leaf axils in early summer (June-July). Flowers give way to edible bright red berries (3/8" diameter) that persist through winter. Leaves acquire shades of purple in fall. Leaves and fruit have the aroma and taste of wintergreen. Berries are an excellent winter food for some wildlife such as pheasant, grouse, squirrels and deer. Foliage was once used to make oil of wintergreen which has astringent, stimulant and diuretic properties. Wintergreen has been a popular flavoring for chewing gum, candies and toothpaste. Dried leaves can be used to make an interesting tea (teaberry is a sometimes-used common name for this plant), but this usage is no longer recommended. Leaves were once made into poultices for arthritic pain and sore muscles. Fruits may be eaten raw or added to pastries and salads. Gaultheria honors Jean-Francois Gaultier (1708-1756) who was the king's physician in the French colony of Quebec from 1742 until 1756 plus an avid botanist and plant collector. Specific epithet refers to the plant's low-spreading habit.