Welcome to our essential guide to growing and caring for Potentilla Reptans (Creeping Cinquefoil). A plant that offers ample ground cover and plenty of color, Potentilla reptans may be a great pick for your needs. It’s a hardy perennial flowering plant that creeps along the ground, producing bright yellow blooms. This low-maintenance, perennial species is a great choice for lush open spacaes, borders, or wild garden.

How to Grow Potentilla Reptans (Creeping Cinquefoil)

How to Grow Potentilla Reptans (Creeping Cinquefoil) – The Essentials: 

Botanical Name:Potentilla reptans
Also Known As:Creeping Cinquefoil, European Cinquefoil, Creeping Tormentil, Common Cinquefoil, Five Finger Grass
Hardiness Zones:USDA growing zones 4 to 8
Flowering Months: June through September, depending on location.
Growing Difficulty:Easy to grow. Suitable for beginners.
Type of Plant: Creeping herbaceous perennial
Light Requirements:Prefers full sun. Can tolerate shaded conditions. 
Temperature and Humidity:Winter hardy up to -30 degrees Fahrenheit and drought resistant. Does well in a variety of humidity levels. 
Watering Needs:Water as needed to maintain slightly moist soil, especially during the first growing season. 
Soil Preferences:Well-draining soil. Will tolerate a range of conditions and pH levels but may grow best in neutral soils around 7 on the pH scale. 
Feeding:Does not require frequent fertilization. If you choose to fertilize, use an all-purpose fertilizer less than once per year. 
Growth Expectations:This low-growing plant may reach 10 to 50 centimeters high with a similar spread upon maturity. 
Toxicity:Non-toxic to humans and pets.

About Potentilla Reptans (Creeping Cinquefoil):

About Potentilla Reptans (Creeping Cinquefoil)

Scientific Facts

Potentilla reptans is a species commonly called Creeping Cinquefoil. This plant is a member of the Potentilla genus and the Rosaceae plant family, or the rose family. 

Origins and History

Potentilla reptans are native to areas in North Africa and Eurasia. Today, it is common to find Creeping Cinquefoil in the South of England, but it also grows anywhere from Europe to the Himalayas. This plant works as ground cover, but it is considered invasive in some areas. 

Botanical Characteristics

Potentilla reptans are a creeping herbaceous perennial plant. It grows low and spreads across the ground, producing nodes that take root upon contact with the earth. 

This species has yellow flowers that look similar to buttercups. Its foliage is small and round, with serrated edges. 

Uses and Benefits

Uses and Benefits

A particularly great thing about Creeping Cinquefoil is that it attracts pollinators. Like other Potentillas, this non-toxic species invites insects like butterflies into your garden.

You may notice that Potentilla reptans flowers have a familiar shape. That’s because their appearance was replicated in architecture throughout the Middle Ages. 

This design, often called the Rose of Venus, was particularly common in Christian architectural structures like arches, doorways, and windows.

Bloom Time and Flowering Season

Your Potentilla reptans will bloom from summer into autumn. The flowering season will typically last from around June through September, depending on where you live.

Growth Expectations

As you know, this plant grows low to the ground. So, it will only reach around 10 to 50 centimeters tall. 

If isolated, its spread will be similar to its height. However, when stems come into contact with the earth, they can continue to take root and spread. It will take one to two years for your Potentilla reptans to reach maturity. 

Best Companion Plants for Potentilla Reptans

You’ll need to be careful about what to grow near Creeping Cinquefoil. That’s because this plant can take over other species, and it is difficult to remove once it has spread.

With that said, this species may work for you as ground cover for a lawn, wildflower meadow, or bulb garden. Other types of Potentilla such as Pink Beauty and Gold Drop can add a nice contrast to the garden.

How to Grow Potentilla Reptans (Creeping Cinquefoil): 

How to Grow Potentilla Reptans (Creeping Cinquefoil)

What Are the Best Locations to Plant Potentilla Reptans?

Now, this species grows best in a spot with full sun or partial shade. So, you’ll want to grow your Creeping Cinquefoil in a meadow or lawn that meets these requirements. 

This plant will grow best in a contained space or an area that can spread without taking over other plants. It makes a great lawn replacement and looks good surrounding stepping stones or growing in a rock garden.

What Are the Best Times of Year to Plant? 

The best time to plant Creeping Cinquefoil is in the early spring. This way, it can establish roots and grow strong during that first growing season.

Growing from Seed vs. Young Nursery Plants 

It’s easy to grow Potentilla reptans from seed or young plants. Buying a nursery plant will take less time and guarantee the variety you’re after. 

That’s because Potentillas are often hybrids, so seeds may end up growing a different variety than the one you intended to plant. With that said, harvesting seeds is a more cost-effective approach to growing this species. 

What to Do Before Planting 

Before planting Creeping Cinquefoil, make sure to pick a spot where it can’t take over and harm other plants. Know that this plant can grow aggressively and is tricky to remove once established.

If you decide to plant this species, you’ll need to have the right tools. Gather the necessary materials listed in the Essential Tools section below. 

What’s the Best Soil for Potentilla Reptans?

What's the Best Soil?

Now, this species does best in well-draining soil. It can grow in various conditions and pH levels. However, it is happiest in neutral soils around 7 on the pH scale. 

How to Plant Potentilla Reptans

These steps will help you plant Potentilla reptans as ground cover. 

  • Choose a good spot to grow Creeping Cinquefoil. Remove any weeds and grass and make sure there is plenty of room to spread without harming other plants.
  • Apply a two-inch layer of fresh compost to the area. Make sure the soil is loose yet smooth before planting your Creeping Cinquefoil.
  • Now, dig a hole slightly larger than this plant’s current container.
  • Remove the plant from its container, place it in the hole, and fill any gaps with soil.
  • Water deeply and keep soil moist until the plant’s roots are established. 

Light Preferences 

This species enjoys full sun, but it can tolerate a shady environment. It will grow well in most conditions as long as it receives a few hours of sunlight each day.

Temperature and Humidity Preferences 

Luckily, Potentilla reptans is winter-hardy down to -30 degrees Fahrenheit. This plant is drought-resistant and thrives in various humidity levels. 

How to Care for Potentilla Reptans (Creeping Cinquefoil):

How to Care for Potentilla Reptans (Creeping Cinquefoil)

Watering Needs

When you first plant Creeping Cinquefoil, water frequently enough to maintain slightly moist soil. From there, the plant will likely receive the hydration it needs from precipitation. 

Fertilizing Your Creeping Cinquefoil

Conveniently, this plant does not require frequent fertilization. In fact, it will usually grow well without any fertilizer at all. However, if you want to fertilize Creeping Cinquefoil, you can use an all-purpose solution once every year or two. 

Pruning and Deadheading

There is no need to prune or deadhead Creeping Cinquefoil. However, you may want to trim the plant for aesthetic reasons. 

If so, simply use sharp pruners to achieve your desired look. You can also use a lawnmower on this plant if you’re using it as a lawn replacement.


Fortunately, Potentilla reptans are easy to propagate. Use this plant’s creeping stems for propagation by allowing nodes to come into contact with the soil. These nodes will take root and form more Creeping Cinquefoil in no time. 


There are no special considerations for Creeping Cinquefoil in the winter months, as it is a cold-hardy species. 

When and How to Repot Plants Grown in Containers 

It is uncommon to grow Creeping Cinquefoil in containers. With that said, some gardeners choose to grow them in small containers and increase the pot size before placing this species in its final spot in the garden. 

If you’re taking this approach, here are the steps to take to repot your Creeping Cinquefoil.

  • Find a container one pot size larger than the plant’s current pot. Make sure its new pot has holes for drainage.
  • You can add pebbles to the base for extra drainage. Then, add a fresh layer of soil to support the plant’s roots.
  • Now, place the plant in its new pot. Make sure the top of its root ball will rest just a few inches beneath the lip of the pot. 
  • Fill in any gaps with soil so that your Creeping Cinquefoil is sturdy in its new environment. 

Common Potentilla Reptans Problems and How to Treat Them

Common Potentilla Reptans Problems and How to Treat Them

Signs of Watering Issues

If Creeping Cinquefoil doesn’t receive enough water when it is first planted, root development may be affected. On the other hand, too much water may cause root rot to develop. 

Avoid issues with hydration by keeping the soil slightly moist during this plant’s first growing season. From there, only water if rainfall drops below one inch per week in your area. 

Signs of Improper Light or Temperature Conditions

This plant is tolerant of various light and temperature conditions. However, too much sun and heat may cause it to fade faster during its growing season. Avoid any issues by growing this plant in a partially shady spot in USDA growing zones 4 to 8.

Common Pests and Diseases 

It’s uncommon for Potentilla reptans to have trouble with diseases or pests. Still, you may want to know about the following issues and ways to treat them. 

  • Root rot: Any plant that develops root rot will need immediate attention. If you notice this fungal infection, cut away the affected area, remove the plant from its soil and replace it in a fresh, clean mix.
  • Aphids, thrips, and other insect infestations: Occasionally, insect infestations may threaten your Creeping Cinquefoil. If you notice aphids, thrips, or other harmful critters, remove visible bugs by hand or dislodge them by spraying the plant with water. From there, you can apply an insecticidal solution until the infestation subsides. 

Essential Tools to Have Around 

Essential Tools to Have Around

Here is a complete list of the tools and materials you’ll want to have around for your Creeping Cinquefoil ground cover. 

  • A shovel for gardening
  • A well-draining soil mix
  • Pruners if needed for maintenance
  • A container with a drainage hole if needed
  • Pebbles for extra drainage if growing in containers
  • An all-purpose fertilizer (optional)

Wrapping Up 

Admittedly, Creeping Cinquefoil may be a little too hardy in some cases. However, it could be the right choice if you’re looking for a ground cover with a touch of cheerful color. With this plant, one thing is for sure. You’re bound to enjoy years of cheery blooms with minimal effort. 

Growing Potentilla Reptans (Creeping Cinquefoil) FAQs: 

Are Potentilla reptans hardy?

Yes, Potentilla reptans are a hardy species. It can endure frost as well as drought conditions. This plant is also tough enough to thrive with minimal care.

How big do Potentilla reptans get?

As a creeping plant, Potentilla reptans only reach a height of around 10 to 50 centimeters. It will have a similar width unless it continues to creep and spread along the ground.

What do you do with Potentilla reptans over winter?

As a cold-hardy plant, Potentilla reptans won’t need much winter care. If you notice that some of its stems die back over winter, you’ll want to prune them to encourage healthy growth come spring.

Is Potentilla reptans invasive?

Yes, Potentilla reptans can be invasive in specific environments. It may be difficult to remove this plant from lawns and flowerbeds once it has spread.

Is Potentilla reptans a perennial?

Yes, Potentilla reptans is a perennial plant. With minimal care, this species will continue to bloom with the passing years.

Will Potentilla reptans grow in the shade?

Yes, Potentilla can grow in partial shade. If you live in an area with hotter summer weather, this plant will prefer a bit of shade in its environment.

Is Potentilla reptans poisonous to humans?

No, Potentilla reptans are not considered poisonous to humans. Additionally, this plant is not toxic to cats, dogs, or other pets.

Contributing Editor | Full Bio | + posts

Brandy Wells is an American copywriter and content writer living in Spain. From hiking in her hometown near the Smoky Mountains to digging in the dirt in rural Oregon, she has always put a love of nature at the heart of her endeavors. These days, you’ll catch her writing content, and of course, taking breaks to tend to her growing houseplant collection.


Brandy Wells is an American copywriter and content writer living in Spain. From hiking in her hometown near the Smoky Mountains to digging in the dirt in rural Oregon, she has always put a love of nature at the heart of her endeavors. These days, you’ll catch her writing content, and of course, taking breaks to tend to her growing houseplant collection.

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