The small, oval, evergreen leaves of wintergreen are glossy dark green, often taking on reddish to purplish tones in the winter. When crushed, the foliage emits a distinctive sweet-spicy scent. Small, white urn-shaped flowers appear in spring, followed by berrylike scarlet fruits that often persist well into winter. Wintergreen makes a lovely addition to shady woodland gardens; plant it near a path so you can enjoy an up-close view.
Common name: Wintergreen, teaberry, checkerberry
Botanical name: Gaultheria procumbens
Plant type: Evergreen ground cover
Zones: 3 to 7
Height: 3 to 6 inches
- Sun: Partial to full shade
- Soil: Loamy or sandy, acidic, with ample organic matter
- Moisture: Moist yet well-drained
- Mulch: 1-inch layer of fine organic matter, such as pine needles or shredded leaves
- Pruning: None
- Fertilizer: Apply compost or balanced fertilizer annually if needed.
- Division of rooted sections
Pests and diseases
- No major problems
- ‘Very Berry’ is a seed strain that has especially heavy fruit production.
- Wintergreen has long been used medicinally and as a flavoring. Oil of wintergreen was once extracted from this plant but wintergreen flavoring now comes either from other plants or as a synthetic compound
- Grow wintergreen with other heath family members that require similar soil conditions (acidic, moist yet well-drained), such as azaleas, rhododendrons and blueberries.
All in the family
- Wintergreen is a member of the heath family (Ericaceae), a large family that contains many garden ornamentals.
- Some popular heath family plants include rhododendrons, azaleas, mountain laurel, pieris, blueberries, heaths and heathers
- Most members of this family require acidic (low pH) soil for best growth.
Where to buy