Gaultheria procumbens

Gaulthérie couchée

Excellent ground cover for shady areas auch as woodland gardens, rock gardens, foundations or native plant areas. Plants are an interesting complement to other acid-loving shrubs such as azaleas, rhododendrons, kalmias and blueberries.

Berries are an excellent winter food for some wildlife such as pheasant, grouse, squirrels and deer.

Fruits may be eaten raw or added to pastries and salads.

Wintergreen has been a popular flavoring for chewing gum, candies and toothpaste. The leaves can be used to make tea.

Winterberry prefers light sun to full shade and do not tolerate heat or drought. Winterberry is also used alongside pointsettias and Christmas cacti during the holidays to spruce up decor.

Its natural habitat is, Mixed forest, dappled light.

Also known as the eastern teaberry, the checkerberry, the boxberry or the American wintergreen, gaultheria procumbens is a stylish ground-cover plant with red berries and dark green leaves. “Procumbens” literally translates to “lying flat.”

Video on Gaultheria procumbens

Planting Gaultheria procumbens

Space plants 10-14” apart for growth as a ground cover. Seeds need to be separated from the pulp and given 4 to 13 weeks cold treatment. Plant seeds in containers containing peat and sand in early spring. Place in a greenhouse until sprouts are visible. You can also propogate wintergreen’s through division, which is much faster. Divide plants in early spring and ensure they get an average amount of water.
You can also propogate in early spring by division. Cut one of the new stem sections with roots and re-plant in sterile seed starting mix. Keep moist.

Companion plant suggestions include Chenille, Clivia, Miniature Orchids, Rhododendrons

Caring for Wintergreen

Germination seeds require a period of cold-moist stratification (1-2 months).

Established plants tolerate some dry soils. Plants perform best in climates with cool summers.

It is happiest in Bright spot with well-drained soil rich in organic matter, with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.

In terms of water, Wintergreen needs Keep soil moist throughout growth and bloom season.

Pruning Gaulthérie couchée

No pruning is necessary but you can harvest the leaves for tea anytime during the growing season.


The scented oils from the plants deter most pests. Poorly draining soils can cause root rot or mildew.

Foliage was once used to make oil of wintergreen which has astringent, stimulant and diuretic properties. Leaves were once made into poultices for arthritic pain and sore muscles. The fragrant oil from Wintergreen’s leaves traditionally used for medicine, but munching leaves raw can cause stomach distress.