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How to Grow and Care for Heath and Heather

How to grow Heath, How to grow Heather, Gardening with Heaths and Heathers

Heath growing information, Heather growing information, How to grow Heather, Heather care, Heath care, Erica carnea, erica darleyensis, calluna vulgaris, Winter heath

Evergreen, Heaths (Erica), and Heathers (Calluna vulgaris) are terrific plants that deserve a spot in the garden. Their fabulous ability to change color year-round, injecting vivid life into our landscape at a time when they need it most, is invaluable. Low maintenance, deer or salt resistant, winter hardy, drought tolerant (once established), and fairly easy to grow, they do not require much: decent drainage and some sunshine.

Heath and Heather: Planting

  • Heather may be planted in the fall or early spring so that the plants may become established.
  • Heather needs a minimum of six hours of sun a day. Full sun is better as the foliage colors intensify when fully exposed. Too much shade makes the plants leggy and affects the brilliance of their color.
  • These plants require good drainage. If your soil is heavy, a hillside, raised bed, or mound of soil can help improve drainage.

Guide Information

Hardiness 4 - 8
Heat Zones 5 - 7
Climate Zones 1A, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 15, 16, 17
Plant Type Shrubs
Genus Erica, Calluna
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Clay, Loam
Soil pH Acid
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Dried Arrangements, Cut Flowers, Showy
Tolerance Drought, Deer
Attracts Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Landscaping Ideas Edging, Ground Covers, Banks And Slopes, Beds And Borders, Patio And Containers
Garden Styles Coastal Garden, Gravel and Rock Garden, Informal and Cottage, Traditional Garden
Erica carnea ‘Ice Princess’ (Winter Heath)
Erica carnea ‘Springwood Pink’ (Winter Heath)
Erica carnea ‘Myretoun Ruby’ (Winter Heath)
  • All heathers grow nicely in acid soil similarly to rhododendrons and azaleas. If your soil is alkaline, adding peat moss will help to achieve an ideal pH of 4.5 to 5.5.
  • Space heaths and heathers as far apart as their mature width and at least 2 ft. (60 cm) away from other shrubs to ensure good air circulation. This is important for good foliage growth and color
  • Dig a hole about twice as wide as the root ball and half again as deep.
  • Make vertical cuts to the length of the root ball and across the bottom. Break up the roots and work in some soil.
  • Water the plant once or twice a week when the soil is dry throughout the first season. The soil should be moist but not soggy. This will encourage rapid and vigorous growth of the plants. Once established, the plants are drought-tolerant and rarely need watering.
  • Mulch heathers after planting.
Erica x darleyensis ‘Ghost Hills’ (Winter Heath)
Erica x darleyensis ‘Kramer’s Rote’ (Winter Heath)
Erica x darleyensis ‘Arthur Johnson’ (Winter Heath)

Heath and Heather: Pruning

  • Summer bloomers: Pruning is essential and should occur in late fall or early spring below the old flowers on the branch. Round and shape the plant.
  • Winter bloomers: Shear lightly in spring, immediately after blooming. If your plants die out in the center, shearing will keep them alive and growing.
Calluna vulgaris ‘Aphrodite’ (Heather)
Calluna vulgaris ‘Dark Beauty’ (Heather)
Calluna vulgaris ‘Firefly’ (Heather)

Heath and Heather: Fertilizer

Fertilizer is not necessary and may even be harmful to heathers. Heaths and heathers actually like poor soil. If the plants are not thriving, use a low fertilizer rate for acid-loving evergreen plants.

Garden Examples

A Sparkling Spring Border Idea with Heaths and Wood Anemones
A Glowing Winter Border with Dogwood, Heath and Grasses
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Erica (Heath)
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 4 - 8
Heat Zones 5 - 7
Climate Zones 1A, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 15, 16, 17
Plant Type Shrubs
Genus Erica, Calluna
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Clay, Loam
Soil pH Acid
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Dried Arrangements, Cut Flowers, Showy
Tolerance Drought, Deer
Attracts Butterflies, Hummingbirds
Landscaping Ideas Edging, Ground Covers, Banks And Slopes, Beds And Borders, Patio And Containers
Garden Styles Coastal Garden, Gravel and Rock Garden, Informal and Cottage, Traditional Garden
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Erica (Heath)

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