What can you tell me about Heather?

linlily(z5/6PA)April 10, 2013

My daughter has two nice sized plants put in by a landscaper 3-4 years ago. They look wonderful. Blooming started well over a month ago, when we were still getting snow. I'm going to ask her if she still has the tag that came with the plants.

I'm interested in adding one to my landscaping. It would be great to have some color in late winter/early spring. What has been your experience with Heather and how big can I expect the plant to get? Any favorite varieties you can recommend to me? My daughter's plants have lavender flowers.Thanks for any tips you can pass along.

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They need well drained, acidic soil in a lot of sun. While they are quite drought tolerant once fully established and mature, young plants cannot be allowed to dry out. Too dry a condition for their first season in the ground is the number one cause of failure with heathers.

Winter blooming heathers ('heaths') are members of the genus Erica and tend to be some of the most cold hardy. Erica carnea is fully hardy to zone 4 (zone 3 with good snow cover). Erica x darleyensis is hardy to zone 5 and offers some of the longest blooming selections. These also tend to be not as fussy about acidic soils.

Sizes are dependant on type. Some stay very flat to the ground but spread nicely like a groundcover; others can get 16 inches tall or more. They all spread to at least 20-24" in a loose formation.

'Kramer's Rote' is a wonderful dark, pinky purple with a long bloom season. Mediterranean White is a clear bright white flower against dark foliage. 'Mary Helen' has golden bronze winter color in the foliage and pink flowers.

The attached link is a wonderful resource for both information and for acquiring plants. There is also an exceptional heather nursery in MA, Rockspray Nursery, that sells by mail order widely along the upper east coast.

Here is a link that might be useful: Heaths and heathers nursery

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 7:13PM
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bogturtle(SE NJ 7a)

Finally found a small white heather. They are pricey, locally. This one was not expensive and quite small. Bloomed nicely, undeterred by snow and ice. My fear is that the plant will splay out, revealing a dead center, as it gets larger. We will see. Truly dislike the purple color in my garden, so white was the choice.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 10:40PM
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did you keep the plant label?
The Calluna Heathers benefit from pruning after flowering every year (traditionally sheep were grazing and doing the clipping in those Heaths)
If you got an Erica, pruning every 3 to 5 years should do the trick.
Well, have fun with your heather, bye, Lin

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 7:22AM
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I just emailed my daugther to ask if she has the tag for the 2 heathers. I hope she is able to find it.

Thank you all for responding. I definitely want to try one in my garden this year.


    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 7:43PM
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I have grown heaths (Erica) and heathers (Calluna) and really like them both. There are ones where the winter foliage turns bright gold or red, deep greens and silver foliaged ones. The late winter/early spring flowers of some of the Erica varieties are a delight as they bloom just as the plants are emerging from the snow. IME,if you can meet their requirement for acid, well-drained soil, they are an easy plant to grow.

Unfortunately, Rock Spray Nursery seems to have gone out of business a couple of years ago. They had an amazing selection of varieties and knowledgeable and helpful staff. As far as I know, the only nursery currently doing mail order with a similarly large selection is on the west coast. I'd love to hear about any others. Often I find one or ten varieties in a local nursery or even a big box store, so you can look around locally.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 8:45PM
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It took some research and a call to my daughters landscaper who put in her plants but I think I have the variety of Heather that is growing in her yard. The landscaper looked up her account from the 2009 job and they think that that year they used a heather called Erica X darleyensis.

Glad that mystery is solved!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 3:09PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I have about thirty total mixed Callunas and Ericas.

I shear all of them every year after they are done blooming and they all stay compact without splaying out or dead centers.

Shearing is particularly important with Callunas...

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 11:00AM
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Nice to know and thank you for posting. Successfully growing heather will be a learning experience for me. I need all the info that I can get from Gardenweb members who have been growing heather.


    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 3:57PM
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