Plants which are hardy, look after themselves, with fantastic foliage and beautiful flowers to provide year-round interest offer a simple solution to keep your garden looking attractive throughout the seasons.
Heathers are plants which offer all these benefits and more, so here is our guide to the planting and care of these garden gems!
When we think about heather, we are almost always thinking about two different plants – heaths and heathers. Both belong to the Ericaceae family, but are botanically different and divided into the Erica (heath) and Callunas (heathers) genuses. In practical terms they are almost identical, sharing growth habits, form and colour – all are evergreen and low maintenance – and they enjoy the same garden conditions which make them easy to look after.
There are over 1,100 varieties between the two genuses, and these include plants which flower in all four of our seasons – great for year-round interest. There are lots of flower colours available – white, cerise, purple, lilac and red – and some plants have extra large flowers which provide added impact.
Foliage is also a big part of their attraction, offering a range of colours from green and yellow through to bronze and red. Foliage can also be used to differentiate between the two genuses, as heaths have needle-like leaves, and heathers have flat, small, scale-like leaves. Many foliage colours change with the season, and will positively sparkle against the winter hues of brown and tan or white snow!
All varieties are hardy and require little maintenance.
Planting and Care
Prepare your soil – all varieties prefer acidic soil, but many will also tolerate soil that is slightly alkaline. These plants also cope with poor, rocky soil as this imitates their natural habitat – but wherever they’re planted, they must be in free-draining soil.
Position – these plants need to be planted where they can enjoy full sun to provide the best foliage effect and the most compact growing habit. Depending on the variety, heathers grow from 1-2ft tall and 1.5-3ft wide.
Get your spacing right – space your plants as far apart as the mature plant’s width. This allows air circulation which is essential for good foliage growth and colour, but means that the plants are close enough so that they will eventually ‘knit’ together.
Don’t fuss – these plants really do not demand attention! Providing them with ericaceous fertilizer when you plant is all they need aside from a light annual prune – after flowering – to keep them tidy.
And if your garden really doesn’t offer the right conditions, they’re excellent in pots too – where you can control conditions!
So now you’re as fascinated by this plant family as we are, you’ll be keen to introduce your own heather display as soon as possible!
We have a great range of plants in stock, plus we have ericaceous compost and pots too should you need them, and we’re always happy to offer friendly, expert advice if you need it – so visit us in-store NOW, and secure your own slice of heather heaven!