ERICA – heather – heath

The mostly hardy evergreen shrubs and sub-shrubs of the Erica genus, known as heathers, are grown for their bell-shaped flowers and attractive foliage and are used as ground cover and hedging.

Suitable site and soil. Although tolerant of many soil types, they do best in peaty acid soils in an open, sunny spot.

Cultivation and care. Be sure to clear up any fallen leaves from around Ericas. Plant out in spring or autumn, or container plants at anytime. Trim tall-growing varieties lightly in autumn or before new growth starts. Clip off the dead flower stems of summer-flowering Ericas close to the foliage in 68 spring. Cut back winter and spring-flowering plants after flowering. Water in spring and during dry periods.

Propagation By cuttings in summer and early autumn. Large plants can be propagated by layering from early spring.

Recommended varieties. E. cornea (also known as E. herbo-cea) gives excellent ground cover and is up to 30cm – 12in high with a 60cm – 24in spread. It has white to pink or red flowers in winter and spring. Good varieties are ‘Springwood White’ with white flowers, ‘Myretoun Ruby’ with red flowers and ‘King George’ with rose pink flowers. E. cinerea (bell heather) is also about 30cm – 12in high but flowers in summer. It has purple flowers although varieties with white or almost scarlet flowers exist. A good variety is ‘Purple Beauty’.

Pests and diseases. Generally trouble-free.

Heather Bed

Heathers make beautiful ground cover with other plants, or arranged in groups on their own. Choose varieties with contrasting colours and with different flowering times for all year interest.

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