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September – Autumn and Winter Flowering Heathers

By 21st September 2018Plant of the month
Heather for autumn/winter flowering

Who could ignore our dramatic UK moor and heathland at this time of year, when mile upon mile is awash in pink and white from these wonderful plants. A main stay of many established gardens they fell out of favour a few years ago along with alpines and conifers.

Luckily, opinions have changed and these versatile, evergreen and (most importantly) low maintenance shrubs are back in favour. With their brightly coloured clusters of bell-shaped flowers in shades of white, pink and red and wide variety of evergreen foliage colour  – they provide a reliable and attractive addition to both gardens and container displays. Pair them with conifers for a traditional look or grasses for a more contemporary display.

Choice

There are many, many different varieties so to help you choose the two main groups are:

  • Calluna also known as Heather and Ling, these require free draining, ericaceous (acid) soils and are at their best in full sun.
  • Erica also called Heather or Heath, also require free draining soils but grow well in both acid and slightly alkaline soils and can be planted where there is slight shade.

We also stock a wide variety of bedding heathers. These include twin and trio varieties, where white and pink are mixed in a single pot, and are especially popular in container displays.

The heather which always divides opinion is the Painted Heather. These are essentially a heather sprayed with a coloured vegetable dye, often in bright eye catching colours. They add a vibrant colour splash to displays, gradually fading to return to its original colour in time.

Care

Heathers require very little in the way of maintenance. Trimming spent flower spikes annually should keep them in check and most named varieties will be provided with information relating to their mature height and spread so that you can chose the right variety for you.

If foliage becomes a little on the yellow side,  annual ericaceous liquid or granular feed should be sufficient.

 

 

 

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