Heather – plant’s origins and characteristics
Common heather, or Calluna vulgaris is a plant growing commonly in Europe. It can also be found in Asia and Africa. It’s valued mostly for its decorative aspect.
The plant is not very tall, it can grow up to 30-40 cm (ca. 1-1.30 ft). Its leaves resemble reduced, small needles that come in different colors. Green, yellow, grey and orange are the most common ones.
Heather is a cherished addition for gardens. It develops rich blooms. Depending on the variety, the flowers, and leaves have different colors. Common heather amazes mostly with its intense purple color.
Heather – the most popular varieties
Common heather is the basic and most popular variety. But note that this group has many cultivars – they are also often picked for gardens or pots. Here are the most commonly chosen ones:
- Allegretto – this variety blooms with tiny purple-red flowers, its blooming season lasts from August until the end of September,
- Boskoop – it’s a heather plant with yellow leaves, the flowers are lilac,
- Gold Haze – heather plant with very light yellow leaves, it develops many white flowers,
- Dark Star – unique heather variety with flowers of intense, ruby-red flowers.
How to grow and care for heather?
Heather is a brilliant addition to any yard landscape. Heather plants grown indoors are an equally perfect interior decoration. The plant doesn’t need much, thanks to which even a beginner gardener can take care of it with ease. Heather is highly resistant to frost and droughts, which is a big advantage.
When to plant heather? The beginning of September is the best time for it. Make sure the location is prepared specifically for the plant. A sunny spot and highly permeable soil is the best option. The perfect pH for this plant is between 3.5 and 5.0 – acidic.
- If the soil doesn’t have the right pH, you can acidify the flower bed. For this purpose, use peat mixes purchased in garden shops. 25 kilograms of peat per 1 square meter is the typical proportion.
- If the soil in a particular location is not permeable enough, you need to improve drainage. Pour some gravel under the layer of peat. A 10-centimeter layer is enough to guarantee perfect conditions for your heather plants.
If you plant heather in a flower bed, mulching is recommended. Pine bark is the perfect way to do it. Using it for mulching protects the plant from freezing in winter and drying up in summer. Pine bark is also a great way to prevent weeds from growing. Heather secured this way in the garden will safely make it through the cold winter season.
Heather – practical uses
Heather has medicinal properties, and is often used by herbalists. It’s a diuretic, thanks to which it stimulates kidneys to work properly and removes swelling. It also helps to flush out deposits from kidneys and urinary tract.
Heather also works as a muscle relaxant and improves digestion. A brew made of the plant removes harmful bacteria from the gastrointestinal tract – because it’s an antiseptic.
Heather plant care – how to water heather?
Heather needs generous amounts of water. But don’t water the plant too frequently, as it might lead to unwanted mold formation. Rich watering in moderate frequency is the best solution. This way, the drainage layer removes water from the plant’s roots, protecting them from rot.
Does heather need fertilizing?
Heather plants require periodical fertilizing. The plant needs a slow-release fertilizer. We recommend using 4-5 g of the product per one heather seedling. Spring is the best time for fertilizing heather plants.
How to overwinter potted heather plants?
Heather is a frost-resistant plant. But if planted in pots, it needs suitable preparation. If heather is planted in a medium-sized pot, it’s good to transfer it to a bigger container. The pot should also be secured against very low temperatures. A layer of styrofoam, special sponge or cardboard is the best solution. This way, you can secure heather on your balcony, so the plants can survive winter and amaze you with their beautiful appearance next year.
When to cut heather?
Heather growing in pots, as well as in flowerbeds requires regular trimming to keep its beautiful appearance. But remember that its long stems help the plant through winter and protect it from low temperatures. For this reason, never prune heather in fall.
Heather blooming in summer and at the beginning of fall should be pruned in spring. Plan doing it in March and April. Varieties blooming in spring have to be pruned in May and June.
Heather – diseases and pests
Heather plants are resistant to most diseases and pests. Planting them in an unsuitable spot is the biggest threat. Impermeable soil retains excess water, which is a simple way to develop harmful fungi. If that’s the problem, transferring the plant to a new location is the best solution.
Heather flowers may be attacked by various fungi especially in July. They might also develop grey mold. If this happens, the plant needs spraying with adequate chemicals. A quick reaction can save the plant.
📍 When does heather bloom?
Heather blooming season depends on a particular variety. Common heather (calluna vulgaris) flowers from August to October. By picking different cultivars, you can enjoy heather flowers from the end of February until late autumn.
📍 How frequently to water heather?
Heather plants are resistant to drought. But it doesn't mean you can forget about watering them. Make sure to water these flowers generously but rarely. Combined with permeable soil, it will create ideal conditions for the plant's development.
📍 How to prune heather?
Heather plants require regular pruning. Cutting heather should be performed in accordance to the particular variety. The common variety should be pruned in spring. Cultivars blooming in spring have to be cut at the end of May and the beginning of June.
📍 How to save withered heather?
Heather that withered can still be saved. It can be done by cutting it. Leave only 1/3 of the stems' length. Then water the plant and observe.