Growing Heathers

Planting Heathers

A heather garden should be planted in a position where it will be unshaded for all or most of the day and, if possible, facing south. Planting on dry sites or under trees should be avoided. Bold plantings of groups of 5 or more of each cultivar give a good overall effect, but single cultivars, chosen to contrast or complement each other can look attractive in a small garden.

Where possible beds should be of informal shape with no straight edges. Plan on using 5 plants per sq. metre (4 plants per sq. yard) making allowances for other small leaved shrubs planted with the heathers.

Plant deeply with the lower foliage resting on the soil surface.

Aftercare

Keep the bed free of weeds, a peat mulch will greatly assist this task. Heathers benefit from an annual pruning and the following schedule may be of assistance.

Calluna vulgaris

Each February or March, prune long flowering spikes back to plant. Trim off all flower heads.

Daboecia cantabrica

Each February or March, trim off dead flowers and seed pods, to make bushy growth.

Erica carnea

Every other April or May, trim flower heads with shears. Trim the more vigorous cultivars hard to stop the centre going bare.

Erica ciliaris

Each April or May, trim off dead flowers.

Erica cinerea

Each February or March, trim off dead flowers particularly long flowering spikes.

Erica tetralix, Erica x stuartii

Each April or May, trim off dead flowers.

Erica arborea, Erica australis, Erica erigena, Erica scoparia, Erica terminalis, Erica x veitchii

After flowering, trim half of previous year’s growth for the first four years to encourage bushy growth; trim off broken branches. Stake for support.

Erica x darleyensis, Erica x oldenburgensis

Trim each June. Do not be afraid of limiting growth.

Erica manipuliflora, Erica x griffithsii, Erica multiflora, Erica vagans

Leave flower heads on for russet colours during winter. Trim every March. Do not be afraid of limiting growth.

Erica spiculifolia

Each February or March, trim off dead flowers.

Erica x watsonii, Erica x williamsii

Trim hard, every other year in March.
In general, trimming retards the flowering by two to three weeks.