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Heather Plant

Heather Plant

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Heather is a small evergreen shrub in the Ericaceae family, making it a relative of Andromeda (Pieris japonica), Rhododendron, and mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia). Its flowers, which bloom from mid-summer to early fall, are usually mauve, purple, or white. But its tiny (1/8 inch long), evergreen, scale-like leaves are valued just as much as its blooms. Height varies by cultivar. Shorter types are best-suited to be ground covers or planted in rock gardens; taller types can be planted in rows to form borders.

Heather has specific growing requirements that differ from some of the other plants you may be growing, so let's learn what it takes to make heather a top performer in your landscape.

Heather Care

A clue to its proper care lies in its very name, which comes from the kind of habitat known as a "heath" (a habitat immortalized in Scottish literature). This habitat has soil that's acidic and moist, but very well-drained. Heaths are relatively low in fertility; plants that grow in them are built to get by with fewer nutrients than the average plant. So put your energy into watering and pruning heather rather than into fertilizing it.

Light

Heather blooms best in full sun in zones 4 and 5. In zone 6, it profits from some afternoon shade.

Soil

Providing heather with very well-drained soil is critical and constitutes its primary soil requirement.

Water

Once established, heather has average water needs in zone 4 but will require more irrigation the further south you live in its range. Water the plants faithfully when young.

Temperature and Humidity

Heather likes a climate that is moist and cool. It cannot stand the high temperatures and humidity of regions such as the South in the U.S.