Bell Heath (Erica cinerea)

Bell Heath

Bell Heath

Our Bell Heaths (Erica cinerea) are in full bloom.  This species of heath is native to western Europe from southern Norway to northern Portugal.     The foliage is needle-like, arranged in bundles. Foliage colors vary from yellows to dark greens. Here in the mid-Atlantic region the flowers bloom in late spring.

I’ve always loved the amazingly bright colors of the flowers –they remind me of summer. The cinereas in my garden are neon pink (‘Stephan Davis ’ & ‘Atrosanguinea Smith’) and purple (‘P.S. Patrick’).   These plants are under conifers so that they’re in semi-shade; still, the colors jump right out.   I only have a few cultivars, but have been impressed with how well they do, once they’re in the ground. Notice the bold text  – that’s me being emphatic . Keeping the plants alive until they’re large enough to plant in the ground has been a struggle.  The cinerea cuttings root nicely at about a 75% success rate, but die off begins once I up-pot them into 3inch pots in the late spring.   I’ll lose a few immediately, then a few more throughout the summer.  Then, to my dismay, most of the survivors die during the winter, even though they’re protected in our unheated green house. The plants in the ground are subject to the winter winds from the north; yet are virtually unscathed.

So that I can have more of these beauties in my gardens in the future, I plan on putting all the cinerea pots in our heated prop shed next winter.

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