Heaths and heathers are evergreen plants, hardy to zone 5.
Calluna (commonly called heather) has scale-like foliage.
The foliage of Erica (often called heath) is needle-like.
The plants vary from about 4 in. to 24 in. depending on the cultivar.
Some are prostrate, while others grow more upright.
Foliage color varies from yellow-green to gray-green to dark green.
Many heathers turn a rich red-orange in winter.
Heather blooms between late July and early September.
Some heath varieties bloom in winter while some bloom in summer.
Flower colors for heath and heather are white and various shades of pink, rose and magenta.
All heathers grow nicely in acid soil similarly to rhododendrons, azaleas, and blueberries.
If you have alkaline soil, adding peat moss will help to achieve an ideal pH of 4.5 to 5.5.
Excellent drainage is a must. If you have heavy clay soil, the best remedy is to create raised beds or mounds, heavily amended with a mix of soil, peat, composted bark, and sand.
Mulch heathers after planting.
In the mid-Atlantic region, heathers thrive in morning sun or high shade.
Be attentive with watering the first year of planting as the fine roots dry out quickly.
Once established, heathers are quite drought tolerant and rarely need watering.
Give plants winter protection with evergreen boughs, pine needles or oak leaves.
Annual spring pruning keeps plants from getting bare-legged and woody.
Be sure to prune Erica carnea and Erica x darleyensis immediately after they finish flowering.
Fertilizer is not necessary and can even be harmful to heathers.
They are not invasive.
They are drought tolerant once established in the garden.
They do not require fertilizer.
They provide year-round color in the garden.
Visit our friends at the NorthEast Heather Society website for even more information about heather.