Heathers & Heaths
Common Name: Winter Heath
Botanical Name: Erica carnea
Form: spreading horizontal oval
Plant Type: evergreen broadleaf shrub, ground cover
Mature Size: 1ft x 2ft, but depends on cultivar
Origin: British Isles, Europe
Hardiness Zone: 5 to 8
Foliage: soft, small green needles in whorls of 4
Flowers: urn shaped flowers in white, violet, pink, red in Dec to April
Fruit: brown capsule in May to June
Exposure: sun to light shade
Soil: acidic, moist, well-drained peaty soils
Uses: massing, rockery, containers, erosion control, winter and spring interest
Propagation: layering, semi-hardwood cuttings
Pruning: To keep plants compact, prune right after flowering by trimming off the flowers. Don’t cut back into mature wood as they may not regrow.
Problems: No serious problems except for root rot in poorly drained soils.
Comments: Often referred to as heather, Erica carnea, is actually a heath. Heaths flower during winter and spring. Their small green leaves are needle-like. Heathers (Calluna), flower in the summer until frost and have similar looking foliage but their foliage is scale-like.
Darley Heath, Winter Heath, Erica x darleyensis, is larger and more vigorous version of its sibling E. carnea. It grows to 2ft with a greater width depending on the cultivar. Flower colours are white, pink and purple and occur in late fall through to spring.
Scotch heather, bell heather, Erica cinerea, grows to 2 ft with equal or greater spread. It flowers in summer in pinks, reds, white and violet.
Scotch heather, heather or ling, Calluna vulgaris. Native to Northern North America and northern Europe to Eurasia. Grows 1 to 2 feet tall with equal or greater spread. Flowers from July to October in pinks, purples and reds. Full sun, part shade.