Saturday, June 13, 2009

Heaths & Heathers

Spring Torch Drawing


Calluna vulgaris

Varies with plants

Well, what is the difference between Heaths & Heathers?

Have dense, needle-like leaves and rarely need trimming except for shaping, the flowers are larger than Heather flowers and bell shaped.

The leaves are small and wonderfully colored, with flowers that usually grow on one side of the branches, the flowers are smaller than Heath flowers.

Heaths and Heathers are wonderful plants, many are evergreen year round and almost maintenance free! Best of all, they have the most beautiful flowers shaped like bells. Heaths and Heathers have a wide variety of shrubs available, some bloom in Spring, some in Summer and some in Fall & Winter. Heaths and Heathers can bloom for months at a time! There are also varieties that have spectacular leaf colors in Spring or Winter. It is very important to find a Heath or Heather that will tolerate your planting zone, and the best way to find this out is to visit the two excellent sources for Heaths & Heathers listed below.

Heaths and Heathers are great for borders, as a groundcover and in a rock garden. There are usually two types of shrubs, low growing (which tend to be bushier) and upright. They grow from as small as 6-8 inches up to 2 feet tall, and as wide. The flower colors and bloom time varies, as does the ability to thrive in temperature zones. The flower colors range from pink to lavendar to red. Some plants have double flowers.

It is very important to keep your Heaths and Heathers watered for the first year, water weekly or more if needed but do not waterlog them. If they dry out the first year they will die. They have fine roots that can be damaged easily. Once your plant has finished the first year they should be "established" or as I like to say, like where they're planted! The shrubs are drought tolerant which means you don't have to water them often, but I water them weekly. A good way to get your Heaths & Heathers through the first Winter is to use mulch around the base or stem of the plant, which helps protect it from cold weather and holds in moisture. You can remove the mulch after the last frost of Spring, but I leave mine around the plant and they seem to like it!


A good rule of thumb is to give your plants a trimming right after they bloom. You may want to wait if it is a cold area and trim them before Easter, be sure to ask the nursery or company you order them from! You want to trim down to the base of old flowers or woody parts...that's because Heathers grow on new wood, and the pruning helps them grow even better. Now Heaths, you don't even have to trim them they just keep growing! If you don't trim your Heathers, chances are they will look a little funny and not flower as much, so be sure to give them an annual trim.

Fertilizing and Soil

Heaths and Heathers really don't need fertilizer, but if you would like to add some you can use a granular kind that most Azaleas and Rhododendrons use and scratch in a little away from the base of the plant...follow the directions carefully. You may want to have someone help you do this. These shrubs like an acid well-drained soil and are very hardy. They aren't fussy about fancy soil, just make sure the water drains down and away from the plants.


Heaths and Heathers require full sun. Try to plant them where there is some kind of wind protection. The shrubs that have green leaves throughout the year are less fragile and a good choice for beginners. Heaths and Heathers Nursery is the mail order company I purchased my first four from, and they are all thriving and look great after the second year!

Heaths & Heathers need lots of sun!

Great Resources for Heaths & Heathers:

Heath and Heathers Nursery

Sun Drawing