Heather plants are hardy, colorful, low-growing perennial shrubs native to the heaths, moors, and woodlands or Europe and Asia Minor. Well suited to marginal pastures, heathers are low-maintenance plants that can thrive in acidic soil with little fertilizer in and near-drought conditions.
The evergreen plants provide year-round displays of color from flowers and leaves. Depending on the type of heather plant, the flowers bloom between July and November and come in pink, lavender, white, magenta, amethyst, purple and red. If a gardener plans it right, a field full of different types of heather will remain colorful for a longtime, with new plants blooming just when others begin to fade.
Just as important as flower color is the foliage color, which can be found in pink, red, copper, bronze, gold, silvery gray, and every shade of green imaginable. They keep their color though the winter, breaking up the dreary tans and browns of winter landscapes.
CLIMATE: The colder, damper climates of the New England and the Pacific Northwest are well suited to growing heather, however, and gardeners in the northern Midwest, Great Plains, and Rocky Mountain areas should have fair success.
SOIL: The heather plant will do just fine in rocky soil, making them good candidates for coastal hillsides where few plants grow. Slightly acidic soil with a pH of 4.5 – 5.5 will work well for this plant.
SUN: As a general guideline, heather plants should get four to six hours of sunlight daily. So it is best to plant it in a place with enough sunlight throughout the year. The more sunshine this plant receives, the brighter are its leaves and flowers. Not enough sun will cause the plant to look leggy and dull.
SPACING: When you are ready to start growing a heather plant, consider the space a mature plant needs to fully develop. On average, these plants grow up to twenty inches tall and three feet wide.
PLANTING: The best time to plant the heather is in the spring or beginning of fall. Seed, division and cuttings can start new heather plants. If starting by cuttings, the best time to take them is in summer when the wood is half-ripe.
WATERING: After getting the plants into the ground, water them until the ground is moist. Follow this watering ritual twice a week for a few months. As with most plants, do not over water them. If the soil remains too wet the plant will suffer and possibly die.
The heather plant is hardy and resistant to insects, common diseases, and small burrowing rodents.