their summer-flowering counterparts, the winter flowering
Ericas (Heaths) are not too fussy about the type of soil
they are planted in. They will live quite happily in
alkaline (lime) soils, whereas the summer flowering types
will only thrive in an acid soil.
As can be
seen in the picture, they also make good ground covering
plants. There are also many fine coloured foliage types to
flowering types are mainly cultivars of Erica carnea or
Erica x darleyensis. (Erica vagans types will also thrive
in alkaline soil, but are summer flowering)
colours range from white through light pink, into deep
pinks reds and cerise or purple. Foliage types are also
important and can range from rich gold tinged with red ,
light yellow, silver and the normal range of greens and
flowering in the middle of winter can bring much needed
colour to the garden at this time of year. They are also
important as ground-covering and foliage effect plants.
A winter flowering heather
border - mainly Erica carnea types - with a Witch Hazel in
Pruning, Planting & Aftercare.
should be pruned immediately after flowering. This can be
carried out by lightly trimming with a pair of hedge
shears. Simply cut back the flowered stems. This ensures
compact bushy plants.
often be bought as small plants in 7cm square pots. It is
worth paying a little extra for larger plants. Allow at
least 45cm between plants, even if it does leave a soil
gap. They will need the room to spread, and normally start
spreading well during their second year after planting.
Although they are happy in alkaline soils, they respond
well to an annual dressing of moss peat. In the growing
season, water freely, and feed with a half-strength
solution of liquid feed monthly.
few pests or diseases, however, they can be susceptible to
various fungal attacks in warm wet weather. The main
culprit is Phytophtora - which rots the roots!
popular types - (there are many having different names,
that look so similar!)
Winter flowering heather respond well to watering during the dry
spring and summer months.. they are often thought of as being for dry
areas. Whilst this is true of some of the 'moorland' heathers, the
winter flowering types are best if kept moist with regular watering.
Propagation of Winter Flowering Heathers
Erica carnea types are normally propagated from cuttings. Late
summer is the easiest way, and cuttings are normally just a couple of
inches long - inserted into a peaty compost of vermiculite. Larger
cuttings taken earlier, also root well, but are slightly more difficult.
For just a few plants, division of established clumps can be an easy
option - best in early spring after flowering.
A very easy way to get extra plants, is to 'earth up' the plant in
situ - holding the foliage erect and scooping light compost in and
around the crown of the plant, then shaking it down. This will ensure
that many of the shoots will form roots at the base - so easy to remove
and grow on.
Larger plants bough as container grown specimens can be knocked out
of the container and often prised apart into several plants. The
rootball can even be cut through in several places with a sturdy, sharp,
knife if it is too difficult to separate by hand.
Some Erical carb=nea types that are worth growing.
White Erica carnea Springwood White - vigorous and
Erica carnea White Perfection - Pure white, bright
Erica darleyensis White Glow - compact and full of
Erica carnea Silberschmelze - Light foliage in spring,
deep green and bronze in autumn
Pink Erica x darleyensis Darleydale - Shell pink -
darkening with age.
Erica carnea December Red - Pink, turning darker with age.
Erica carnea Eileen Porter - Magenta pink
Erica carnea Springwood Pink - A good spreader, like its white cousin.
Red Erica carnea Vivelli - Bronze foliage with
deep magenta flowers.
Erica x darleyensis Kramers Red (Rote) - Bronze foliage Magenta flowers.
(There are many deep pinks)
Foliage Effect Erica carnea Foxhollow - Bronze tipped
yellow - turning red tips in winter.
Erica carnea Altadena - Yellow, tipped pink then bronze.
Erica carnea Ann Sparkes - Dark gold, bronze tips.
Erica carnea Golden Starlet - Lime green foliage turns yellow in summer.
Erica carnea Leslie Sparkes - Pink and gold tips in spring.
Erica x darleyensis Ghost Hills - Light green, tipped cream in spring