Jubilee Bank Holiday
Due to the Jubilee bank holiday, our last despatch date will be Tuesday the 31st of May and will resume again on Monday the 6th of June.
Web sales department open Monday – Friday between 8am – 4.30pm.
Our Staffordshire based garden centre will be open daily between 8am – 4.30pm.
When to Plant
Heather plants supplied in pots can be planted at any time of the year when the ground is not frozen or waterlogged.
Where to Plant
Heathers are best planted in beds totally devoted to themselves, except for the addition of a few conifers or small evergreen shrubs to provide contrast in height and form. Plant heathers in open areas, along pathways or up hillsides. They are suitable for coastal gardens as they will tolerate the salt spray and work well in rock gardens as they require similar acidic soil conditions to dwarf conifers. Avoid planting in dry sites, under trees or in areas exposed to harsh winter winds because, as evergreens, heathers will suffer dehydration. Heathers do not become drought tolerant immediately, so if your garden is very dry, they may not be the best choice.
Heathers need an acidic, preferably moist (but not soggy) soil. They are tolerant of very poor, rocky soil, but the acidity is important. If you have a neutral or alkaline soil, work in acidic soil amendments such as damp peat moss. Avoid the use of sedge peat or spent mushroom compost as these can be too alkaline. Yellow leaves are a sign that the pH of the soil lacks enough acidity for the plants. If you have a heavy clay soil, either double-dig the ground (to 2 spades' depth) and incorporate lots of peat or ericaceous compost mixed with one-third of sand or grit to improve drainage, or plant your heathers on a raised bed using an equal mix of compost, composted bark or peat moss and sand. This will create a free-draining, acidic soil. Soggy soil can lead to root and stem rot or fungal diseases.
A heather garden should be planted in a position where it will be unshaded for all or most of the day. If possible, site your heather plants so the main view is from the south, as foliage heathers always colour better on their southern side. Planting heathers where they will enjoy 6+ hours of sunlight each day is best for foliage effect, with afternoon shade in hotter areas. If they are given too much shade, the blooms will become scarce, foliage colour will be dulled and new growth spindly.
Spacing of heather plants is important to strike the right balance between allowing good air circulation between plants whilst also ensuring they are close enough for the growth of each plant to join up over time to provide complete ground coverage. A good trick is to multiply the square footage of your planting area by 0.44 to determine how many heather plants you need (e.g. for a 8 foot by 8 foot plot, you'll need 64 x 0.44 = 28 plants). If you work in metres not feet, plan on using 5 plants per square metre (4 per square yard), making allowances for other plants nearby that have not yet reached their mature spread. If planting heathers as part of a rock garden, use no more than 1 conifer or shrub per 5 square metres (50 square feet).
Loosen the soil before planting. Dig holes twice as wide as each plant's root ball to encourage roots to spread. After removing each heather plant from its pot, gently tease out the roots and spread them across the planting hole. Heathers like to be planted deeply with the lower foliage resting on the soil surface. The addition of a little non-burning fertiliser, mixed into the planting soil, will encourage new root growth. Mulch around the base of your heathers after planting using an acidic organic matter such as leaf mould, pine straw or peat moss.
Growing Heathers in Containers
If growing heathers in a container, use ericaceous compost and/or peat. Keeping the compost moist yet allowing for free drainage is key. We recommend installing a 2.5-5cm (1-2 inch) layer of grit at the base of your planting container to improve drainage. Consider mixing some water retaining gel into your compost to improve moisture retention. As for garden plantings, plant your heathers deep in the compost.
Initial Pruning and Watering
Shear newly planted heathers to foster a bushy growth habit. Water fortnightly for the first 3 months to keep the ground moist but not sodden.
Drought tolerance is normally established within 2-3 years from planting, after which time your heather plants will take care of themselves. Until this time, water as required to keep the soil evenly moist, but never soggy.
Weeding and Feeding
Make sure the heather border is kept weed-free. This is best done by hand rather than using a hoe as heathers are shallow rooted. Apply an annual mulch of bark, peat or ericaceous compost to help suppress weeds. Fertilise once with ericaceous plant food at planting time. Further feeding is not typically required thereafter, although if the bloom production is reduced or foliage turns pale, you can re-apply the ericaceous plant food from late winter to mid-spring.
Once a 'wave' of heather plants have become established and filled the gaps between them, they will act as an effective weed suppressant, so little weeding is typically required once the plants have become established.
In early spring (before any buds have set) shear off the top third of foliage growth from your heathers, removing any remaining dead flowers from the previous year as you do so. Removing old stems will encourage your heathers to develop fresh new growth, maintain a bushy habit and prevent them from becoming thin and woody. This way the plant is constantly renewed.
Heathers being sheared in early spring
Pests and Diseases
Heathers have few pests but can be susceptible to powdery mildew if they are planted too close together and air flow is impaired. The best way to tackle powdery mildew is with a fungus killer spray. Heathers can also be damaged by large animals such as dogs or deer trampling on them, so consider the planting spot carefully to keep them out of harms way.
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