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Firefly Scotch Heather

Calluna vulgaris ‘Firefly'

Firefly Scotch Heather

Calluna vulgaris ‘Firefly'

This product is currently out of stock and unavailable.

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How are the heights measured?

All tree, and nothin' but the tree! We measure from the top of the soil to the top of the tree; the height of the container or the root system is never included in our measurements.

What is a gallon container?

Nursery containers come in a variety of different sizes, and old-school nursery slang has stuck. While the industry-standard terminology is to call the sizes "Gallon Containers", that doesn't exactly translate to the traditional liquid "gallon" size we think of. You'll find we carry young 1-gallons, up to more mature 7-gallons ranging anywhere from 6 inches to 6ft.

How does the delivery process work?

All of our orders ship via FedEx Ground! Once your order is placed online, our magic elves get right to work picking, staging, boxing and shipping your trees. Orders typically ship out within 2 business days. You will receive email notifications along the way on the progress of your order, as well as tracking information to track your plants all the way to their new home!

Why are some states excluded from shipping?

The short & sweet answer is: "United States Department of Agriculture Restrictions." Every state has their own unique USDA restrictions on which plants they allow to come into their state. While we wish we could serve everyone, it's for the safety of native species and helps prevent the spread of invasive disease & pests. We've gotta protect good ole' Mother Nature, after all.

About Me

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Firefly Scotch Heather forms a low mound of upright stems, reaching about 18 inches tall and 2 feet or more across. The tiny leaves all along the stems begin yellow in spring, turning chartreuse with apricot and salmon overtones in summer. In fall it turns terracotta, finally becoming fiery brick-red for the winter months. In late summer and into fall it produces lilac-pink flowers that attract bees and butterflies, making this plant an incredible color-addition to your garden. It is perfect for poor, sandy and acidic soils, making an excellent groundcover, or for growing on slopes, retaining walls, among rocks and even in planters.

  • A magnificent groundcover for foliage color
  • Yellow flushed with apricot and salmon from spring to late summer
  • Terracotta turning fierce brick-red in fall and through winter
  • Lilac-pink flowers in late summer and into fall
  • Ideal for poor, acidic and sandy soils

Plant your Firefly Scotch Heather in full sun to enjoy the strongest foliage colors, but it will also grow in a little partial shade. It grows in poor sandy soils, but only in acidic soil, so don’t plant in alkaline ground. If you don’t have suitable soil it is a great container plant. Once established it tolerates drought and takes salt-spray too. Deer, pests, and diseases normally leave this tough and reliable plant alone. A simple trim in early spring is all the annual care it needs.

Plant Hardiness Zones 5-8
Mature Width 1-2
Mature Height 1-1.5
Soil Conditions Adaptable
Sunlight Full Sun to Partial Shade
Drought Tolerance Good Drought Tolerance
Zones 5-8

It’s hard to believe that such a small plant as the Firefly Scotch Heather could deliver so much color to your garden, but believe us, this is a plant that really delivers. Perhaps it should be called ‘Flamboyant’, so varied are the colors you will see as the seasons roll around. In spring the new growth is a bright and cheerful golden yellow to lime green, and depending on your climate this may hold through much of the summer. At some point, and certainly by early fall, shades of apricot and salmon begin to creep in, spreading across the branches. These become light terracotta, and once winter sets it they explode into fiery brick red, lasting all the way through to spring. Let’s not forget the flowers, which appear from July to September along the upper part of the branches. These are purple-pink, making a striking contrast with the foliage. An ideal groundcover for poor dry and sandy soils, even near the ocean, the unique look of this plant makes it the answer to your garden problems.

Growing Firefly Scotch Heather

Size and Appearance

Firefly Scotch Heather is a low clump of ascending and spreading branches, rising to about 18 inches tall and spreading at least 2 feet wide, and 3 or even 4 feet across in time. It has many slender branches covered in tiny scale-like leaves that are yellow on new growth, turning lime or chartreuse green. It isn’t long, though, before shades of apricot and salmon start to spread across the leaves, making every day a little different, and intensifying as fall approaches. With the arrival of cooler nights the leaves become more terracotta in tone, and by winter they are glowing, fiery brick-red. That color holds all through winter, making this plant one of the best choices for winter color in your garden.

All that color is boosted even further by the arrival of the flowers. These small tubular to bell-shaped blooms have four petals and grow all along the upper parts of the stems. They are a deep lilac-pink, creating a vibrant contrast with the yellow and orange tones of the foliage. Flowering usually begins in August and continues to the end of September, with the flowers holding even after they are dead. Scotch heather is one of those plants whose flowers hold their color when dried, so cut some stems and hang them upside down to dry, then use them indoors during winter.

Using Firefly Scotch Heather in Your Garden

You can grow the Firefly Scotch Heather as a groundcover in open sunny parts of the garden, on slopes and among rocks. It can be used at beach-front cottages. For mass planting space plants 15 to 18 inches apart and they will form a continuous covering within a short time. Individual plants look great in the levels of retaining walls, and also at the edge of beds fronting a lawn. Grow it among other small shrubs, or with other plants from similar ecology, such as dwarf pines, junipers, catmint and flowering sages. If you don’t have suitable soil, plant it in a pot or container, using soil for acid-loving plants, and place it on a terrace or in a cool porch for the winter.

Hardiness

The Firefly Scotch Heather will grow well all the way from zone 5 to zone 8, doing best in areas with cooler summers.

Sun Exposure and Soil Conditions

You will see the best foliage colors when you grow your Firefly Scotch Heather in full sun, but it will tolerate a little partial shade as well. It must be grown in acidic soil, with a pH no more than 6.5, and it enjoys acid soils all the way down to 5.0. Don’t plant in alkaline soil – grow it in a pot instead. The soil should be well-drained and sandy soils are preferred, even poor, low-nutrient soils, for which it is a great choice. Once established it has good resistance to drought, although an occasional thorough watering during extended dry spells is always welcome. It is also resistant to salt-spray, so it thrives near the ocean.

Maintenance and Pruning

Very little attention is needed to grow the Firefly Scotch Heather well, once it is established. It is usually free of pests and diseases, and left alone by deer. The only care we advise is to trim it in early spring, removing all but the last inch of the flowering stems from the previous season. Hedge trimmers can be used on group plantings to do this. New growth will soon return, keeping your plants attractive and bushy.

History and Origin of Firefly Scotch Heather

Also called Ling, the Scotch (or Scots) heather, Calluna vulgaris grows wild in open areas on hilltops and mountain slopes, especially in poor, sandy soils and areas that have been overgrazed. Sheep and cattle won’t eat it, so it can become the only plant left standing. The name Calluna is from Greek, meaning ‘sweeps clean’, because this plant has been traditionally used for making brooms. About 500 varieties have been developed over the years, mostly in Europe and the UK, but we know very little about the origins of most of them, except that they were probably found as unusual seedlings. The variety called ‘Firefly’ is widely seen as one of the most colorful of them all.

Buying Firefly Scotch Heather at the Tree Center

If you garden on poor, sandy, acid soil then you know how hard it can be to grow plants well. The Firefly Scotch Heather is nature’s gift to such a garden, because it loves what so many plants hate. For toughness it can’t be beaten, so order now, while our limited supply lasts – it won’t be for long.

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Firefly Scotch Heather

Calluna vulgaris ‘Firefly'