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Heather

Calluna vulgaris

Heather

Calluna vulgaris

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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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Heather is a beautiful small evergreen shrub, forming a broad mat of fine branches, between 2 and 3 feet tall and wide. The fine, needle-like leaves cling to the wiry stems, and from July into September all the upper parts of the stems are covered in thousands of small, bell-shaped flowers that are a beautiful smokey purple. They create a purple haze across the beds, just as they do in their native countries, such as Scotland, where this plant is iconic, growing on moors and heaths. Use it as a ground-cover on poor soils, and for the sunny areas in a garden of acid-loving plants.

  • The classic plant beloved by Scottish people
  • Glows with purple blooms from July to September
  • Excellent ground-cover for gardens of acid-loving plants
  • Grows well in poor soils, like acid sands
  • Highly resistant to deer

Full sun or partial shade are ideal for growing Heather, which thrives in acid, sandy or well-drained soils, including soils very low in nutrients. It grows best in cooler zones, and enjoys a steady supply of water. It is generally pest and disease free and almost guaranteed not to be eaten by deer. It is also generally not bothered much by rabbits. A simple trim in late fall or early winter, cutting back to just below the dead flowers, is all the attention it needs.

Plant Hardiness Zones 4-6
Mature Width 2-3
Mature Height 2-3
Zones 4-6

With its ‘fragrant hills of purple heather’, Scotland is the country most linked to the iconic plant called Heather. Growing on heaths, moors and high ground, we might think of it as a plant of the wild, but no – Heather is also a fascinating and beautiful plant to grow in a garden setting, and a great way to deal with areas of poor soil. Tough as nails and able to grow in exposed places, it is also a valuable plant for sunny areas with acid-loving plants – many of which prefer the shadier spots. Heather becomes a bush around 2 feet tall, with many wiry stems forming a broad mound. It’s a plant of cooler areas and grows best in zone 5, but also in zones 4 and 6. The slender spikes of purple flowers in summer create a unique look, like no other shrub, and are very attractive to bees, producing a distinctive type of honey. You’ll be glad you chose to grow Heather, when you see the glowing haze of color it produces, it’s so evocative and appealing.

Growing Heather

Size and Appearance

Heather is a small evergreen shrub forming a clump of thin, wiry stems in a broad mound. It typically grows 18 to 30 inches tall and wide, forming a dense, ground-covering mat. The minute leaves cling closely to the stems, almost like scales, creating an open look that is very distinctive. Flowers form at the ends of the branches, from July to September, adding attractive color at a time when flowers are fewer. The small, bell-like blossoms cluster along one side of the stem, forming a long spike of color almost to the ground. The incredible profusion of the blooms makes up for their small size. They are colored purple-pink, a warm glowing shade that is visible from a considerable distance. The combination of small flowers and thin stems, produced in such quantity, gives a unique hazy effect to plantings of this shrub. Flowers are followed through winter by small brown seed pods that add winter interest.

Using Heather in Your Garden

Heather is a great plant for filling sunny areas where the soil is poor. It is also excellent for foreground planting in shrub beds, or filling pockets of earth in rocky places. It also makes an attractive and different plant for planters and window boxes, where its long flowering season is incredibly valuable when working in small spaces.

Hardiness

Very cold-resistant, Heather will grow in zone 4 and very well in zone 5, and in zone 6. It does not like hot summers, preferring areas that are consistently cool.

Sun Exposure and Soil Conditions

Full sun or a little partial shade are ideal for growing Heather well, with a profusion of blooms. If you are growing in a hotter area, some afternoon shade can be helpful. Heather is able to grow in very poor soils, including sandy soils, as long as they are not dry. It also needs acidic soils, with a pH value between 4.5 and 5.5. It grows in similar conditions to other acid-loving plants like azaleas, but it doesn’t need the rich soi that they do.

Maintenance and Pruning

This tough plant is rarely bothered by pests or diseases and it is one of the most deer-resistant plants you can find. Rabbits don’t either, but they might take a nibble or two. Trim bushes in late fall if you don’t like the dead flowers in winter, or in early spring if you do. Don’t trim later, as that will reduce flowering. Cut back to just below the old flowers. Water regularly during summer, as Heather doesn’t like to be dry for too long. Fertilizer is not needed, and not recommended.

History and Origin of Heather

Heather, Calluna vulgaris, is an important part of heathland and moorland ecosystems in Europe and the Middle East, typically found growing in areas of poor, acid soils. It is typically the result of centuries of overgrazing, since it can be grazed by sheep and cattle, but it regenerates, unlike many other plants. It is also resistant to fire, and it is sometimes deliberately burned to manage those unique environments. It has strong cultural associations with Scotland, and there it has been used since the Middle Ages as a substitute for hops in making beer and ale. It was once used for dying wool and tanning leather. It has also been widely used for brooms for millennia – its name Calluna is from the Greek Kallyno, which means to ‘beautify by sweeping clean’. It has also been a popular garden plant for a long time, with many different color forms, but the wild purple color is still the most popular.

Buying Heather at the Tree Center

This unique plant is a great compliment and ground-cover for gardens of acid-loving plants, as well as a way to brighten poor soils. It is not often available, so order now – especially if you have Scottish heritage, or even if you don’t! Since it is used for ground-cover, some of our customers buy many plants, so our stock quickly runs out – order now.

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Heather

Calluna vulgaris