Cultivate heather — tips and interesting facts about Calluna vulgaris

Cultivate heather — tips and interesting facts about Calluna vulgaris

Calluna is also known as common heather or summer heather and is very popular as an easy-care balcony and garden plant, especially in late summer and autumn. With more than 850 species, the heather family (Ericaceae) is diverse in terms of growth, flowering time, flower color and winter hardiness. Elaborate breeding work keeps creating new varieties for domestic gardens. The category is available from mini to XXL solitaire. Calluna vulgaris, known as bud heather, is closely related to Erica and is often wrongly referred to as such. This group convinces with an earlier flowering period and a large variety. As a characteristic plant of the European moor landscape, the heather characterizes entire areas. The genus can often be found in the sparse forests of the Lüneburg Heath. Here she is at home hardy and always fascinating during the flowering period. Even without pruning, the easy-care plants grow round and harmoniously and fit into any arrangement. Buy heather now and select the most beautiful varieties in our online shop.

Useful information Location Planting Care Watering Fertilizing Overwintering In buckets Species Pests & Diseases FAQ

Interesting facts about common heather and the heather flowering period

Botanical name: Calluna vulgaris Other names: bud heather, broom heather, summer heather, heather Use: window boxes, baskets, bowls and pots, ground cover, heather gardens, grass gardens, grave planting, embankment planting, flower decoration Origin: North and Central America (cool locations up to an altitude of 2000 meters ) Flowering time: from July to December depending on the variety Flower colours: red, violet, pink, white Leaves: needle-shaped, grey, silvery or green depending on the variety Special features:

As an evergreen shrub with little growth and scale-like leaves, the bud heather is an easy-care plant in the bed for many years. The most important prerequisite for this is a sunny and warm location with sandy, humus-rich soil that should have a pH of 4 to 5. For seasonal planting in balcony boxes or beds, the soil conditions are not so important. Bud heather is a special form of common heather. Their advantage is the special flower shape, which stays in the same stage on the dwarf tree for a long time and is therefore decorative without being trimmed or falling off. The structured varieties are particularly attractive, as they set special accents with their eye-catching foliage color, but these have no flowers. Common heather is hardy, easy to care for and decorative for many months.

In which location does the hardy common heather feel most comfortable?

As a seasonal plant, you can place or plant the bud heather in full sun or in a shady spot. You can find the right planters outside with us. For long-term enjoyment as a garden plant, the ideal location is a sunny to semi-shady spot. Otherwise, if the conditions are too shady, the abundance of flowers will decrease in the second or third year and the plant will develop weaker.. In direct sunlight, it can also be more of a moist soil to avoid drying out. When planting in the garden, it is important that the location is sandy-humus and has a pH of 4 to 5. Like many other plants, the hardy Calluna vulgaris reacts very sensitively to strong soil compaction and waterlogging is not tolerated. Calcareous soil or locations with a high proportion of clay are absolutely unsuitable without soil preparation. Common heather is hardy but is often replaced by colorful spring flowers after winter.

What is the best way to plant my hardy Calluna vulgaris in the garden?

Plant heathers in the garden or cemetery in late summer and autumn. The soil should be well loosened and free of root weeds before planting. For heavy soils, make sure there is a drainage layer with sand and gravel. Water hardy Calluna vulgaris deeply before planting. To do this, place the plant with the pot in a bucket filled with water and wait until no more air bubbles rise. The planting hole should be 15 to 18 cm deep and correspondingly wide. When planting, first put rhododendron soil in the planting hole and then the hardy heather without a pot. Fill the gap with a mixture of potting soil and excavation, making sure the edge of the pot is level with the ground. Finally, press the root ball of the hardy heather well with your hands and water the new planting with 2 to 3 liters. You can buy plants online from us.

Our gardening tip: You can achieve the typical character of a heathland by planting extensively. Put at least 3 specimens of a variety together and leave some space in between for development. We recommend 9 to 12 pieces per square meter. In addition to Calluna vulgaris, you can plant various heather species, snow heather, grasses, structural plants and woody plants such as juniper. This gives you an area that looks attractive and well-groomed all year round. The flowers of the heather plants serve as pasture for the bees and give the heather honey its unique, strong aroma.

How do I properly care for the hardy heather and things worth knowing about Calluna vulgaris — cutting common heather

Common heather is an absolutely easy-care plant. Pruning back in the spring is beneficial for the small shrub, so the hardy heather becomes bushy and you avoid excessive woodiness. Here you cut off about half of last year’s growth on the hardy common heather. It is important that Calluna vulgaris is not cut back too late in the year and not too deep. If you cut too deeply into the old wood, new growth is greatly reduced. By pruning, however, the hardy heathers remain compact and willing to flower. The first fertilization is recommended immediately after cutting back the Calluna vulgaris. If possible, use a special fertilizer for ericaceous plants to fertilize the hardy heather. It is beneficial for the development of the heath all year round when the soil is evenly moist. Long dry phases damage the development and the willingness to flower. Dry soil can delay heather flowering. In the optimal location, the slow-growing Calluna can become very old and delight with rich flowers year after year. It is important that you cut the common heather.

Planted in the window box or in containers, the hardy heather is cared for in the same way, but watering is necessary more often. Calluna vulgaris is mostly used as seasonal planting in balcony boxes. In this case, there is no need to cut the common heather.

How do I water hardy heather properly?

Heather is hardy and quite undemanding once planted out in the garden. Needs-based watering is important in the first year after planting. This means that additional watering is required during phases without precipitation, especially on sandy soils. Depending on the temperature and soil conditions, the amount of water and the frequency of watering vary. However, always water depending on rainfall and temperature. If the heather is rooted in the ground, watering is only necessary in phases of extreme drought. Due to the light soil, additional watering may also be necessary in winter. Heathers in boxes and pots require a little more maintenance but are also hardy garden plants.

Our gardening tip: Watering is necessary as soon as the top layer of soil has dried. With Calluna, avoid dry balls and waterlogging. If the common heather in the pot is too dry, we recommend placing the plant in a bucket filled with water. This is the only way to optimally supply the hardy heather with water again.

How do I fertilize the heather properly?

If you used high-quality rhododendron soil when planting, fertilization is only necessary in the coming year. Use rhododendron fertilizer for this, it is physiologically acidic and contains all the necessary nutrients and trace elements. The first fertilization takes place in April/May and a second in July/August. Dose the fertilizer according to the instructions on the package and make sure that the soil is sufficiently moist and does not dry out in the next 1 to 2 weeks.

How do I overwinter my common heather properly?

Common heather is hardy and tolerates low temperatures. Special protection is not necessary, but some brushwood can be placed on the plants. Damage that is visible in spring is often attributed to winter, but it is often the result of drying out during the winter. In phases of long drought, watering may be necessary on frost-free days, because the evergreen plants need more moisture in winter than trees without leaves.

What is the best way to plant the heather in a container?

Atmospheric containers can be planted quickly and easily with heather in autumn. Depending on your preference, you can only equip baskets, pots and window boxes with heather or you can combine the robust plants with grasses, gentian, chrysanthemums, sedum, Christmas roses, ivy, barbed wire, silver leaf, horned violets and much more. This creates either colorful and diverse combinations or classic tone-in-tone arrangements. When planting in containers, it is important that there is a water drain here as well and that there is no waterlogging. Containers without holes are not so well suited for planting. Use a high-quality and structurally stable potting soil for seasonal containers. Attention: Calluna vulgaris in the pot must never dry out completely. Ensure an even water supply. If necessary, you can place the hardy heather in a bucket filled with water to ensure that the root ball is completely moist. Then position the heather in such a way that the excess water can drain off. With us you will find planters outside.

Our gardening tip: If Calluna vulgaris is only planted as a decorative autumn and winter ornament and serves as a balcony plant, any potting soil can be used. You should only use special rhododendron soil (acidic soil) when planting in the garden.

What species are there in the genus Calluna?

In the group there are a large number of cultivars with different flower colors and flowering times. A further distinction can be made according to the shape of the flower. In addition to the simple and the double flower shape, there is the so-called bud heather. With this special feature, the flowers remain in the bud stage, never bloom and therefore cannot wither. This means a long-lasting intense flower color and abundance. The attractiveness is maintained even in temperatures below freezing. Bud heather is available in all classic heather colors and various sizes. The term bud heather is important.

There is also common heather planted in different colors in a pot. Even as a single plant, these duos or trios create a colorful atmosphere.

As structural plants, there is a multitude of deciduous beauties in the range of heather plants. These please with dark green, almost black or bright yellow foliage and set unique accents in mixed plantings. Some of these special varieties have no flowers and turn into beautiful autumn colors. Depending on the season, the availability of the individual species in the garden center and online shop varies. Bell heather blooms as early as summer, followed by blooming common heather, which starts in September and lasts well into late autumn.

flower shape simple

flower shape filled

Bud heather
Our gardening tip: The group of bud heathers does not need to be trimmed and does not shed any buds. So it is a group of plants that brings a lot of joy and little effort.

What pests and diseases can common heather get?

Calluna vulgaris are robust garden plants and, with optimal care, are not very susceptible to diseases and pests. A possible problem of the hardy common heather can be:

gray mold

In unfavorable weather or weakened plants, gray mold (Botrytis) can occur on hardy heather. The plants have a grayish-brown mycelium. Cut back the affected plants, dispose of the affected plant parts with the household waste and treat the plant with bio-active agents.

FAQ — Frequently asked questions about common heather

Which plants are suitable for combining with heather?

All plants that prefer a sunny location and do not grow too tall are ideal. Grasses, partridge berries, Christmas roses, heather rosemary, Erica gracilis, chrysanthemums, purple bells, barbed wire, horned violets, ivy, silver leaf and much more are suitable for seasonal decoration in balcony boxes and containers. Other types of heather, grasses, juniper and all types of sun-loving flower bulbs are suitable for planting out in the garden.

What is the difference between summer heath and winter heath?

The group of common heather Calluna vulgaris is called summer heath. Depending on the variety, the plants flower from summer to the end of November. Winter heath (Erica carnea) is the group of Erica species. Depending on the variety, this has a flowering time from November to March and is permanent in your own garden. It is important that the dwarf shrubs are lime-free, that the soil is not too poor in nutrients and that you cut back in spring after flowering. The new shoots are soft green and decorative throughout the summer. Both are frost hardy.

Is there a symbolism for Calluna?

Calluna is associated with the symbol of home. In addition, the robust plant species stands for feeling or loneliness. The latter is probably due to the lonely courtyards that were surrounded by heather plants. The term Calluna derives from the Greek word kallyno, which means «I clean, sweep». The woody herb probably served as a broom a long time ago.

Why isn’t the heather blooming?

Missing flowers on the hardy common heather can be a result of excessive pruning, a shady location or a lack of soil moisture. Be sure to cut the heather right after winter. A late cut can lead to the lack of flowers. Basically, the flowering time of heather depends on the species and location.

Can you propagate heather yourself?

Heather plants can be easily propagated by cuttings. Rooting works best on top cuttings that have not yet flowered. Use sharp scissors to cut off the 5 cm shoots only from healthy plants. Cuttings root optimally in seed trays or in a seed set with a transparent cover. After 3 to 4 weeks the first roots of the hardy common heather have formed. The young Valluna vulgaris plants can be repotted in pots with substrate and a new shoot will follow. Attention, propagation of Calluna vulgaris licensed varieties is not permitted.

What is meant by the term heath?

In addition to the dwarf shrub itself, areas that are predominantly overgrown with heather are referred to as heather. There are also isolated junipers, pines and grasses. These valuable heathlands are often nature reserves and therefore natural habitats for special birds.

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Heather plants — the splash of color in autumn

Find out how you can conjure up a beautiful decoration for the house and garden from the autumn classic. With just a few simple steps, the broom heather can be turned into an eye-catcher.

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