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Growing Heath and Heather for Year Round Color

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AUGUST 2016

Are you wondering which heath or heather will be your best choices to give you color, either flower or foliage, all year round? Here are our suggestions.

 

Obviously the heather garden shown above is much more than most people have room for, but it does give one some ideas of the color combinations that can be achieved if certain cultivars are selected. To give you a list of varieties that you can choose for color, either foliage or flower, every month of the year, I will start with January.

 

 

Erica x darleyensis 'Margaret Porter'

This heath will be in full bloom in January, and will continue into early spring. The lilac flowers are big and fluffy and really stand out.  Another bonus is the bright creamy tips in mid spring after flowering has completed.

Erica 'Margaret Porter'

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Erica x darleyensis 'Jack H. Brummage

This cultivar is grown for its year-round bright yellow foliage. It is especially useful to contrast against dark green plants, brightening up dark areas in the landscape. The flowers are less noticed in the winter months.

 

Calluna vulgaris 'Wickwar Flame'

Really Orange in mid-winter, this heather looks great against blue conifers or other dark colored foliage. Almost as richly colored as flowers, the foliage glows for months. Lavender flowers do appear in August.

For March and April, you may want to have colorful flowers and foliage, as seen on these two heaths. Erica carnea 'King George' livens up the late winter garden with soft pink flowers on a low and spreading mounder. Erica carnea 'Ann Sparks', on the other hand, has rich red-orange foliage to add contrast. The two together are a wonderful combination.

Erica carnea 'Porter's Red'

Rich dark pink flowers cover this late winter blooming heath. Plant in mass for a great effect. Combines well with other winter blooming heath.

 

Calluna vulgaris 'Pat's Gold'

This flat ground-hugger heather will have orange highlights on bright gold foliage. As spring approaches the orange tips will go back to gold, but this striking coloration lasts all winter. The pink flowers come out in August.

May and June will bring the brightly colored spring tips of certain Erica and Calluna, while also starting the long blooming season of the Daboecia. The varieties with the bright spring tips have two displays, one in spring and the other in summer. The Daboecia will bloom from May until November.

 

Daboecia cantibrica 'Polofolia'

Large purple flowers cover this plant from mid spring until late fall. These plants grow larger than most of the Calluna or Erica, but will stay dense and have very dark shiny green leaves. By dead heading the spent flowers in early summer, you will receive another full bloom in late fall.

 

Daboecia cantibrica 'Arielle'

Rich red flowers decorate this Daboecia all spring and into summer. Dark green foliage adds to its value, with little care required other than an occasional pruning to shape. Somewhat drought tolerant.

July and August is the beginning of the heath and heather flower show. All of the Calluna vulgaris will start in July and go through August, some earlier, some later. The flowers range from pink to lavender, mauve and crimson, amethyst and white. Most will be mounded cushions of color. Several Erica varieties will be blooming now as well. Most Erica cinerea with purple and pink flowers make their entrance in July and August. The Erica vagens are also very showy with their 'bottle brush' type flowers, covering the entire plant to the exclusion of the foliage. Needless to say, this is the peak of the heath and heather show, so plant in areas you want to be most visible this time of year. 

 

Calluna vulgaris 'Dark Beauty'

Semi-double deep cerise flowers cover this compact heather from August through October. The flowers deepen to a ruby as the flowering time goes on. It has nice dark green foliage. Found as a sport on C.v.'Darkness'. Certainly one of the best cultivars to be introduced in recent times, gaining a Gold Medal in Boskoop, Holland in 1990. Also a winner of the Award of Garden Merit trophy.

 

Erica cinerea 'Lime Soda'

Bright lime green foliage is attractive all year long, but especially in summer into fall when the soft lavender flowers cover the plant. We think this will become more popular as it is more widely grown. Winner of the Award of Garden Merit trophy. Choice!

 

Calluna vulgaris 'White Lawn'

Growing flat on the ground, here is the heather you have been looking for! The clear green foliage creeps along the ground, making a nice lawn that covers itself with white flowers from August through September. A very distinctive plant and well worth finding a spot in your garden or rockery. Distinctive. Winner of the Award of Garden Merit trophy.

 

Erica cinerea 'P.S. Patrick'

Excellent purple flowers cover this fine foliage Erica from summer into the fall. The foliage is a rich dark green on a plant with an upright habit. Recommended. Found in Dorset by P.S. Patrick when an employee of Maxwell & Beale. He later became an author of one of the standard textbooks on heathers.

 

Erica cinerea 'Golden Drop'

A fine textured heath that has rich yellow-orange foliage with darker reddish-orange tips most of the year. In the summer the purple flowers add yet more color. Looks stunning when planted near blue or dark green foliage plants.

 

Erica vagens 'Birch Glow'

Here is an excellent mounding heath that will take harsher environments than most. The plant will make a tight mound 24"-30" across and 8"-10" tall over time. The rose-pink flowers completely cover the plant in the summer months of July through September, and are like little 'bottle brushes'. Very showy. In the winter, the foliage develops reddish tips that are very distinctive.

September and October will see less flowers, although there are still some Calluna varieties and a few Ericas that will extend the color into these months.

 

Calluna vulgaris 'Roswitha'

This bud-bloomer, which has no real petals or stamins, flowers for a very long time...September through January. The flower buds are a deep lilac red rose color. The foliage is a dark green and the plant habit is broad and upright.

 

Calluna vulgaris 'Kinlochruel'

Wonderful pure white, double flowers brighten up the garden from August through October on this excellent performing heather. The foliage is a bright green color most of the year, but turns bronze in winter, adding to the interest. Spectacular plant, certainly one the best widely available double whites. Found by Brig. E. J. Montgomery at Kinlochruel, Colintraine, Argyll, Scotland as a sport on 'County Wicklow'. Winner of the Award of Garden Merit trophy.

 

Erica x griffithsii 'Valerie Griffiths'

Really bright lemon-yellow foliage is why this heath is grown. The pale pink flowers add some color in late summer, but with the intensity of the foliage, it becomes one of the most noticed plants in the gardens. It is sheared to keep the nice mounded shape, and is combined with plants of contrasting foliage like in this photo, near Berberis thunbergii 'Helmond Pillar'. Colorful all year round, but especially nice in September and October.

 

Calluna vulgaris 'Goldsworth Crimson'

Long racemes of crimson flowers cover this upright-spreading heather from September through November. It has very dark green foliage. Needs good shearing after the bloom. Named after the nursery which introduced it.

Erica x darleyensis 'Darleydale'

Erica x darleyensis 'Darley Dale', also know as 'Mediterannean Pink', makes a nice low shrub that blooms in late fall and into winter. Typically in bloom around the Christmas holidays in mild climates makes 'Darley Dale' a real favorite. Add this plant to your garden for color when little else is in bloom. 

 

Erica x darleyensis 'Kramer's Rote'

'Rote' meaning red in German, this excellent heath will bloom from October all the way until March. The flowers are a dark pink, but in the heather circles...pretty close to red. The foliage on this variety is a dark-green and will make a compact mound.

 

Erica erigena 'Irish Dusk'

Salmon  buds opening to clear rose pink  flowers, November-May, with dark gray green foliage.  Neat compact habit 24" tall x 20" wide.  Our favorite winter bloomer. One of the larger growing heaths.

 

8 year old plants in the garden below

 

Calluna vulgaris 'Old Gold'

Rich reddish gold foliage is spectacular in November and December. Really screaming orange would be the best description. Wow! This one is so great as a contrast plant against plants with darker foliage colors.

The List:

January - February

Firefly

Margaret Porter

Wickwar Flame

Jack H. Brummage

March - April

Ann Sparks

King George

Porter's Red

Pat's Gold

May - June

Irish Orange

Spring Torch

Irish Lemon

Easter Bonfire

Polofolia

Arielle

July - August

Dark Beauty

Lime Soda

White Lawn

P.S. Patrick

Golden Drop

Birch Glow

September - October

Roswitha

Kinlochruel

Valerie Griffiths

November - December

Darleydale

Kramer's Rote

Irish Dusk

Old Gold

 

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