Heather: planting and care in the open ground, types and varieties with photos
Herbaceous evergreen common heather (Calluna vulgaris) is the only species of the genus heather belonging to the heather family. Today, there are approximately 500 varieties of this plant, most of which have very high decorative qualities. Under natural conditions, the plant is found in Europe (spreads from the zone of coniferous-deciduous foxes to the tundra), in North Africa, Greenland, in the temperate latitudes of Asia, on the Azores, on the Atlantic coast of North America, while it prefers to grow on peat bogs, burnt places and forests. An old Scottish legend says that of all plants only heather agreed, at the Creator's request, to grow on rocky bare hills that are blown by all the winds, for which he was awarded unpretentiousness, endurance, good aroma and a charming appearance. And today in those places where heather grows, there is no other plant. Sometimes it occupies huge areas, which are called moorlands. Heather gave the name September in the Belarusian, Ukrainian and Polish languages, namely: heather, heather, wrzesien.
Heather is a highly branched evergreen creeping small shrub 30–70 centimeters high. Small sheet plates, which are trihedral, as if rolled into a tube. Small fragrant flowers that look similar to bells are painted in lilac pink. They are part of one-sided brushes. Flowering begins in the second half of the summer period, however, such a plant becomes most beautiful after the onset of the first frost, because its leaves at this time are painted in burgundy and yellow. Robert Lewis Stevenson wrote a whole ballad about heather "Heather Honey". Such a plant is an excellent honey plant, while heather honey is considered the most useful of all. Landscape designers use heather to decorate the Alpine hills, planted along paths in the garden, and use them to create borders that look very impressive against dwarf conifers.
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Growing heather from seeds
To grow heather from seeds, you need to be patient, because this process is quite long and difficult. However, it may please you that heather seeds have excellent germination, namely, 90 percent. The bowl needs to be filled with earth mixture and moistened. Spread the seeds on its surface, but do not need to deepen them. The container is covered with glass and waiting for seedlings. For sowing seeds, it is recommended to use a substrate consisting of sand, coniferous land and peat, which are taken in a ratio of 1: 1: 2. Crops need to be put in heat (about 20 degrees), while in the first 7 days the seeds need a high level of humidity. The appearance of the first sprouts occurs after 4 weeks. Immediately after the appearance of seedlings, they should begin hardening. For this, shelter should be opened for a while. After the seedlings grow greatly, they should be picked, they are planted in individual pots or transplanted into a container.
In the summer, seedlings should be moved to the garden and placed in a dark place, while it must be systematically watered. When it gets cold outside, the seedlings are transferred to a cool room (about 10-12 degrees).
Landing heather in a permanent place is possible only at the age of two. Remember that heather grown from seed is not able to preserve the signs of the mother plant. However, as a result of your labors, a completely new variety may be born.
Landing heather in the open ground
Where and at what time they land
Experienced gardeners recommend planting heather in the spring, namely, from the second half of April to the first days of May, you can do this in the fall - from late September to the first days of October. For planting, it is better to choose open, well-lit areas, but you can plant this plant in partial shade. Peaty moist soils or dry sandy ones are best suited for it. This flower cannot be planted in calcareous earth. It’s okay if the earth contains few nutrients, but the pH must be 4.5–5.5. Heather will grow best in soil consisting of sand, peat, compost of bark (coniferous land), which must be taken in a ratio of 1: 3: 2. The place where heather is grown should be protected from gusts of wind. To acidify the soil, it is necessary to introduce red horse peat into it.
How to plant
Depending on the variety, from 6 to 10 seedlings are planted on a plot of 1 square meter. The bush should be buried in the soil by 25–35 centimeters, while the root neck should be at the same level with the soil surface. If the clay soil in the planting hole, it is necessary to make a drainage layer consisting of sand or brick fragments, while its height should be from 5 to 10 centimeters. Also, in each hole you need to pour in horn flour (30-50 grams) and nitrophoski (20-30 grams). Planted heather is watered at the rate of 5-6 liters of water per 1 bush. The surface of the site must be sprinkled with a layer of mulch (softwood chips or peat). Remember that this plant is extremely poorly transplanted, so you need to immediately choose the best place to plant it and take good care of it so that you do not have to transplant it.
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The root system of heather is not long, so it should be regularly watered if systematic precipitation is not observed, and acidified water is used. Note that the soil surface on the site should be constantly slightly moistened. In this regard, the soil surface must be covered with a layer of mulch. Also, mulch does not allow the soil to get very hot on hot days. Heather is watered every 10-15 days. After the irrigation is done, you need to loosen the soil to a depth of 10 to 15 centimeters, while all weeds must be torn out. Loosen and weed the ground through the mulch. In sultry times, this plant may suffer from excessively dry air; in this regard, it is recommended to moisten it from the sprayer every evening. Do not forget to feed the plant every year in springtime (in April or May), while full mineral fertilizer is applied to the soil, 1.5–2 large tablespoons of fertilizing are taken for 1 bush (20 to 30 grams per square meter). At the same time, dry fertilizer must be carefully scattered around the site, try to prevent the substance from falling onto the foliage and flowers of the plant, otherwise a burn will form on their surface. After this, dressing should be repaired in mulch, and water the soil abundantly. Each spring, it is necessary to prune, which performs a formative function, and also stimulates the growth of young shoots. At the same time, intensive pruning can be done only when 3 years have passed since the moment the heather was planted. Try to keep the shape of the crown. Rule of cutting: the inflorescence with the left hand must be held by the upper part, and with the right - it is necessary to cut ½ or 2/3 of the inflorescence. The cut parts can be finely chopped and sprinkled on top of the mulch.
Pests and diseases
This plant is highly resistant to harmful insects and diseases, but is sometimes affected by viral or fungal diseases. Often heather gets sick with gray rot. The development of this disease can be caused by poor water permeability of the soil or due to the fact that in spring the snow cover decreases excessively quickly, as a result, the liquid stagnates in the root system.In an infected specimen, a plaque appears on the stems, then the leaves and shoots themselves die. To combat the disease, plant treatment with fungicidal agents is used, and Topaz and Fundazol cope with this disease best. If the bush is very affected, then treatment with a solution of copper sulfate (1%) will be required. It is necessary to process heather 3 times with interruptions of 5-10 days. For prevention purposes, the plant is treated with fungicides in spring immediately after shelter is removed from it. It is also necessary to spray the bushes in the fall during preparation for the winter.
If the bush is infected with powdery mildew, the young shoots begin to fade, and a whitish, loose coating appears on the leaf plates. If brown-red spots appear on the leaves, this means that the heather is infected with rust. These two diseases are fungal, like gray rot, so they are combated with fungicidal agents.
If the bush is struck by a viral disease, then its flowers or stems may become deformed, and the color of the flowers and leaves becomes uneven, it becomes uncharacteristic for this variety. This disease cannot be cured, in this regard, the affected plants must be dug up and destroyed. The area in which they grew must be watered with a very strong solution of manganese potassium.
In the event that the plant is grown on soil that suits him and receives the necessary care, then it is unlikely to get sick.
How to propagate this plant with seeds is described above. Even heather can be propagated by layering, dividing the bush or cuttings. At the end of the summer period, the apical cuttings need to be cut, while they are taken from the strongest flowering branches. For rooting, they are planted in pots filled with a mixture of peat and sand (3: 1). They need to be put in a cool place (from 15 to 18 degrees), while the soil should be constantly slightly moist. Once every 1.5–2 months, the cuttings need to be fertilized, for this they use a solution of urea (1 gram of water per 1 liter of water) or micronutrient fertilizers. In spring, rooted plants are transplanted into open soil.
Heather is often propagated by layering on its own. Over time, the old branches of heather lie on the surface of the soil and give roots. In order to get layering, it is necessary to bend, located at the very bottom, a mature stem and fix it on the surface of the earth. Then it is covered with a layer of peat, the thickness of which should be equal to 10 mm. After 12 months, it will be necessary to separate the layering and put it in a permanent place.
Heather is most simply and easily propagated by dividing the rhizome. This procedure is carried out at the end of the summer period. To do this, dig a mature bush. The soil does not need to be removed from the roots, they are cut into several parts so that on each of the divisions there are roots and a young shoot. Before planting a dividend, old stems should be cut. They are immediately planted in a permanent place in different pits, while do not forget to sprinkle the places of the slices with crushed coal.
Heather after flowering
In regions with a warm climate, this plant tolerates winter without shelter. But in the event that winters are severe and with little snow, heather is better prepared for wintering. When frosts occur, the surface of the site should be sprinkled with a layer of peat, and then cover the heather itself with spruce branches, which will protect the plants from frost and sunburn in the spring. It will be necessary to remove the shelter in April.
Main types and varieties with photos and names
Common Heather (Calluna vulgaris) - This is the only species in the family. Often consider heather Erica, which is closely related to this plant. However, heather and erica are different plants. The heather ordinary has a huge number of excellent varieties, at this time there are about 500 pieces. Gardeners divide all these varieties into 6 different groups.
1 group. Varieties having green foliage
- Allegro. The height of this evergreen shrub is about 0.6 m, and its crown has a diameter of about 0.5 m. There is a compact fairly dense crown, dark brown bark and scaly leafy plates of a dark green color. Flowering is observed from the last days of July to the end of October. Red-carmine flowers are simple glossy, they are collected in long inflorescences. The plant is winter-resistant, only young bushes need to be covered for wintering.
- Carmen. This hybrid variety, bred in the Netherlands, is very popular in European countries. The bush reaches a height of 0.3-0.4 m, has a rounded crown, small dark green leaves, dark brown bark, simple pinkish-purple flowers that are collected in peduncles (length up to 10 centimeters). It is frost-resistant, but needs shelter during the winter.
Also popular are such varieties as: Radnor, Duckness, Ross Hatton, Mazurka, Marco, Barnett Enley, Hoxtone and others.
2 group. Varieties with white flowers and green leafy plates
- Alba. The height of the erect bush is about 0.4 m, while the crown has a diameter of about 0.55 m. On the ascending branches there are saturated green leaf plates. White flowers are collected in dense racemose inflorescences.
- Alexandra. Shrubs of spherical shape reach a height of 0.3 m, with a crown diameter of 0.4 m. Leaf blades are dark green in color and the flowers are pale cream, and by the end of flowering they become dark red.
Also popular are such varieties as: White Lawn, Hampty Dampty, Long White, Alec Martin, Alba Jay and others.
3rd group. Varieties with silver foliage
- Silver Knight. This variety is bred in England. The height of the bush is about 0.3 m, and the diameter of the compact pillow-shaped crown is 0.45 m. The bark is dark brown, grayish-silver leaf plates have pubescence. In winter, the leaves become burgundy. Simple pale purple or lilac flowers are collected in inflorescences, having a length of 20 centimeters. It is resistant to cold, but it needs to be covered for wintering.
- Peter Sparks. The variety is also obtained in England. The height of the bush is about 0.5 m, and the diameter of its oval crown is 0.6 m. The bark is dark brown, small scaly leaves in the summer and autumn are dark green, and in the winter and spring it is greenish-gray. Terry dark pink flowers are part of inflorescences, the length of which is 0.3 m. It has moderate frost resistance.
Also popular are such varieties as: Annmarie, Velvet Fashion, Jan Decker, Glendwick Silver and others.
4 group. Varieties with golden foliage
- Andrew Proudley. The bush reaches a height of 15 centimeters, while the diameter of its crown is about 25 centimeters. Wide-rising branches are rather thin. In the warm season, the foliage is orange and has light yellow tips, and in winter it is painted in bronze color. Small pink flowers are part of loose inflorescences.
- Boscup. The variety was created in Holland. The bush reaches a height of 0.4 m, and the diameter of its compact crown is 0.5 m. The bark is dark brown. In summer, leaf blades are greenish yellow, and in autumn they turn reddish-copper. Simple lilac-pink flowers are part of short unbranched inflorescences, which reach about 10 centimeters in length. It has moderate frost resistance.
Also popular are such varieties as: Aura, Arran Gold, Blazeavay, Krimson Sunset, Gold Hayes, Cottswood Gold, etc.
5th group. Varieties having terry flowers
- Autumn Glow. The height of the spreading shrub is about 0.3 m, and the diameter of its crown is about 0.45 m. At the branches, the ends are raised. Dark green leafy plates, pale lilac, densely-terry flowers are part of short rather dense racemose inflorescences.
- Monica. The height of the wide-spreading shrub is 0.55 m, and the diameter of its crown is 0.8 m. Wide-rising branches are very strong. Dark green leaf plates in winter become grayish.Terry reddish-pink flowers are very large, collected in dense racemose inflorescences.
Also popular are such varieties as: Red Fairit, Dark Star, Alba Plena, Joan Sparks, County Wicklow.
6th group. Varieties having unopened flowers
- David Eason. The height of the spherical bush is about 20 centimeters, and the diameter of its crown is 25 centimeters. There are a large number of ascending branches. The leaf plates are dark green. Purple-pink dark flowers are part of short brushes.
- Marlin. German grade. The bush reaches a height of about 0.3 m, and the diameter of its crown is 0.5 m. Dark brown bark, small dark green leafy plates. Buds of mauve or deep purple color never open.
Also popular are such varieties as: Romina, Minima, Fritz Kircher.
Useful properties of heather
Heather has medicinal properties that are used in both folk and traditional medicine. It is widely used in the treatment of cough, kidney disease, cystitis, pyelitis, urethritis, dysentery, diarrhea, gastritis, enterocolitis, rheumatism, gout, and also skin diseases. Heather blooms are harvested from the last days of June to September, because during this period it contains the largest number of useful substances: flavonoids, mineral salts of phosphorus, potassium, calcium and sodium, organic acids. Thanks to them, the plant has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, diaphoretic, wound healing, expectorant, diuretic, astringent, cleansing and sedative effect.
A decoction of this shrub is used for insomnia and disorders of the nervous system, for atherosclerosis of the vessels, diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, high acidity, cholecystitis and obesity. If the throat is inflamed or there is inflammation in the mouth, then the decoction is used to rinse. Alcohol tincture on this plant helps with tuberculosis. Powder is made from crushed flowers, which helps with ulcers, eczema, wounds and burns. With radiculitis, heather baths are taken. The infusion, prepared from flowers, is rubbed into the skin of the head, this helps to get rid of hair loss and improve their health.
You can take heather for everyone, but still, before proceeding with treatment with this plant, you need to consult an experienced doctor. It is better to refrain from taking medications made from heather inside those who have low acidity of gastric juice.
Why dry heathers. Site "Garden World"
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