Add a Splash of purple in your early spring garden.2/7/2013


Add a Splash of purple in your early spring garden.


Have you ever watched a movie that was set in the beautifully romantic Scottish moors and wonder if you could have those beautiful fields of white, pink and purple?  Well it may be difficult to get “fields” of that color, but you could certainly have it dotting your gardens.  Consider planting heather and heath in clusters in your garden, or as a border along a path and maybe throughout your rock garden.  If planted correctly and with a few different varieties, you can actually have constant color from winter to spring. Heather and Heath are plants from the same family, but are slightly different and often difficult to differentiate.  Their botanical names will help you determine which is which Heath (Erica) blooms in the winter and feature needle leaves, Heath will tolerate the sun and wind a bit better then heather. It requires no pruning and could bloom from December through April.  Heather (Calluna) has scalelike foliage and would prefer a springtime prune.  Heather blooms late July and August.  To avoid disappointment when planting heather, you should select a spot in the morning sun that is followed by dappled shade and plant it in acidic soil with good drainage.  Typically heather is a low growing evergreen that can reach a height of 24 inches, making it an ideal plant for a rock garden.  A non-invasive plant that is a slow grower, it is best planted 18 inches apart when used in a mixed border. You can count on heather to attract bees. When cut it makes an excellent filler flower in floral arrangements, and can easily be dried.   If you notice yellow leaves on your heather, this is a sign that the ph of the soil lacks enough acidity for the plants.  Consider adding Holly-tone or a soil acidifier to help the situation.   Powdery mildew can also cause some problems to most plants that are planted too close together, make sure the plants are not crowded, if noticed use a fungicide to control the mildew.  Heather is typically available at the garden center in the earliest part of spring and will quickly sell out since it is virtually the only shrub in bloom in this time frame.