Heathers & Heaths

Heathers are some of the best plants for year-round color. Indeed there are so many kinds of heather that at least one is blooming each day of the year!

Flowers are just the beginning of the story though, because foliage of Calluna, Daboecia and Erica - the species that make up Heaths and Heathers - is incredibly varied. Evergreen leaves can be deep green, but they can also be red, orange, yellow, blue or purple!

There are too many varieties of Heaths and Heathers to list, and our selection varies from year to year - but these are some of our favorites.

Calluna: Heather, Scotch Heather, Ling

Calluna vulgaris

Calluna comes from the Greek word kallunein, meaning to cleanse, probably because the twigs were used to make brooms. Callunas have just a single species, Calluna vulgaris, but over 800 cultivated forms are in existence.

Flowers: Small bell flowers during summer in colors ranging from white to pink to crimson. Bud-bloomers are flowers that never mature beyond the bud stage and because of this, maintain their color for a long period. Double flower forms have more petals, so they look like pearl-size balls along the branches.

Foliage: Evergreen leaves are feathery or sometimes scale-like. Leaf color can be silver, green, gold or variegated, and many Callunas change color in the winter, turning brilliant orange, red or chocolate. Several varieties have red, coral or white new growth in spring.

Calluna vulgaris 'Allegro'

Dark rose pink flowers August – October, green leaves, grows 18" x 24".

Calluna vulgaris 'Firefly'

One of the best for foliage, 'Firefly' has yellow-orange leaves that turn bright red in winter. Flowers are a secondary concern, and they are mauve pink. Grows 18" x 20".

Calluna vulgaris 'Kerstin'

Pretty pink and cream new growth in spring turns gray-green with hints of lavender in winter, mauve flowers August - September, 12" x 18"

Calluna vulgaris 'Silver Knight'

Leaves are the palest blue-gray and gain hints of lavender during winter, lavender-pink flowers July - September, grows 20" x 24"

Calluna vulgaris 'Spring Torch'

Fiery red and orange new leaves turn deep green in summer, mauve flower spikes August - October, grows 18" x 24"

Daboecia: Irish Heath

Daboecia cantabrica, J. Garmendia 1689
Daboecia cantabrica

Daboecia is named for the Irish Saint Dabeoc

Daboecia azorica and Daboecia cantabrica exist in nature and Daboecia x scotica is a man-made hybrid of the two naturally occurring forms.

Flowers: Daboecia flowers are the largest of all the Heathers to ½” long and can be white, pink, red, magenta or purple. Flowers are held in racemes above the foliage & bloom from June to October.

Foliage: Evergreen leaves are dark green and glossy. Most Heather leaves look coniferous and needle-like, but Daboecia leaves are more 'leafy'.

Erica: Heath

Erica carnea
Erica carnea 'King George'

Erica is from the Greek work ereiko meaning ‘to break’. Possibly because the stems break easily and possibly because of the medieval belief that it could be used medicinally to dissolve gall stones.

Flowers: Small bell-shape flowers can be white, pink, mauve, cerise, magenta or purple. Bloom-time varies per species.

Winter/Spring flowers: Erica carnea, Erica darleyensis.

Summer/Fall flowers: Erica cinerea, Erica griffithsii, Erica stuartii, Erica tetralix & Erica vegans

Foliage: Evergreen leaves look like tiny needles and can be green, gold or blue.

Erica 'Adrienne Duncan'

Erica carnea 'Adrienne Duncan'

Dark pink flowers January-April, dark green leaves turn deep maroon at the tips in winter.

Grows 6" x 18"

Erica 'Ice Princess'

Erica carnea 'Ice Princess'

Pure white flowers December-April, dark green leaves.

Grows 6" x 18"

Erica carnea 'Vivellii'

Magenta flowers January – April, bronze leaves in winter turns green in the summer, grows 6" x 16"

Erica cinerea 'C.D. Eason'

Erica carnea
Erica cinerea 'Velvet Night' (Erica griffithsii ‘Valerie Griffiths’ in background)

Magenta bell flowers in summer - June-September, soft green needle-like leaves, grows 10" x 20"

Erica x darleyensis 'Kramer's Rote'

Erica x darleyensis 'Kramers Rote'

Magenta flowers January – April, dark green leaves, grows 15" x 24".

Erica x darleyensis 'Mary Helen'

Pink flowers February-April, gold leaves turn gold with orange tips in winter, grows 10" x 18".