Erica is grown for small, needlelike leaves that become showered in small flowers. Blooms that may be bell shaped, urn shaped, or tubular.

Plants can be small and mounding, no taller than 6 inches high or a tall upright or sprawling shrub, as high as 6 to 10 feet. Heath needs excellent drainage and acidic soil. Sandy soil amended with organic matter is ideal.

Water carefully and consistently – plants will not tolerate standing water or absolute dryness. Shear or cut off faded flower spikes, but don’t cut to bare wood as new growth might not resprout.


Photo by Jim McCausland

After flowering, they display fiery winter foliage

Steven R. Lorton

In the Pacific Northwest, Scotch heather (Calluna vulgaris) is widely appreciated for delicate flowers that appear from midsummer to early autumn. Then, with the onset of frosty weather, many varieties of heather put on a second show as their foliage turns glowing shades of red, orange, or golden yellow.

Scotch heather grows well in cool, moist Northwest climates (Sunset zones 2-7 and 17), but is not suited for the dry-summer, cold-winter conditions east of the Cascades.

These varieties display especially vivid winter foliage; most bloom in August and September. Shop nurseries now for plants in 4-inch pots or 1-gallon cans. All plants listed below are available by mail from Heaths & Heathers in Shelton, Washington (catalog free; 360/427-5318 or Plant immediately in a site that gets full sun. Heathers need well-drained soil, enriched leaf mold, or peat moss.

'Beoley Gold'. Foliage turns rich gold in winter; white flowers.

'Firefly'. Terra-cotta-colored summer foliage turns vivid red; deep mauve flowers.

'Glenlivet'. Orange summer foliage becomes bright red; pink flowers.

'Gold Haze'. Gold hue deepens in winter; white flowers.

'Gold Knight'. Downy gold summer foliage develops a hint of red; lavender flowers.

'Hoyerhagen'. Bright gold summer foliage turns deep red in winter; pale crimson flowers.

'Robert Chapman'. Gold summer foliage becomes brick red in winter; lavender flowers.

'Sesam'. Gold foliage turns rich red-orange; lilac-pink flowers.

'Silver Knight'. Silver gray summer foliage develops purplish cast in winter; lavender flowers.

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