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

What to do in your Northwest garden in January

Jim McCausland


As you shop for winter-flowering heaths, don’t overlook the related heathers. Many varieties balance summer blooms with winter foliage in green, chartreuse, yellow, lilac gray, scarlet, and russet.

Plant bare-root berries, grapes, fruit trees, vines, vegetables, and ornamentals as soon as they come into nurseries. They are inexpensive and adapt quickly to unamended native soil.

Scout nurseries for winter-flowering camellias, Viburnum bodnantense, wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox), and a wide array of witch hazels.


Prune ever-blooming, disease-resistant shrub roses like ‘Knockout’, the Flower Carpet series, and ‘Easy Elegance’ roses for shape.

Because a lopper is just a long-handled pruner, Corona has designed a convertible pruner and lopper with foldout handles. Cuts 1 1/4-inch diameter. $40,

Brief winter mild spells usually give rise to galaxies of weed seedlings in empty beds. Demolish them fast with a scuffle hoe, and save yourself hours of hand weeding later.


Assess garden beds and borders now, while many plants are leafless. Note the shape and placement of trees, shrubs and ground covers, and areas that could use improvement. If beds are narrow and straight, plan to make them wide and curved. Check out tall plants to add height in back, medium ones for the middle, and low-growing edgers for the front.

Dig out a bark path 5 feet wide and 6 inches deep. Put packed sand on the bottom half and top it with ground bark to give yourself a dry, quiet, all-weather surface.

Space new plants according to their mature sizes—they’ll fill out faster than you might expect. In the meantime, fill the spaces between with annuals. Winter seed catalogs offer endless choices.

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