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Heathers - Care Guide

Growing Tree Heathers - Erica

Tree heaths

There are two species which Burncoose offers which have very differing degrees of hardiness – Erica arborea, the Tree heath, and Erica canaliculata, the Channelled heath. Tree heathers make excellent specimen plants on hot dry banks in the garden in full sun.

Erica arborea is an upright shrub growing to perhaps 12-15ft tall in maturity with a spread of about half this. It is native to cliffs and mountains in SW Europe and the Mediterranean and is fully hardy in the UK although it may only grow to these sorts of heights in milder coastal districts. It can readily be cut down nearly to ground level and will still reshoot vigorously and it will readily self-seed itself and spread on dry banks. It grows best in full sun and will readily tolerate strong winds. It flowers in Cornwall in February and on through most of the spring. The white bell shaped flowers are borne in long, upright, pyramidical leafy racemes of flowers. The flowers have a honey scent which wafts on the wind and attracts bees on sunny spring days.

E. arborea ‘Albert’s Gold’ grows to only about half the size and has lovely golden foliage but does not often produce many flowers especially as a young plant. Its foliage does need some protection from cold east winds which can cause scorching.

E. arborea ’Estrella Gold’ is smaller growing again and achieves a height of perhaps only 4ft or so. It has lime-green foliage tipped with bright yellow. White flowers appear in spring from the upright leafy stems.

Erica canaliculata can grow to around 6ft in height and has been very happy growing on a low wall by the propagation houses at the nursery for at least 40 years where it is only 3-4ft tall. It has linear dark green leaves which are paler beneath. In winter and spring it produces panicles of cup shaped pink or pale-pink flowers with dark brown anthers. This species of tree heather originates from South Africa and is certainly half hardy in colder parts of the country but it does make an attractive conservatory or greenhouse plant when grown in a large pot.

Tree heathers are most easily propagated from early summer softwood new growths.


Pruning summer flowering Heathers - Video Tip


Plants


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