Erica Heather White
Ericas are native to South Africa ; many species originate from the Cape Peninsula . From the mention of “ereike” by some of the early Greek writers, it is known that the areas around the Mediterranean Sea have also been a habitat of the Erica for thousands of years.
How to Plant and Care for Heather
- Prep the soil. Heaths and heathers are acid lovers, Work in damp peat moss or other acidic soil amendments, loosen the soil and dig holes twice as wide as each plant’s root ball to encourage roots to spread.
- Provide drainage. Without good drainage, these plants just won’t grow. For clay soil build a raised bed with equal parts topsoil, sand, and composted bark or peat moss, which will create acidic soil that properly drains. For boggy soil, make a modest berm.
- Plant. Shear newly purchased plants to encourage bushiness, and plant in spring or early autumn. Water twice a week for the first several months so the ground is moist but not soggy. This will encourage rapid, vigorous growth to get plants established. Apply a mulch of your choice, preferably an acidic one. After two or three years, heathers and heaths are generally drought-tolerant and can take care of themselves.
- Allow for spacing. Space the plants about as far apart as the plant’s mature width to allow air circulation, which is important for good foliage growth and color but close enough so the plants will eventually mound together.
- Consider sun exposure. Allow for a minimum of six hours of sun a day for best foliage effect. The foliage will be best on the south side of the plant, especially for red varieties. Six or more hours of sun are also recommended with afternoon shade in hotter areas. Too much shade makes the plants leggy and dulls the brilliance of those that have colorful foliage.
- Don’t fuss. Heaths and heathers actually like poor soil. Giving annual doses of fertilizer is deadlier than not giving any at all.