Heather is one of the most beautiful plants in nature. It’s leaves are very soft and shiny, making them perfect for creating pretty patterns. They have a long history of use in art and decoration.
In the past, many cultures used heather for clothing and home décor. Today, they’re popular among gardeners because they grow well indoors with little attention required from their caretakers.
How to Grow Heather: How To Care For Heather
Growing heather (Calluna vulgaris) is easy if you follow these simple steps. You’ll want to start your new heather seeds indoors in late spring or early summer when temperatures are warm enough for germination. If you live in a cold climate, you may need to wait until fall before planting.
You’ll want to keep your heather potting soil moist but not soggy. When the weather warms up, water sparingly so the roots don’t dry out too quickly. Never let your heather sprout roots outside in direct sunlight!
When you’re ready to plant, simply dig a hole big enough for your new heather seedlings to crawl into and place it somewhere sunny where they can get plenty of light and air.
Calluna Care Tips
If you’re using a pot, it’s best to stick with something around 6 inches in height. Your pot shouldn’t be any wider than that either since heathers have a tendency to spread like weeds if they get enough sunlight. If your pot has multiple holes in the bottom for drainage, make sure to add some gravel to keep the soil from running out.
Keep in mind that heather grows quickly when given the right conditions. In just a few months, it can overtake your garden or flower bed. If you want to grow it in a small space or container without it taking over, plant it in a narrow vase or some sort of decorative stone box that will keep it contained.
If you’re planting more than one heather seedling, keep the pot 1 foot apart from the next one so they have enough room to spread out. Be prepared to thin out the weakest seedlings after they sprout.
Before long, you’ll have a nice looking clump of heather that’s ideal for adding character to your yard or garden!
While there’s nothing too complicated about growing heather, there are several varieties that may have slightly different requirements. As always, do your own tests and try new things to see what works best in your location. Happy planting!
Caring for Heather: How To Water
The first thing to address about heather care is watering. Heathers don’t like being over or under watered, so you’ll have to find the happy medium.
If you get a large pot, or several small ones, make sure there are holes in the bottom to allow the water to drain out. Otherwise you could end up drowning your plants.
If you’re using smaller pots, make sure to water them regularly. Water heathers whenever the soil feels dry about an inch down. Never allow the soil to dry out too much or the roots will start to die off and the plant will suffer.
Also, try to water your heather seedlings with water that’s neither too hot nor too cold. Cold water can shock the young plants and warm water can promote the growth of algae.
If you’re using a drip watering system set it up so that it waters your plants regularly but doesn’t drown them.
If you don’t have a watering system, or just don’t trust yourself to water your plants regularly, go for a self-watering pot. These days there are all sorts of self-watering planters and systems available that are very affordable.
Some of them even look nice enough to leave out on display.
A common problem for people growing Heather indoors is excessively dry air. The best way to solve this is to increase the humidity. You can do this by placing the planter on a tray full of rocks and then filling the tray with water so that it creates a bit of a moat around the pot. Be sure to keep an eye on it and top up the water as it evaporates.
Heathers are a hardy bunch and can often get by just fine with out any fertilizer at all.
If you do feel like giving your plants a little boost, then go right ahead and use a slow release fertilizer. These are made to provide nutrients over an extended period of time so that you only have to apply it once every couple months, or even less. Follow the directions on the package for specific rates.
Don’t be too hasty to fertilize your heathers. Some people get so excited about growing their plants that they over fertilize them causing the plant to grow really fast at first but then become weak and sickly because it’s missing key nutrients. Heathers will generally grow well enough on their own without extra help, so only start adding fertilizer if you notice your plants aren’t growing as much as you’d like.
Or, you could always take the lazy route and just buy yourself a pack of Happy Heather. It’s a special type of plant food that’s been formulated specifically for heathers and contains all the nutrients they need to grow big and strong!
You can find the Happy Heather brand plant food at most nurseries and garden centers, but if you have trouble locating any you can always order it online.
Containers for Heathers
Heathers can be grown in a variety of different containers. It doesn’t really matter what you use as long as the container has a drainage hole or system of some sort and it has enough room for the roots to grow.
One popular choice is an old metal milk can. These are easy to find and come with a nice wide opening at the top which makes them easy to water and tend to.
Whatever you use, the key is to pick something the right size for your plant. It needs to be deep enough that the roots have room to spread out but not so wide that the plant will get too tall and top heavy. A good rule of thumb is to pick a container that’s no deeper than 1.5 times the height of the plant, and no wider than 2 times it’s height.
For example, let’s say you’ve got a 4 foot tall plant. You need to pick something that’s at least a foot and a half deep, and no more than 3 feet wide.
Of course if you’re into math and need something a little more precise, use this handy container size calculator.
Heathers can thrive with just about any type of watering system as long as they don’t dry out completely.
For plants grown in non-waterproof containers, you’ll need to water from the top. Use a watering can with a narrow spout or nippers to gently wash the soil until it’s good and soaked. Avoid splashing the leaves as heathers don’t tend to like getting wet.
For plants grown in waterproof containers, the best way to water them is by submerging the entire pot in a bath of water for a few minutes. Place your finger over the hole at the bottom of the pot before filling it up to make sure no water leaks through. Also make sure the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot are clear of any debris.
A good rule of thumb is to water your plants every couple days or so unless you happen to be experiencing a wetter than normal period. The soil should always feel nice and moist 2 inches below the surface.
Heathers grow faster and produce larger blooms when fed a little fertilizer every now and then.
The type of fertilizer you use isn’t all that important. You can feed your plants with anything from table sugar (sucrose) to chicken manure. If you happen to have access to bird or bat guano, that stuff is great and can be found at most specialty gardening stores.
If using a commercial type of fertilizer, follow the directions on the packaging.
Sources & references used in this article:
Confronting the growing burden of chronic disease: can the US health care workforce do the job? by T Bodenheimer, E Chen, HD Bennett – Health affairs, 2009 – healthaffairs.org
Sexual orientation and bullying among adolescents in the growing up today study by ED Berlan, HL Corliss, AE Field, E Goodman… – Journal of Adolescent …, 2010 – Elsevier
Growing towards care: A narrative approach to prosocial moral identity and generativity of personality in emerging adulthood by MW Pratt, ML Arnold, H Lawford – Personality, identity, and …, 2009 – books.google.com
Sexual orientation disparities in longitudinal alcohol use patterns among adolescents: Findings from the Growing Up Today Study by HL Corliss, M Rosario, D Wypij… – Archives of pediatrics …, 2008 – jamanetwork.com
Advances in tuberculosis diagnostics: the Xpert MTB/RIF assay and future prospects for a point-of-care test by SD Lawn, P Mwaba, M Bates, A Piatek… – The Lancet infectious …, 2013 – Elsevier
Towards a comprehensive theory of nurse/patient empowerment: applying Kanter’s empowerment theory to patient care by HK SPENCE LASCHINGER, S Gilbert… – Journal of nursing …, 2010 – Wiley Online Library