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August 2010
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Scottish Heather (Ericaceae) – Small shrubs with flowers

Heather, the name most commonly used for this plant, is of Scottish origin, presumably derived from the Scots word HAEDDRE. It is derived from Greek word “Ereike”, meaning heather or heath. The plant Heather is a variety of small shrubs with pink or white flowers which commonly grow in rocky areas. They are hardy, colorful and perennial shrubs well suited to marginal pastures. They are native to heaths, moors and woodlands or Europe and Asia Minor. These plants grow in acidic soils. They bloom year-round usually but depending on the type of heather, the flowers bloom b bloom between July and November and come in pink, lavender, white, magenta, amethyst, purple and red. These plants grow up to twenty inches tall and three feet wide.
The foliage color can be found in pink, red, copper, bronze, gold, silvery gray and every shade of green imaginable. They keep their color though the winter, breaking up the dreary tans and browns of winter landscapes. The colder weathers are suitable for heather’s growth. Firstly, the plant’s reproductive capacity is high with seeds produced in very large numbers and so there are abundantly found. Each tiny heather flower has 30 seeds, so it is quite possible for one large plant to produce up to 150,000 seeds per season. The seeds are readily dispersed by wind and insects, with the germination period lasting up to six months.
Most heather seeds are normally shed during November and December, with germination proving most successful in acidic to poor organic soils. Heather is relatively resistant to feeding cattle and sheep. Heather can survive in many soil types, from those which are peaty with high water content to those which are free draining and relatively dry. This plant had many practical uses such as for thatching, dyes, ropes, brooms and more. It also was used to treat cough, consumption, anxiety, arthritis, and rheumatism.

Growing conditions of Heather

• The best time to plant the heather is in the spring or beginning of fall.
• Seed, division and cuttings can start new heather plants.
• The germination period is about six months.
• If starting by cuttings, the best time to take them is in summer when the wood is half-ripe.
• It prefers slightly acidic soil with a pH of 4.5 – 5.5.
• After getting the plants into the ground, water them until the ground is moist.
• Follow this watering twice a week for a few months.

Care for heather

• The colder weathers are suitable for heather’s growth.
• The heather plant will do just fine in rocky soil.
• It prefers slightly acidic soil with a pH of 4.5 – 5.5.
• Heather plants should get four to six hours of sunlight daily.
• It is best to plant it in a place with enough sunlight throughout the year.
• The more sunshine this plant receives, the brighter are its leaves and flowers.
• Not enough sun will cause the plant to look leggy and dull.
• Consider the space a mature plant needs to fully develop.
• Do not over water them.
• If the soil remains too wet the plant will suffer and possibly die.
• The heather plant is hardy and resistant to insects, common diseases, and small burrowing rodents.

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