Bushy and evergreen, easy to grow, the heather plant with the characteristic exuberant flowering even in winter, is suitable to color both the garden and our terrace throughout the year.
Heather shrubby plant, is a kind of plant that belongs to the family of Ericaceae, composed of more than 600 evergreen species.
Most of the species originate in South Africa. However, some species come from Europe (especially from the Mediterranean area).
Heather perennial plant that grows wild in the undergrowth
It is a plant that also grows spontaneously in the undergrowth, so it is not difficult to notice it, the most common heathers are small shrubs, with needle-shaped leaves of a bright green color and a cascade of small white or pink flowers.
All species of Erica are evergreens with small needle-leaf leaves and a length of no more than 2 centimetres.
The height of this plant varies depending on the species, from a few tens of centimeters up to more than one meter, there are some varieties that can even exceed 6 meters, such as Erica arborea and Erica scoparia.
Heather has a very exuberant production of flowers, and although small they have a unique character and an intense color, it is not by chance that I am often grown as ornamental plants.
The colors of its flowers change depending on the variety from red to white, or from pink to deep purple.
The flowering period of the heather varies depending on the variety and its flowers bloom almost all year round.
The seeds of this plant are very small and in some species they can remain in the soil in front of the plant for more than ten years.
Erica: Origins of the Name
The name of this plant, Erica, given by a Swedish naturalist botanist named Linnaeus, comes from the Latin erīcē, a plant described by Pliny, which was an adaptation of an ancient Greek word, “ἐρείκη eréikē”, used by Aeschylus and Theocritus and related to the ancient Irish froech.
However, the name Erica does not derive directly from the plant (whose name is of Greek-Latin origin) but from the Scandinavian name Erik.
Erica: Cultivation and Care
Most of the varieties of this plant are small and well tolerant of cold, are suitable for cultivation in the garden or in pots. The characteristic flowering that takes place in winter are particularly suitable to color our terrace or garden all year round.
They love light and cool areas very much, and most of the species that are grown as ornamental plants come from Europe.
However, while loving the light, most of these species fear the too hot, so in the garden if our climate is temperate better a planting in shady places, while if the climate is cold a sunnier place.
The ideal soil for this type of plant is a fairly acid soil, in fact the heather is an acidophilic plant, and therefore do not like calcium. They should therefore be grown in a specific soil for this type of plant, better if we add to this a little ‘sand to increase drainage.
The heather plant that loves light and humidity, so if you want to make it grow strong and lush, you must water it with moderation and frequently so as to leave the soil always slightly moist, at home also spray the leaves to make the environment moister.
Being an acidophilic plant, it fears the limestone present in the water, if the water of your house contains a lot of limestone then it is necessary to use rainwater or demineralized water.
Be careful, however, to water stagnation, we must avoid that the roots of the plant is in direct and frequent contact with the excess water.
For fertilization we must remember that being the heather plant acidophilic, we must use specific fertilizers for this type of plant.
The fertilization should be carried out only during the growing period a couple of times a month, during the spring period.
On the market there are different types of fertilizers suitable for these plants, from granular to liquid ones. The dosage depends on the type of fertilizer and in any case perhaps seek advice from an expert to avoid damage with excessive use of inappropriate fertilizer.
In addition to seeds one of the most used methods for the multiplication of heather is the cutting, generally made in late winter before spring, if the climate is mild, otherwise in early spring if we are in an area with a colder climate.
The cuttings will be placed in small pots with a soil composed of peat and sand to increase drainage, at a temperature not exceeding twenty degrees.
Erica: Diseases and Parasites
Although heather is a hardy and rustic plant, there are still some parasitic adversities that can affect this plant, such as the Ladybug and the red spider mite.
There are natural and chemical remedies to combat this plant. There are various insecticides and chemical products on the market that can be used, in this case get advice from an expert on the most suitable treatment to be performed especially if it is a large crop to avoid economic damage.
Depending on the color of its flowers over time has taken on different meanings, the heather plant also characterized by its resistance especially that of white or purple flowers, able to take root even in rocky and arid places unsuitable for other species, symbolizes loneliness.
Or the one with pink flowers that symbolizes melancholy. However, heather is considered in Anglo-Saxon places to bring good luck.