and other northern European countries are small perennial shrubs with a height of 15 to 50 cm with shoots, densely planted scaly leaves and small flowers, pinkish bellsDoes the color purple.
Forest heath is a symbol of endurance and good fortune.
In natural conditions of temperate climates, heather grows on vast wastelands and forest burns, on peatlands and along rocky slopes. The plant is extremely unpretentious.
At one place it can exist for up to 40–50 years and can be found even where other perennial crops simply cannot survive: in swamps and poor sandy soils of coniferous forests.
Low-growing species of forest heather adorn the poor flora in the tundra. For unpretentiousness and perseverance, the Norwegians in immemorial times honored the forest heath of honor to become a symbol of the country, but in the gardens of Europe the inhabitant of the windswept hills began to appear only in the XVIII century. In Russia, where up to 50 species belonging to this family are found in the wild-growing form, the heather garden appeared only twenty years ago at the base of the Botanical Garden in Moscow.
In Scotland, they say about the lucky one that he happened to see white heather flowers.
Indeed, it is almost impossible to see wild white heather on the vast moorlands, which are the traditional landmark of the country. But today, when the plant has aroused well-deserved interest from gardeners, it is not uncommon not only shrubs with brushes of white bells, but also varieties with crimson, purple, yellowish and orange simple, as well as terry flowers.
Garden heather and related species
Over the past 200 years, breeders have received several hundred spectacular varieties of ornamental heather, which can be conventionally divided into low-growing, medium and high-growing plants. And, besides them, the closest members of the heather family, for example, Erica and wild rosemary, berry bushes such as lingonberries, little dove and blueberries, as well as rhododendrons, are actively used in landscaping.
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The most common types of eric are close to common heather, living in nature from the Atlantic coast of America to North African countries. Wild heathers can be seen in the Asian region, the Caucasus and the Alps.
If the shoots of forest and ornamental heather do not grow longer than 70 cm, then certain types of Erica, for example tree, are real trees, up to 5–7 meters high.
Another difference between Erica and heather is the needle-shaped small leaves and elongated cups of flowers. True heather differs from related species not only by external signs, but also by the timing of the appearance of buds. When heather blooms, most of the ornamental plantings in the garden are already completing the growing season and preparing for winter. In the middle zone only in the second half of the summer, and more often in August, flowers appear on the bushes, which, depending on the variety, can hold up to the establishment of snow cover.
In several European countries and in America, garden heather is an evergreen culture. The plant does not lose its decoration and perfectly tolerates mild winters with temperatures up to +8 ° C.
At the end of the mass flowering heather remains bright and, perhaps, the only decoration of the garden. In many varieties, shoots are colored with all the colors of the rainbow, and the yellow, burgundy, purple or silver foliage of ornamental heather is clearly visible on the plot discolored in late autumn.
Reproduction and planting of ornamental and forest heather
You can propagate your favorite variety of terry, burgundy or white heather as well as vigorous seeds and vegetatively:
- using cuttings rooted in the summer or autumn, for 1–1.5 months in light sandy soil giving a root system suitable for planting;
- through cuttings from adult shoots of forest or ornamental heather.
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To obtain planting material at the place of contact with the soil, the branch is notched, treated with a growth stimulator, pinned and sprinkled with nutrient soil. Already by the fall the young bush of heather is ready to land.
Varietal saplings of heather, whose root system is in a container with peat ground, quickly take root.
Recommendations of reproduction and planting specialists:
- If garden heather bushes are not replanted until the end of September, it is better to postpone their transfer to a permanent place for April.
- For shrubs, it is better to choose a lighted area protected from the wind.
- As heather grows with age, from one plant to another leaves a distance of 40 to 50 cm.
- The depth of the landing hole for heather does not exceed 25 - 30 cm, but it is better to make it slightly wider, about 40 cm, to straighten the roots.
- A drainage layer is arranged at the bottom.
- When filling the pit, it is important not to bury the root neck.
Soil preparation for planting decorative heather
But the main task of the gardener, who decided to plant ornamental heather on the site, is preparing the soil for this plant. Despite the unpretentiousness of the culture, in many cases the experience of growing heather ends in failure. The cause of death often lies in the fact that both forest and ornamental heather live in symbiosis with soil primitive fungi that form a whitish coating or formation on the roots of a plant. If the mycelium of the fungus dies or is completely absent in the garden soil, the shrub weakens and may die.
So, without taking urgent measures, the gardener does not wait for the moment when heather blooms on the site:
- To maintain mycorrhiza's vital activity, acidic, with a pH from 4 to 5 units, 40 grams of garden soil are made per square meter.sulfur, boric or citric acid.
- The soil mix is made from two parts of high-moor peat, one part of sand and the same volume of rotted needles or foliage.
- As a fertilizer during planting, you can add a complex mineral composition, without calcium and organic matter.
If there are coniferous plantings with blueberries nearby, it is useful to add sandy soil from under such vegetation to the mixture for planting decorative heather.
Care for garden heather
To maintain the moisture level in the soil, to prevent it from overheating, and to prevent the weeds from actively developing, thick soil mulching under shrubs allows for excellent soil mulching. If the shoots of weed vegetation still appeared, in order not to damage the surface roots of the garden heather, it is better to lead the weeding only with the hands. On the eve of a set of heather buds, you can fertilize with granulated complex fertilizer at the rate of 10–15 grams per plant.
To maintain the acidity of the soil and prevent chlorine and calcium hazardous to mycorrhiza from getting to the roots, rainwater, filtered and acidified water is used for irrigation, for which 3-4 grams of citric, boric or oxalic acid are added to the 10 buckets.
In the first two years of life, decorative heather does not need pruning, but in adult bushes in the spring not only last year’s inflorescences are cut, but the entire green part of this branch is cut to wood, as well as frozen and dry shoots.
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If during planting all features of this interesting culture are taken into account, the varieties are selected taking into account the timing of flowering, frost resistance and growth, then late autumn, when heather blooms, will be the brightest season in the garden. Extremely durable and hardy shrub will show itself in all its glory, and all the efforts of the gardener will surely pay off.
Video about heather