Learn how to Develop Winter Heath and Favourite Varieties

Winter heath (Erica carnea, Zones 5-8) is surprisingly absent from our Northeastern gardens. Species within the heath genus (Erica) are sometimes confused or lumped in with heather (Calluna vulgaris, Zones 4-7). Whereas heather cultivars can nonetheless be discovered at many backyard facilities and on-line nurseries, you might want to keep away from planting them. This species has been reported as invasive within the Northeast and elements of the Midwest. Whereas it could not seem to unfold round one’s backyard, in wild areas, particularly alpine, high-elevation, and coastal areas, heather has been documented as impacting the displacement of some native vegetation. Study extra about heaths and heathers.

Heather blooms in summer and fall
Heather (left) and winter heath (proper). Heather blooms in summer time and fall. Picture: Michelle Gervais

Winter heath blooms in winter and early spring
Winter heath blooms in winter and early spring. Picture: Ann. E. Stratton

Why to Develop Winter Heaths

Winter heath boasts evergreen foliage and winter flowers

Fortunately, winter heath, which is probably much more stunning than heather, supplies dense, evergreen foliage. It has colourful winter blooms in shades of white, pink, and purple in what can in any other case be a uninteresting gardening season for gardeners with chilly winters. Since this species is hardy by means of USDA Zone 5, winter heaths are well-suited to most Northeastern gardens, offering year-round curiosity. This plant is a real winter-bloomer and may flower any time from December by means of April relying on selection.

Foliage supplies its personal winter curiosity

At all times learn the descriptions of every winter heath selection fastidiously to find the foliage coloration, which may typically change by means of the 4 seasons. Golden needles might flip vivid chartreuse in spring and winter or be blushed with pink or purple, whereas darkish inexperienced needles may flip almost violet as soon as winter arrives. Many contemplate the flower coloration on winter heaths to be merely a pleasant bonus, as the actual present comes from the numerous tints and textures introduced by the foliage.

As a result of these leaves are so pretty, many gardeners plant winter heath in massive drifts, typically mixing varieties to create a patchwork carpet of coloration. In a number of years, as soon as vegetation develop and merge, the general impact supplies four-season magnificence with little care past some annual trimming after bloom when you discover the drying flowers unattractive. Study extra on easy methods to look after winter heaths.


Learn how to Develop Winter Heath

Straightforward to develop in most gardens, the key to success with winter heath is fairly easy.

  • Contemplate planting in bigger drifts containing 6 to 12 vegetation spaced 12 to 18 inches aside so vegetation develop and merge collectively.
  • Acidic, peat-rich soil situations are a should (these are straightforward situations to search out in most Northeastern gardens).
  • Whereas this plant can survive a scorching, dry summer time, make sure to find it in some afternoon shade for greatest outcomes and make sure to present sufficient moisture in its early years.
  • Established vegetation are very drought tolerant. Simply make sure to water when dry just for the plant’s first yr.
  • Safety from harsh winter winds is crucial as deep, protecting snowfalls appear increasingly unreliable given the altering local weather.
  • The most secure guess can be to plant your winter heath with an jap publicity towards a wind barrier, resembling taller evergreens.

Favourite Winter Heath Varieties

With over 100 cultivars, there isn’t a scarcity of sorts to select from. Some stellar picks embrace:

‘Golden Starlet’ winter heath
The intense white flowers of ‘Golden Starlet’ winter heath distinction with its inexperienced and yellow foliage.

‘Golden Starlet’ winter heath

Erica carnea ‘Golden Starlet,’ Zones 5-8

The intense golden foliage that this selection sports activities in spring and summer time turns to inexperienced with chartreuse suggestions in winter. Good white winter flowers final almost by means of spring.

‘Kramer’s Red’ heath
For vivid pink-purple blooms, flip to ‘Kramer’s Purple.’

‘Kramer’s Purple’ Darley heath

Erica x darleyensis ‘Kramer’s Purple,’ Zones 5-8

This hybrid cultivar presents sensible pinkish-purple flowers in winter that first seem as chartreuse flower buds in autumn. Its darkish inexperienced foliage will get beautiful bronze tints in chilly climate, changing into almost maroon and enhancing the winter present.

‘Schneekuppe’ winter heath
‘Schneekuppe’ winter heath has long-blooming white flowers…

Erica carnea 'Schneekuppe' turns light green in late winter.
…and foliage that takes on a lightweight inexperienced hue in late winter.

‘Schneekuppe’ winter heath

Erica carnea ‘Schneekuppe,’ Zones 5-8

A German introduction, this winter heath has wealthy inexperienced foliage yr spherical, which will get chartreuse suggestions in later winter and spring. The white flowers sparkle through the winter months, making the plant look as whether it is frosted with bits of snow.

With colourful evergreen foliage that wows all yr lengthy and charming little flowers that bloom even within the lifeless of winter, winter heath is price including to your backyard.

See extra of our favourite heath varieties right here.


For extra on winter curiosity within the Northeast, take a look at:


And for extra Northeast regional studies, click on right here.


Matt Mattus is the creator of two books: Mastering the Artwork of Flower Gardening and Mastering the Artwork of Vegetable Gardening. He gardens in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Pictures, until in any other case famous: Matt Mattus

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