July 24, 2017

Rolling in the Heath

Erica cinerea - Heath

Erica cinerea – Heath | Credit: Wikimedia Commons – Kurt Stueber (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Erica cinerea is an evergreen shrub that is commonly known as Scotch heath or bell heather. Don’t let that heather moniker fool you, however. The Erica genus is for heaths, of which there are about 500 species. Most can be found in South Africa, but a few are scattered through the Mediterranean and northern Europe. It is a heavy nectar producer, which is not surprising given that it can blossom for about three months. You do need lots of sun and soil that is acidic, peaty and moist, but well-drained. Winter protection, such as fir boughs, placed over the plant should help winter it over, especially if there is no snow cover (and who can predict that?). As for hardiness, check the variety. Some are rated for Zone 4.