This is the Latin name for the common heather or ‘ling’ that we see on the heathlands and moorlands carpeting the areas with lavender coloured flowers during the late Summer and early Autumn . Found naturally throughout Europe and Mediterranean regions and even on Iceland it is a very hardy plant
There are numerous varieties with flower colours ranging from white through pink to red. Height can vary from 5cm (‘Baby Ben’, ‘White Lawn’) to 50 cm (‘Long White’, ‘Silver Queen’) although the taller varieties can (and should) be trimmed annually after flowering to keep them compact and bushy.
Some forms have double white flowers (‘Kinlochreul’, ‘My Dream’) or pink flowers (‘Peter Sparkes’, ‘Red Favorit’), these may be also used as dried flowers. Other varieties have brilliant Spring foliage colours on the new young growth, ‘Spring Torch’, ‘Sun Sprinkles’, ‘Forest Fire’.
The foliage colour is also variable with cultivars each having green, golden, silver or yellow foliage. Many of the yellow/orange foliage cultivars e.g ‘Robert Chapman’, ‘Wickwar Flame’, will turn red or bronze when exposed to cold Winter conditions.
A naturally occurring variation are plants whereby the flower remains in bud formation and never open. This variation has been harnessed by breeders (Garden Girls TM) to produce numerous forms with white (‘Klaudine’), pink, purple and red (‘Athene’) buds. As the flowers do not open and cannot be pollinated (frustrating the bees) they retain their colour for an extended period, often into early Winter.
Calluna vulgaris requires an acid soil for it to grow successfully although it can be grown in containers or in beds using an acid or ericaceous compost isolated from the ground soil.
The texture of heavy (clay) soils can be improved by the addition of peat and/or coarse grit
Trim to base of flowering spike after flowering.
Ensure the plants are kept moist during the first year of planting and in dry conditions.
For best results feed sparingly in Spring and early Summer with a general fertiliser.
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