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Plant of the month February 2017

Heathers (Erica and Calluna) can be described as the ultimate evergreen ground cover shrub, but are more versatile in that they can be grown in containers and baskets for great effect right across the year.

Plant of the month for February - Heathers

They are winter flowering through to early spring (November to March). The range of foliage colour complements the flower colours that are bright and vibrant. They are very hardy, but are fussy about the soil or growing medium that they expect to grow in.

Tips:

When buying, avoid lank and straggly plants and select bushy specimens with fresh looking foliage which have been carefully reared and trimmed in early life. Some species of heather require acid soil conditions to thrive, whereas others will grow in well drained soils providing the pH is not above 7.

A heather bed should be positioned in full sun, away from deciduous trees, and if possible, sited so that the main view is from the south, as foliage heathers always colour better on their southern side. The bed should be informal in shape and preferably, contain no straight lines.

Companion Plants:

Heathers can be combined with various conifers ranging from the ground covering Juniperus horizontalis cultivars to the more upright forms of Pinus mugo. The range of conifer colours complements the many heathers, that are available.

Bulbs like snowdrops can be under planted and they can be combined with crocus and miniature daffodil when planted in baskets and containers.