Erica x darleyensis varieties thrive in acid soils that are free draining, but will tolerate slightly alkaline soils. If your soil is very alkaline or heavy and poorly drained then a raised bed filled with ericaceous (lime-free) compost can provide the perfect solution as well as being an attractive design feature.
Heathers prefer open sunny positions and dislike shade although Erica carnea and Erica x darleyensis will tolerate light shade. All golden foliage varieties should be planted in full sun to produce bright colours, best when positioned to be seen from the south side.
Mix plenty of ericaceous compost into the soil to maintain acidity and to improve water retention of light soils or to open up heavier types. Always plant deeply enough for the lower foliage to rest on the soil and firm with the hands, not the feet or trowel which may damage the delicate roots. Add a 5cm (2ins) top-dressing of compost and work it into the lower foliage. This will keep the weeds down and the soil moist, whilst providing a good background to the plants. Give every plant a thorough soaking after planting.
Planting distances may vary, depending on personal preference, you may want rapid ground cover or you may want to see individual specimens. As a general guide we recommend planting heathers 30 - 60cm (1-2ft) apart depending on size. If the heather border is to be viewed from a distance we recommend planting in groups of three or more of each variety.
In the first season after planting never allow the plants to dry out. Do not use manure or artificial fertilizers but on very poor soils light dressings of natural fertilizers such as bone meal can be beneficial, especially where the ground is completely covered by established plants. Top-dress with extra compost every year.
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