Cultural Advice for Heathers:
Soil and Aspect:Heathers thrive in acidic, free-draining soils preferably in open sunny positions and dislike 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.
Planting Advice: Our heathers are container grown and can be planted at any time of the year, except during drought or frost. Mix plenty of ericaceous compost (lime-free) 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. A good rule of thumb is that most heathers will achieve a spread of around double their ultimate height.
Aftercare: 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 ericaceous compost every year. If your soil is alkaline or heavy and poorly drained soils then a raised bed filled with ericaceous (lime-free) compost can provide the perfect solution as well as being an attractive design feature.
Pruning: Calluna vulgaris varieties should have dead flower spikes removed every March to avoid the plants becoming leggy and woody. Most other species only need the occasional tidy up if needed and this should be done in early spring. In all cases pruning should be carried out with extreme care, never cut back hard into old wood or there will be little or no new growth.
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