This is an unpruned gallon of Calluna vulgaris. The old flowers will fall off leaving long lengths of bare, unsightly stems. Prune these off at the base of the old flowers, or you will have an ugly plant in a few short years.  They will grow out quickly again, don't worry!

 

This is what it should look like pruned. This will keep it bushy and prevent it from forming a bare, woody center.

                

In the colder zones, prune in spring. Warmer climates can prune when finished blooming or in the spring.

Pruning

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The Heather Specialists

Pruning & Culture

Ericas should be pruned also.  You don't need to go to the base of the flowers as their flowers form on needled branches.  However, they do need a light hair cut to keep them bushy and to prevent them from forming a bare, woody center.  Remember to stay in the green when pruning all heather.  Don't go down into the brown woody area - it might not regenerate new growth.

 

Remember to prune winter bloomers when finished blooming in spring.  If you wait until mid summer or fall, you have cut off all of next year's blossoms.  In spring, they haven't formed yet.

 

Tree heaths can have their tips pinched out when finished blooming to encourage a well branched plant. 

 

This is the key to keeping older heather attractive.  If you never plan on pruning your heaths and heathers, we recommend you don't purchase any. 

 

Water Requirements

 

Heather must be prevented from drying out its first year while getting established.  It is quite drought tolerant once established.

Article on watering heather(click on link)

 

Winter Damage in the East

 

In the Northeast, a nasty winter can cause plant damage.  Some customers feel that a moderating of temperatures and then another deep cold spell can be especially damaging.  Those who protect their plants fare better in many cases.  Normally stem splitting happens to Erica vagans, but others can be hard hit as well.  Cut them back to the ground and they often will push out a flush of new growth.  Heavy snow loads will flatten and break the stems also.  In some gardens, only the flowers buds are killed. 

 

If the branch tips are bare of foliage, they were killed back by the cold and wind with no snow cover.  Cut back to the live foliage.  Take a wait and see attitude after pruning back, and see if plants that look dead will come back.

 

There are pruning videos on our Facebook page under Heaths and Heathers Nursery.

Fertilizing

 

We do not fertilize our established heather.  If it is planted in sandy soil, it may need an acid fertilizer if it is looking pale or not performing well.  Fertilizing can make heather too soft for winter, susceptible to fungal damage, and attracts deer.

 

We do add acid fertilizer and compost to the hole when planting.  You can use any fertilizer that rhodies, azaleas and hollies like.

Can I Grow Heather Where I Live? Also, Our Planting Instructions for You

 

Some general information. (Click)

The Heather Specialists

Pruning & Culture