Growing Heather: How To Care For Heather

Image by Andrew Wilkinson

By Becca Badgett
(Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden)

Brilliant blooms of the heather flower attract gardeners to this low growing evergreen shrub. Various performance results from growing heather. Size and forms of the shrub vary greatly and many colors of the blooming heather flower exist. Common heather (Calluna vulgaris) is native to the moors and bogs of Europe and may be difficult to grow in some areas of the United States. However, gardeners continue planting heather for its spectacular form and foliage and for the racemes of the heather flower.

How to Care for Heather

The heather flower appears in mid summer to mid fall on this low growing ground cover shrub. Heather plant care usually should not include pruning, as this may disturb the natural look of growing heather.

Scotch heather plant care does not include heavy watering once the plant is established, usually after the first year. However, the shrub is not drought tolerant in all landscape situations. After being established, heather is picky about water requirements, needing about an inch per week, including rainfall and supplemental irrigation. Too much water of growing heather can cause roots to rot, but soil should remain consistently moist.


The heather flower is tolerant of sea spray and resistant to deer. Growing heather requires acidic, sandy or loamy soil that is well drained, and protection from damaging winds.

The attractive, changing foliage of this specimen of the Ericaceae family is another reason for planting heather. Forms of foliage will vary with the type of heather you plant and with the age of the shrub. Many cultivars of heather offer changing, brilliant and colorful foliage at different times of year.

Some sources report that growing heather is limited to USDA plant hardiness zones 4 to 6, other include zone 7. Any zones further south are said to be too hot for the heather shrub. Some sources advise of difficulties with the plant’s vigor and blame it on soil, moisture content and wind. Yet, gardeners continue planting heather and experimenting with how to care for heather with enthusiasm for the attractive, long blooming ground cover shrub.

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