Heather Is Blooming In The Winter: Flowering Triggers For Winter Heather

Blooming Heather Shrub Covered In Frost
winter heather
(Image credit: Yulia Barinova)

Are you wondering why your heather is blooming in the winter? Heather belongs to the Ericaceae family, a large, diverse group that includes more than 4,000 plants. This includes blueberry, huckleberry, cranberry, rhododendron – and heather.

Why Does Heather Bloom in Winter?

Heather is a low-growing, flowering evergreen shrub. Heather that flowers in winter is likely Erica carnea (actually a type of winter-blooming heath), which grows in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 through 7. Some sources indicate Erica carnea survives in zone 4, and maybe even zone 3 with adequate protection. Alternatively, your winter-blooming heather may be Erica darleyensis, which is hardy to zone 6, or possibly even zone 5 with winter protection.

Why does heather bloom in winter? When it comes to flowering triggers for winter heather, it’s just a matter of caring for your plant. This isn’t difficult, as heather is extremely easy to get along with. Read on for more information about heather blooms in winter.

Caring for Heather That Flowers in Winter

Be sure to locate plants in full sun and well-drained soil, as these are essential growing conditions that are the best flowering triggers for winter heather.

Water heather once or twice a week until the plant is well established, generally, the first couple of years. Thereafter, they will rarely need supplemental irrigation but will appreciate a drink during periods of drought.

If your plant is healthy and growing well, there’s no need to worry about fertilizer. If your plant isn’t thriving or your soil is poor, use a light application of fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants, such as azalea, rhododendron, or holly. Once a year in late winter or early spring is adequate.

Spread 2 or 3 inches (5-8 cm.) of mulch around the plant and replenish as it deteriorates or blows away. Don’t allow the mulch to cover the crown. If your plant will be exposed to severe cold, protect it with straw or evergreen boughs. Avoid leaves and other heavy mulches that may damage the plant. Trim heather lightly as soon as flowers fade in spring.

Winter Heather Varieties and Colors

Erica Carnea varieties:

  • ‘Clare Wilkinson’ – Shell-pink
  • ‘Isabel’ – White
  • ‘Nathalie’ – Purple
  • ‘Corinna’ – Pink
  • ‘Eva’ – Light red
  • ‘Saskia’ – Rosy pink
  • ‘Winter Rubin’ – Pink

Erica x darleyensis varieties:

  • ‘Arthur Johnson’ – Magenta
  • ‘Darley Dale’ – Pale pink
  • ‘Tweety’ – Magenta
  • ‘Mary Helen’ – Medium pink
  • ‘Moonshine’ – Pale pink
  • ‘Phoebe’ – Rosy pink
  • ‘Katia’ – White
  • ‘Lucie’ – Magenta
  • ‘White Perfection’ – White
Mary H. Dyer

A Credentialed Garden Writer, Mary H. Dyer was with Gardening Know How in the very beginning, publishing articles as early as 2007.