The Q&A Archives: heather

Question: please tell me how to grow heather the likes and dislikes when soil to use...thanks Nina

Answer: First make sure you are planting a variety considered winter hardy in your zone. Then select a location that is very well drained, a slight slope or raised bed is often helpful in this regard. The soil must be acidic and not too rich. It must be both well drained but also organic enough to hold moisture evenly. (In general this is not a plant suited to heavy clay based soil even if you try to amend it.) The site should be sunny for at least half the day (preferably all day sun) and have protection from harsh winter winds. The plants should be mulched year round with an organic mulch such as pine bark in a layer several inches thick, and will also probably need evergreen boughs placed over top in mid winter. Since the branches provide some protection to the roots, wait until spring to trim them back. At that time trim as needed to remove any winter damage and cut them back by shearing to a fairly symmetrical shape. As you can tell, these are not easy plants to grow unless you have just the right spot for them.

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