Heather Or Erica - Which To Choose? Types And Varieties. Photo

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Heather Or Erica - Which To Choose? Types And Varieties. Photo
Heather Or Erica - Which To Choose? Types And Varieties. Photo

Video: Heather Or Erica - Which To Choose? Types And Varieties. Photo

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One of the notable signs of autumn is the appearance of flowering bushes of multi-colored heather in almost every garden center and large supermarket. These miniature "bouquets", densely covered with tiny beaded flowers, are so adorable that they are hard to resist. In the West, heathers are often purchased as living autumn decorations, without thinking about their future fate. But if you plan to make heather or Erica, very similar to it, a full-fledged garden dweller, then the information presented in our article will probably come in handy.

Heather or Erica - which to choose?
Heather or Erica - which to choose?

Content:

  • Heather and Erica - what's the difference?
  • What to choose?
  • Which heather should you choose for your garden?
  • How to choose Erica for the garden?

Heather and Erica - what's the difference?

These plants have a very similar appearance and it can be difficult for a non-professional to distinguish between them. Most importantly, the decisive difference between these plants is the flowering period. Heather, offered in bloom in spring, is actually Erica.

Sellers often pass erika as heathers out of ignorance or deliberately use the fact that the name heather is heard by gardeners. But heather, as a rule, is a plant blooming in autumn (some varieties can bloom in mid-summer), while Erica blooms in spring (approximately from April).

Do not be fooled by the fact that in the fall you can see erika with an abundance of buds on the shelves next to the flowering heathers, as if she is about to bloom. In fact, this phenomenon is a consequence of the physiological characteristics of Erica. She lays buds in autumn, in a temperate climate in the budding phase it goes under the snow, and dissolves them only with the arrival of spring.

Erika and heathers also differ in appearance. Both plants are evergreen low bushes-bunches with spike-shaped inflorescences of white-pink colors.

But if you take a closer look, you will notice that the heather foliage is smaller and in the form of scales, due to which its twigs are a bit reminiscent of lyres. But Erica in a non-flowering form is easy to confuse with a representative of conifers, on its thin branches protruding short needles - "needles" are clearly visible.

By the way, Erica's foliage is also much darker than that of heather, and the bush has a slightly more outstretched creeping shape. In addition, Erica can be distinguished from heather by its smell, since Erica smells quite strongly and specifically (the smell is a bit like dill), but heather does not have such features.

Common heather (Calluna vulgaris)
Common heather (Calluna vulgaris)
Erica cinerea
Erica cinerea

What to choose?

It would seem that this question has an unambiguous answer, if there is a place, then it is better to have both heather crops in the garden. Due to similar requirements for growing conditions, they can be planted in small clumps in the neighborhood, which, due to different flowering periods, successfully complement each other.

But if you have to make a choice between two cultures, then according to gardeners' reviews, heather is a more unpretentious culture that takes root well in the garden. But the cultivation of Erica often turns into failure, although it would seem that all the necessary agrotechnical techniques were followed.

Most likely, this is due to the fact that in supermarkets one of the types of erika most often comes across, which does not winter well in the middle lane, but among heathers there are also often low-winter varieties.

Common heather "Dark Beauty" (Calluna vulgaris 'Dark Beauty')
Common heather "Dark Beauty" (Calluna vulgaris 'Dark Beauty')

Which heather should you choose for your garden?

More often than not, heather turns out to be a spontaneous purchase in the supermarket, where we go there for completely different purposes. In this case, it is impossible to guarantee that the heather will take root in your garden. After all, this culture has a wide range of winter hardiness (from 4 to 6 zones), which varies depending on the variety.

Heathers brought from Europe for sale as temporary autumn decorations usually bear only the Latin genus name 'Calluna' (heather) on the label. In this case, it is not possible to determine which species or variety a particular plant belongs to.

Common heather "Radnor" (Calluna vulgaris 'Radnor')
Common heather "Radnor" (Calluna vulgaris 'Radnor')
Common heather "Silver Knight" (Calluna vulgaris 'Silver Knight')
Common heather "Silver Knight" (Calluna vulgaris 'Silver Knight')

As a rule, low-winter varieties are used for sale in this way, which can survive the winter only under serious shelter, or even die altogether, even if all measures to protect against frost were taken correctly. But perhaps you are really lucky, and the heather bought in the supermarket will be quite winter hardy and will take root in your garden. But it's still a big lottery.

The most common varieties of heather with a high level of winter hardiness (zone 4): "Radnor", "Dark Beauty", "Silver Knight", "Fritz Kircher", "Athena".

Heather has one thing in common with conifers, which makes the choice of planting material difficult. The dead heather, like a dried flower, for a long time does not shed its scales and flowers from the stems. Before you buy heather, you need to check the flexibility of the branches and find out how firmly the scales sit on the stems (in a dead or severely weakened plant, they will easily crumble).

Many varieties of heather are distinguished by interesting coloration of scales, which can be golden or reddish, so unusual coloration is most often not the result of illness or death of the plant.

If possible, it is better to buy and plant heathers at the beginning of summer in a non-flowering state to give them time to root well and adapt in a new place, but the autumn planting of seedlings of winter-hardy varieties with a closed root system is also possible.

Heathers and eriks are acid-loving crops, and if the soil in your garden is not acidic, then they are planted in special soil (sour peat with the addition of coniferous litter and garden soil, or ready-made soil for azaleas). The place should be sunny or slightly shady.

In favorable conditions, heathers grow over time, but to achieve the maximum decorative effect, it is better to plant them initially in groups, acquiring not one seedling, but several specimens of the same color.

Erica ruddy "Winter Beauty" (Erica carnea 'Winter Beauty')
Erica ruddy "Winter Beauty" (Erica carnea 'Winter Beauty')

How to choose Erica for the garden?

The best time to buy Erica is spring, as planted at the beginning of the season, it will have time to take root well, which increases its chances of surviving the winter. Sometimes Erica can be found on sale in the middle of summer. During this period, the plant, covered with faded flowers, looks unsightly, but, as a rule, planting material can be purchased at significantly reduced prices.

But it is also possible to purchase and plant Erica in the fall, because all planting material is sold with a closed root system, when the stress during transplantation is minimal. In addition, in the fall, by the presence of buds, you can estimate how intense the flowering will be next season, and whether the plant will bloom in principle.

Erica carnea 'Vivelli'
Erica carnea 'Vivelli'
Erica carnea 'Ann Sparkes'
Erica carnea 'Ann Sparkes'

The supermarket is not the best place to buy Erica. First of all, this is due to the fact that in such stores only one type of erica of European origin is most often presented - erika darlenskaya, which is not very suitable for the middle lane. Winter hardiness of Erica Darlens is low, and this species does not tolerate temperatures below minus 23 degrees.

Obviously, Erica Darlenskaya will not be able to overwinter in a temperate climate without providing her with a good shelter (preferably air-dry), but often even these measures do not save the plants from death.

If the purchase of Erica was not a spontaneous acquisition, but is a thoughtful decision, then it is better to look for planting material in nurseries or specialized stores. In this case, it is better to opt for other types of erika, with a higher level of winter hardiness.

In particular, these include erika ruddy (herbal). This type of erika has many varieties, many of which will survive the winter of the middle lane with a slight cover of spruce branches or even without it, because in terms of winter hardiness, they belong to zone 4 (up to -34 degrees) or zone 5 (up to -28 degrees).

A similar level of winter hardiness is also possessed by such species as four-dimensional erica (cruciferous) and gray erica (gray-gray).

Before making a purchase, always check with the seller, or on the Internet, the level of winter hardiness of a particular variety. Popular varieties of Erica herbal (zone 4-5): Golden Scarlet, Winter Beauty, Viveli, Ann Sparkes.

Erica, like heather, may not shed the needles for a long time after she died. Therefore, it is important to check that the branches are elastic and not brittle, and that the needles have not a grayish dull, but a rich color with a slight sheen.

In many cases, yellowed “needles” can be a varietal feature, but if the needles crumble heavily, then most likely the plant is undergoing severe stress, or has already died.

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