Cultivation and varieties of heath
Family of heather they unite not only Pieria, rhododendrons and kalmii but also many small shrubs.
Among them, the most attractive for decorative gardening are Heather, Erica and Dabecia - outwardly they are quite similar to each other, and they are easy to confuse. And although their agricultural technology is very close, there are still some differences that everyone who wants to plant these amazing plants in their garden should know.
To begin with, let's talk about the differences between the types of eric that are often found on sale and their main and closest relative - the heather ordinary. At first glance, these plants are so similar to each other that it is easy to confuse them for the ignorant buyer, and the seller.
The right choice of plants for planting
This is often what happens in stores when you read the name of the plant or hear from the sellers of spontaneous seasonal markets: "This is the winter heather, do not doubt!"
And it's good, if you mean the synonym of the erika ruddy, and not the capricious Eric ashy, which happens much more often. In fact, it is not difficult to distinguish between these two completely different kinds.
First, let's compare the leaves and the shape of the flowers. Heather leaves are scaly, densely sitting on the branch in pairs, flowers on short pedicels are collected in the brush inflorescences. Erica, as a rule, is characterized by needle-like juniper, narrowed to the base of leaves and elongated, tubular in shape flowers.
It is also possible to distinguish these plants by the time of flowering. Heather blossoms only at the end of summer, and in the most common and hardy Erica meat-red flowering occurs in early spring, and under winter it goes strewn with buds.
By the way, Cantabrian it's even easier to distinguish. The shape of the leaves resembles a pointed oval, not a needle, like Erica or heather. The leaves are leathery, dark green, shiny, the bottom of the leaf plate has a bluish pubescence. Her flowers, similar to large bells at the ends of the shoots, stand out noticeably. Compared to Erica and heather, the inflorescences are very loose, in the original species they are mostly pale pink. But you can find on sale varieties with white and carmine-red color.
Erica are summer-blooming (late summer - autumn) and winter-blooming. In colder regions, winter Erica blooms in late spring, late April - early May. Descriptions of this kind should begin with the most stable in the harsh regions of Russia Erica herbal.
This is a low, evergreen, creeping shrub, the height of 15-25 cm, depending on the plant variety. The leaves are collected in four in the whorl, depending on the variety can be from yellow to dark green. Blooms from April to the end of May. The palette of flowers includes white and all shades of red, from pink to purple.
Winter heather (right) and Erica grass - photo
The next in terms of winter hardiness is the four-dimensional erika (E. tetralix). In nature it grows on peat meadows, moss bogs in many European countries, from Spain to Finland.
These are small (up to 50 cm) compact shrubs with gray-green foliage blooming from summer to autumn. Dirty pink flowers are found in dense, almost capitate umbrellas located at the ends of elongated shoots up to 25 cm. There are about 50 varieties.
No less popular is Erica Darlienskaya (E. darleyensis) - one of the "daughters" of Erica rosy. This is a fairly squat shrub, in culture reaches a height of 25-30 cm. The leaves are dark green, needle-shaped, up to 1 cm long. Purple flowers are collected in flat, one-sided inflorescences. However, her winter hardiness is still considered low.
The secrets of the success of growing heather
Active sale of heather starts in April-May, when the blooming erika blossoms. In the second half of summer, it is easiest to buy heather and its varieties, as well as the dabe and other specified ericas. You can buy heather in spring and early autumn, until mid-September.
Look for an open, sunny place for them. And light peaty soil with a good addition of sand and a high pH level - up to 7. However, there are secrets that you need to know in order to ensure abundant flowering.
Thus, the superficial and shallow root system of these shrubs does not require digging a deep pit, but its width is of considerable importance. This means that even on heavy clay soils it is enough to dig a hole 20-35 deep and up to 40 cm wide, lay a drainage layer on the bottom (3-5 cm) and fill the pit with a peat-sand mixture with the addition of pine litter in the ratio 2: 1 : 1.
Such an earth mixture is both light and water permeable at the same time. Owners of the poor in the composition of soils during planting should be added a handful of full mineral or special fertilizer for rhododendrons.
A few tips for buying heather
- Pay attention when buying all heath: the pot should not be over-dried.
- If you have purchased a plant that has already been dried, there is little chance of surviving: all heath are sensitive to drought.
- Foliage should not be dull and brittle, a good sign are new shoots.
Varieties of Erica
Among the most famous and experienced varieties of herbal it is worth noting:
- “March Seedling” - upright, wide bush up to 20 cm tall, with pink-white flowers and dark green leaves;
- “Myretoun Ruby” - shrub up to 20 cm tall, with purple-pink flowers of various brightness, buds are brick red, leaves are dark green;
- "Vivellii" - a straight bush up to 20 cm tall, with lilac-red flowers. Leaves are reddish green in early spring, bronze green in late autumn.
Note: If you have never grown rhododendrons and heathers, start standing with species plants (taken from nature).
Variety plants brought from nurseries with a milder and humid climate are too capricious. In addition to the often-sold evergreen rhododendrons, for our winters get beautiful-flowering deciduous species: rhododendron Shlippenbach and Dahur from East Asia, as well as Canadian, Kamchatka and others.
You can plant and any of the order of 300 varieties of heather ordinary, which mainly grow in the form of evergreen creeping shrubs with a height of 10-40 cm. Depending on the variety, the flowers can be from white to purple and gray leaves, and in autumn and winter, yellow, orange and almost Red.
Some varieties bloom in early August, others in September and October, and flowering can last several months.
2-4-year-old bushes grown in containers are best adopted. The purchase and disembarkation of heather is worth planning for the spring.
Heather Care - Calendar
Heather ordinary - not such a rare plant in the middle band of Russia.
In nature, it occurs in fairly large areas. But, strangely enough, in private gardens is practically not grown. And it is all the more regrettable that the plant is completely unpretentious, completely frost-resistant, never damaged by pests, does not suffer from diseases and has dozens of the finest varieties. But the heather has its own characteristics, its little secrets, the knowledge of which will allow you to admire the flowering heathers in your own garden for many years.
Care for heathers begins after melting snow, usually in April. At this time, it is necessary to cut the bushes to the height of the faded peduncles. It is important to do this before the shoots start growing with the onset of heat, otherwise we will break the energy of growth, thereby damaging the heathers. At the same time, it is necessary to remove all dried up and broken shoots. If the bushes were squeezed out of the soil in winter, they should be pressed again, and if necessary, reinstalled. It is important that the root neck is not above and not below the soil level.
In this case, you can add fresh soil, which will include compost or deciduous humus, sand and sour peat. Around the bushes it is useful to update the layer of mulch. The best material for mulching the heather is not a very large pine bark. You can use chopped chips, gravel and other stone crumbs, except for those that contain lime or dolomite.
With the arrival of spring warmth, usually in May, heathers should be fed with special fertilizers for rhododendrons and hydrangeas, which have an acidic reaction; for normal life, heathers need a pH of 3,5 - 5,5. Fertilizers can be liquid or granular; you can use universal complete complex fertilizers with microelements.
and the soil is periodically acidified by surface application of sour peat or colloidal sulfur (in accordance with the recommendation of the application rate indicated on the package).
It is categorically impossible to use fresh organic matter to fertilize heathers. Only well-rotted compost and leaf humus, as well as coniferous-deciduous “litter” from the forest, are allowed.
In June, if there is dry weather without rain, the heather should be watered, because there is an active increase in young shoots. With insufficient soil moisture, the bushes will become poorly built up, losing in volume. At the same time, we need to ensure that they do not overgrow with weeds, and neighboring plants (especially ground cover) do not inhibit their growth.
In July, the need for additional watering is not as relevant as in the beginning of summer, because there is an active formation of flower buds at the ends of young shoots. Excess moisture will inhibit this process. Heather blossoms at the ends of the current year's gains. In different varieties the length of the flowering part is not the same and varies from 5 to 10 cm.
If the growth of flowering shoots is inactive, it is possible to stimulate this process by introducing nitrogen-free top dressing. It is best to use for this purpose magnesium sulphate, calimagnesium or monopotassium phosphate. Any top dressing can be used only on wet soil - after rain or watering.
At this time the heathers are not fed, and watered only if there is a prolonged heat without rain. In late July, some, especially early varieties of heaths can bloom, but abundant, mass flowering begins in August. The early and medium varieties of heather are blossoming. In classic varieties, simple and double flowers gradually open widely and are colored in pink, red, purple and white hues. Such heathers look bright and expressive as long as their flowers are open.
Through 3 - 4 weeks the intensity of color gradually decreases, and the flowers become the same grayish-brown color. In modern varieties with non-blooming flowers, which still remain in the form of dense buds, the flowers are small, similar to small beads, but they usually retain their bright color for a long time.
In September the heathers blossom abundantly and luxuriantly, late and middle varieties are added late. At this time, no watering, no fertilizing is required. It is necessary to watch only that the beginning autumn leaf fall does not hide the heather very tightly, and if necessary, in time to remove from the bush falling leaves.
In October, there are frequent night frosts, snow may fall repeatedly, but these first zazimki heather are not terrible. They belong to the cold-resistant evergreen plants and meet the cold without loss. We continue to collect only the foliage falling from the trees, making sure that it does not cover the heathers with a thick layer. If the layer of mulch under the plants is markedly reduced, it is useful to resume it, pouring up to the level of 3 - 4, see.
In November, if there is still a moderately cold weather without snow, the heathers still retain their decorativeness, being the best ornament of the autumn garden. Many varieties stand out in the garden that has lost its color, not only due to flowering, but also due to the expressiveness of the colored foliage.
Indeed, today, in addition to varieties with bright green foliage, there are varieties with leaves of yellow, orange, bronze, blue and silver. Before the onset of a stable snow cover, you can have time to cut the heathers to the height of the faded peduncles, without affecting the perennial wood. This is worth doing, if in the spring you can get to your garden not earlier than May holidays. If you have the opportunity to prune the heaths at any time, as soon as the snow in the spring, then in the fall you can not do this procedure, so as not to weaken the bushes.
DECEMBER - MARCH
From December to March, the heathers confidently winter during the snow, no additional shelter is required. Not very often, but still sometimes there are such weather deviations, when the winter begins with severe frosts with no minimum snow cover. In such extreme winters it is necessary to take extra care of heathers, covering them with coniferous lapnik, lutrasil or any other synthetic (non-rotting) nonwoven material.
SECRETS OF SUCCESS
Heathers achieve maximum decorativeness in areas with light, acidic soil, moderately moist and moderately nutritious. An important condition, the observance of which will allow us to have annual abundant flowering, is to plant them in a well-lit place.
If during the spring and summer the heathers received a lot of sunlight, and in the heat-sufficient watering, they will rejoice with flowering from August to the coldest and even under the snow will leave with flowers. In order that the heather heathers do not fall apart over the years, and the bushes always remain dense and compact, they need to be cut every year to the height of the faded stems.
Plants are always sold in containers, that is, with a closed root system, so they can be planted in the garden at any time from spring to autumn. Still, it is more reliable to do this in the spring, so that young plants can adapt well for the summer and prepare for the winter.
From nature to take heather for planting in the garden can not be categorically. Simply because such a forced transplant they suffer very badly and most likely in a new place they will not get accustomed. These plants are particularly good in large tracts, selected according to varieties and planted with large spots. They are organically combined with coniferous plants, grasses, dwarfish and weeping deciduous forms of trees and shrubs. In such joint plantings, a successful, natural addition will be mulching scum, snags, spits of trees, stone blocks with spectacular "ragged" edges.
Growing heathers in the garden - a personal experience
Lights of heather in the snow
I got the plot, like many in Soviet times, on the site of a poorly drained peat bog. Much effort has gone into making this ruinous place livable. Land reclamation, drainage, soil filling and other measures have yielded results. But the soil remains acidic, although I have been forming a new layer for many years.
However, each position has its advantages. Acidic soil is ideal soil for heathers. They became the main decoration of my garden.
THEY ARE DIFFERENT
For sure many saw pink and purple wild heathers on burs, marshes and wastelands. Cultural varieties already number about 300, and every year there are new ones. Some of them originate from northern European species, therefore they are distinguished by high frost resistance and excellent wintering in the open ground in the Central Russia and the Northwest.
Others came from the Mediterranean countries and even from North Africa. These varieties are of particular beauty. Among them there are forms with double flowers and buds, in which the bells do not open, but retain a round shape; with golden, silvery, orange, bronze, variegated leaves. I In our conditions, they are quite capricious and can be successfully grown in container culture. Such plants must be arranged for wintering in a cold, but not freezing room.
For beginners, it makes sense to dwell on the most unpretentious varieties, only later, after understanding the "nature" of culture, to supplement the collection with more interesting specimens.
NEIGHBORS OF ACID SEMEN
Heather is very dressed almost all year round. In the spring and summer, the bushes resemble miniature conifers, from late July to October they delight in lush flowering. Under winter, heather leaves with withered, but not lost brightness flowers, which for a long time seemingly peek out from under the snow.
Lights of heather in the snow in winter!
Perfect companions for the heathers are ornamental evergreen plants: junipers, thuja, stanza forms of pine. However, from early spring to mid-summer, the monotony of the green needles and the heather's curls should be supplemented with bright spots of flowers. True, the latter do not like the high acidity of the soil. How to be?
You can fill the planting sites of flowers and heather with different soils: a neutral fertile soil for the first and an acidic peat substrate for the second. This solution is suitable for alpine slides and other complex structures with several divided volumes of soil.
You can combine planting in the ground with the installation of plants in containers. At the same time, flowers can be changed with the change of the season.
But the easiest option is to collect different lovers of acidic soil on one flower bed. First of all, you should pay attention to Erica, a close relative of heather, blooming from April to mid-pet. Rhododendrons also bloom in spring, among which there are many winter-hardy forms. Of herbaceous plants, cinquefoil, leotard, small onion primroses (galanthus, pushkinia, scyll) are suitable.
The decorative mulching will complete the design of the flowerbed with heathers. Particularly elegant look colored sand, gravel, marble chips. The best mulch is both pleasant for the eyes and useful for plants - pine bark, needles, sawdust of conifers.
REMAIN THE FIRST ZIMU
The most difficult period for heathers is the 1st year after transplanting. Like most plants of the heather family, ornamental heather lives in symbiosis with fungi that help absorb nutrients from acid peat. Therefore, until the root mushrooms adapt to the new habitat, the heather bush will feel very uncomfortable.
Seedlings should be bought only in containers, when transplanting layering - minimize contact of the roots with air. The best soil composition: a mixture of peat, litter, sand and garden soil in a ratio of 3: 1: 1: 1. Additionally, the soil before planting should be poured with a solution of vinegar (a glass of 10 liters of water) or citric acid (3 tsp. Per 10 liters of water). Landings must be mulched with pure peat or with fine sawdust.
In the first summer, heather should be watered frequently and plentifully (while avoiding stagnation of water) and slightly shaded from the bright sun. Fertilizers in the 1st year are undesirable, in the future it is better to use special ones - marked "for azaleas, rhododendrons and heathers."
For the winter, the bushes need to be highly burdened with peat and covered with lapnik, dry leaves and spunbond. In subsequent years, shelter will be required only for varieties with poor winter hardiness. Forming and sanitary trimming of the heaths is carried out in the spring.
© Author: Nina KOVALCH UK, Moscow Region.
© Author: Valeria Ilyina, Landscape Designer
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