Heaths and Heather Plants – Growing And Caring Guide

Last Updated on April 8, 2024 by Real Men Sow

When to Plant

Heaths and heather plants can be planted in pots at any time during the year, provided the ground is not frozen and waterlogged.

Where to Plant Heaths and Heather Plants

Heathers do best in beds that are completely theirs. You can add conifers or small evergreens to give them height and form a contrast. Heathers can be planted in open areas, along paths or on hillsides. They can be planted in coastal gardens because they are tolerant to salt spray. 

Heathers can be damaged by winter winds and are best avoided in areas that are dry, under trees, or where there is no shade. Heathers are not drought-tolerant and may not be the best choice if your garden has been very dry.


Heaths and heather plants require acidic soil, but preferably moist (but not soggy). Even though they can grow in poor or rocky soil, it is important to make sure the pH is right. Use damp peat moss to amend alkaline or neutral soil. 

Avoid using sedge peat and spent mushroom compost, as they can be too acidic. If you see yellow leaves, it is likely that the soil pH is too acidic for your plants. Double-dig your clay soil to 2 spades depth. 

Add lots of peat or other ericaceous material mixed with one-third sand or grt to improve drainage. Or plant your heathers in a raised bed using equal amounts of compost, bark, peat moss, and sand. This will result in an acidic, free-draining soil. Soggy soil can cause root and stem rot, fungal diseases, and more.


Heather gardening should not be shaded for most or all of the day. Your heather plants should be placed so that the main view is from the south. Because foliage heathers are more vibrant on the southern side, it’s best to do this. 

Heathers should be planted in areas where they can get 6+ hours of sunshine each day to maximize their foliage effect. In hotter regions, heather plants will need afternoon shade. Too much shade can cause blooms to become drab and dull the color of the foliage, making new growth spindly.

Spacing for Heaths and Heather Plants

It is crucial to space the heather plant properly. This will allow for good air circulation and also ensure that each plant can join together over time. To determine the number of heather plants that you will need, multiply your area by 0.44. For a plot 8 feet by 8 feet, 64 x 0.44 = 28 plants. 

You should work in meters, not feet. This means that you will need 5 plants per square meter (4 plants per square yard). Allow for any other plants near you that are not yet mature. For heather planting in a rock garden, you should not use more than one conifer or shrub for every 5 meters (50 feet).


Before planting, loosen the soil. To encourage roots to spread, dig holes twice the size of each plant’s root ball. Once each heather plant has been removed from their pots, gently pull out the roots and place them in the hole. 

Heathers prefer to be planted deep with the lower leaves resting on the soil surface. A little fertilizer that is not burning can be added to the soil to encourage root growth. After planting an acidic organic matter, such as pine straw, leaf mould or peat moss, mulch around the base of your Heathers.

Growing Heaths and Heather Plants in Containers

Use ericaceous soil and/or peat if you are growing heathers inside a container. It is important to keep the compost moist but allow for drainage. To improve drainage, we recommend a layer of 2.5-5 cm (1-2 inches) of grit at your container’s base. 

To improve moisture retention, you might mix the water-retaining gel with your compost. For garden plantings, place your heathers in the compost.

Initial Pruning and Watering

To encourage bushy growth, shear newly planted heathers. For the first three months, water the ground fortnightly to keep it moist but not sodden.

Garden Care for Heaths and Heather Plants


Drought tolerance can be established in 2-3 years after planting. After that, your heather plants will take over. You can water the soil as often as necessary to maintain a uniform moisture level, but not soggy, until then.

Weeding and Feeding

You must ensure that the heather boundary is weed-free. Because heathers are shallow-rooted, it is better to do this by hand than with a hoe. To suppress weeds, apply an annual mulch of bark or peat. Once at planting, fertilize with ericaceous food. 

You don’t usually need to feed the plants again, but if your bloom production drops or the foliage becomes pale, you can reapply the ericaceous food from mid-spring through late winter.

Once the heather plants are established and have filled in the gaps between them they can act as a powerful weed suppressant. Typically, very little weeding is required after the plants become established.

Annual Shearing

You can remove the top third of the foliage growth from your heaths and heather plants in the spring before any buds have set. Also, take out any dead flowers from previous years. 

Your Heathers will be able to grow new foliage, keep their bushy habit, and avoid becoming too thin or woody by removing old stems. The plant will be constantly renewed by this method.

Pests and Diseases

Heaths and Heather Plants are not pest-prone, but they can become powdery mildew-prone if planted too close together or if airflow is reduced. 

Powdery mildew can be treated with a fungus-killer spray. Deer and dogs can also trample on Heathers and can cause serious damage. Be mindful of the location of the plant.

Real Men Sow
Real Men Sow

Hello, I’m Pete and I’m currently based in the west of Scotland, in a small place called Rosneath, where I’m exploring my garden adventures. I personally started gardening around 6 years ago and initially, I started out by growing my favorite fruits and berries, such as strawberries, Raspberries & Gooseberries. Since then I’ve added a lot of vegetables and working closely with my neighbor, it’s been a lot of fun.