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Irish Heather

by Malachy - Horticulturist CountryLife Dungarvan | Sep 09, 2016
Irish Heather

If you have ever visited a bog or the mountains, you will know that heathers grow extremely well in the Irish climate. It is no surprise then that people are really gravitating towards them as an easy to care for garden plant.

Gardeners who were around in the 80’s will remember the very common combination of heathers and conifers together. This style of planting has since fallen out of trend and gardeners are now using heathers by themselves to create great low maintenance beds or incorporating them in to floral borders to add seasonal interest and texture.

At the moment in CountryLife we have a wide range of different Irish grown heathers from Doran’s Nurseries in County Kildare. Since they have arrived in the store it is safe to say that they have proven popular with customers. Some love them for their weed suppression qualities, while others love them for their texture and seasonal colour. Either way - you get an extremely hard working plant that requires very little looking after.

Garden girls is a double coloured heather

As is the case with gardeners, we are always after something slightly different for our gardens. An unusual and extremely popular type of heather over the past few years has been Garden Girls or Garden Twins. These are two double coloured heathers that have both pink and white flowers in the one pot. I find customers love them for pots or window boxes to add winter colour alongside some ivy and winter flowering bedding plants.

One of the most important things for growing good quality heathers is the soil type they are planted in. Heathers prefer an ericaceous soil (acidic soil). In essence, there are two main types of heathers that you can grow - Calluna Heathers and Erica Heathers. Calluna do not like limey soil one bit and just won't grow for you if the soil is not the right pH. Erica on the other hand can tolerate a slightly limey soil, but it still would perform better in an acidic soil.

A worthwhile step before you buy your plants would be to check your soil type. This is a good idea in general for all gardeners to do to ensure they get the best from the plants they are putting in their garden. You can pick up easy to use soil testing kits in most garden centres.

If your soil is limey based, there are a number of things you can do so you can still grow heathers. Building a raised bed is an option which allows you to fill the planting area with ericaceous soil or you can grow heathers in pots or containers very well - they will just need to be kept watered during dry weather. Alternatively, you can also buy slow release feed which lasts for up to six months and will alter the pH of your soil for you.

Heather is a good low maintenance option

In terms of maintenance there is little work to do with heathers and they tend to look after themselves to be honest, which is why I always recommend them to people looking for a good low maintenance plant. One quick job to carry out once a year is to give the plants a quick trim with hedge clippers as soon as the flowers have finished flowering. This will help to maintain the plants overall shape and appearance of the plant and encourage new growth for the following year.

Written by Malachy

Here to help! - remember if you have any questions feel free to pop into one of our garden centres or you can contact us on our Facebook and Twitter pages and email us at:

Malachy's Bio 
I have been gardening since I was 5 years old when my mother gave me a part of our garden as my own. I have studied horticulture in the National Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin and was a winner in the young horticulturist of the year competition. I have worked in Several plant nurseries and garden centers such as Mount Congreve in Co. Waterford. My special interests are plant propagation and Cacti!

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