Heather is a sturdy perennial plant that has become a favorite in many parts of the United States. Known also as Scotch Heather it is a versatile and adaptable ground cover, most known for its beauty on the moors of England. These shrubby plants are available in several varieties and sizes to accommodate landscapes of all types. Their dainty flowers provide color during the hot summer months and their evergreen, needlelike foliage contributes to the winter landscape. A bonus is that heather dries beautifully, lingering for years in wreaths and bouquets.
Size: There are many varieties of heather available these days. Most of them grow from 18 to 24 inches tall, however, some types may grow as tall as 3 feet, others only to 1 foot. Two very lowing growing types grow only 4 to 6 inches tall. The most common heathers tend to be billowy in shape, spreading about 2/3 their height. Hybrid types grow stiffly upright.
Foliage: Heather foliage is evergreen. Its leaves are needle-like, growing four at a time from closely spaced nodes along the stiff, interlaced stems. They give a feathery appearance to the plant. They are about 1/2 inch long. Depending on the variety of heather, foliage may be yellow, gray, shades of green, or rusty red.
Flowers and Fruit: Heather blooms in late summer and early fall. Its flowers are tiny and bell-shaped, crowded along the stems. Some kinds have double flowers. Scotch heather flowers are a pinkish lavender, but the many hybrid varieties of heather offer white, lavender, crimson and purple flowers as well.
`Blazeaway' has lilac flowers, and golden summer foliage turning orange-red in winter; `Gold Haze' has white flowers and gold foliage, grows to 24 inches; `H.E. Beale' spreads readily, has larger double pink flowers, good for drying; `Kinlochruel' is compact, has double white flowers; `Mullion' is only 12 inches with deep pink flowers and bright green foliage; `White Knight' has lavender flowers and gray foliage; `Foxii Nana' has purple flowers, grows to only 4 inches.