The Right Place
Most at home in the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast, heather is able to withstand winters as far north as the Great Lakes and the Canada border. It is a good plant for the seashore, and does well along the Atlantic Coast well into New England (zone 4). It can handle winter temperatures as low as –10 F, even lower if it is planted on a site with southern exposure and is given some protection over the winter. Heather is not comfortable in the hotter climates in regions south of Tennessee and Arkansas or along the coast of Virginia and the Carolinas (zone 7).
Heathers require lots of sun to bloom. Locate them in the open in soil that is quite acid (pH 4.0 to 6.0). They thrive in soil that is poor, very fertile soil causing them to become weak and leggy. Add generous amounts of peat moss to acidify soil, and sand to improve drainage of clay type soils.
Heathers should be planted in the spring. Buy 2-year old plants in containers from a nursery to assure that they will bloom in the first season. Remove the plant from its container and gently loosen any cramped roots. Dig a hole wide enough to accommodate the roots and to a depth equal to that of the container. Settle the plant in the hole, taking care that it is at the same level with the soil that it was in its container. Fill the hole with soil mixed with peat moss, firming it gently over the roots. Water generously at this time and every few days for a week or two unless there is rain. Do not fertilize heather. Space plants 18 to 30 inches apart, depending on the variety.
For more information see file on Planting Shrubs.
The Right Place