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Calluna vulgaris - heather

Calluna vulgaris - heather



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Question: Calluna vulgaris - heather

Good morning! I recently bought 2 white heather / calluna seedlings, I put them in my 60cm tub on the balcony with their soil, water (not calcareous), south position. After 10 days a plant is still beautiful and flourishing while its neighbor is dry, it has lost its flowers, I'm afraid it is dead! What could have happened when I treated them the same way? Too little or too much water or what else? And then you recommend liquid or slow release fertilizer. Thanks if you can answer me. I rediscovered a great passion for plants and I'm trying to turn my thumb green, but then these things happen to me and what a disappointment! bye and have a good day


Answer: Calluna vulgaris - heather

Dear Sabrina good morning, we thank you for asking us your question and we hope to be of help in your rediscovery passion for gardening. Apparently from the description he proposed regarding the cultivation of heather it does not seem that he made big mistakes. Both the exposure, the soil and the water used for watering have been chosen correctly.

The hypothesis that comes to us regarding the death of one of the two heather plants is that perhaps the plant was already sick when he bought it in the nursery, unless it has excessively abundant with watering exclusively on one of the two plants. .

Probably the dead heather had already been attacked by fungi that caused a radical rot, imperceptible in the epigeal part even if it is devastating the plant in the hypogeal part. Another possible cause could be prolonged water stress to which only the plant that died was subjected. When the heather is left without water for some time it is difficult to recover; even if outwardly it does not give great signs of imminent desiccation, a heather plant that has suffered a strong water stress is already decaying despite the flowers and leaves still appearing healthy. The death of the plant in fact comes quickly and abruptly with the sudden fall of flowers and leaves.

Finally, as regards the fertilizer to be used, we highly recommend the slow release granular fertilizer. The effects and characteristics of the two fertilizers are very similar in reality but the granular fertilizer gives more safety: using the granular fertilizer we do not run the risk of forgetting to "feed" our plant. We therefore recommend the slow release fertilizer mainly for convenience.



Belonging to the family of Ericaceae, the Calluna is also known as heather, is a typical plant of the Swedish heaths.

It's a evergreen rustic which, depending on the variety, can vary in height, from 45 to 90 cm.

With a bushy habit, this shrub has:

  • a foliage luxuriant formed by thick branches l
  • the leaves they are small imbricate, persistent, simple, needle-like, arranged on 4 lines along the branches.
  • the flowers they are spike-shaped, small bellflowers supported by a membranous chalice. They can come in different shades of color, from white to pink, from scarlet red to purple.
  • the fruits they are capsules divided into 4 lodges containing very small dark seeds.

Etymology of calluna vulgaris

The name derives from the Greek kallýnō, which means 'to sweep', while vulgaris derives from the Latin adjective 'common'.

Clear reference to the fact that, since ancient times, its branchy branches were used to make brooms.

Habitat of the calluna vulgaris

Very common in cold and temperate-cold areas of Europe, Western Siberia, Asia Minor and America. In Italy it is common in central-northern areas, rare in the central Apennines, absent in the south and islands.

It grows in well-drained acidic soils, in full sun or partially in shade. It is a common component of the moorland habitat.


Facts About Heather Flowers

  • Heather flowers come from the Family of plants Ericaceae (3).
  • They are considered to be dwarf shrubs and cannot grow that tall (4).
  • Heather flowers come from the genus Calluna vulgaris, whereas, Heath flowers come from the genus, Heather.
  • The word Calluna comes from a Greek word that means '' To purify '', and the word Vulgaris comes from Latin and it means''Common' '.
  • The meaning of heather flowers includes luck, strength and admiration, depending on the color.
  • Both Calluna vulgaris and Heather types of flowers are native to Europe and South Asia, but they can also be found in some parts of North America, Turkey, and Morocco (5).
  • Even though they prefer to grow on the mountains' cliffs, they also thrive in sandy and rocky soils.
  • The English name of Heather comes from an old English word '' Hather ''. This meant that it was a field that was full of beautiful and striking flowers.
  • Also, this flower has been used in rural populations and in poor regions in order to make many items, such as brooms, roofs, bedding, and baskets.
  • Each heather flower can have up to 30 seeds, so this also means that they can easily propagate (6).

So, when talking about Heather flowers one is mentioning and grouping two genera of plants which are the Heathers and the Heaths, even though they both come from the same Ericaceae family.

Therefore, because they are two different subtypes they are also botanically different, and this can be seen in the ways that the Calluna genus and the Heather genus grow.


Calluna cultivation

  • Exposure: calluna plants grown in the ground must be planted in semi-shaded places, while those grown in pots require bright exposures and fresh environments.
  • Ground: prefers soft, loose, well-drained soil with a slightly acidic pH such as azalea and hydrangea.
  • Watering: it should be watered in moderation with non-calcareous water preferably rain or at least decanted for at least one day. The water supplies must be made when the soil is slightly dry. Plants grown in pots should be watered more frequently.
  • Fertilization: Calluna requires a fresh soil rich in organic substance and therefore must be fertilized at least 2-3 times a year with slow release granular fertilizer or every 21 days, from vegetative restart, with a specific liquid fertilizer for flowering plants rich in nitrogen , phosphorus and potassium.


Broom plant

An accurate study concerning this small shrub was carried out in 1808 by the English botanist John Hull, who did not even have to find a new scientific name for the genus and for the only species that is part of it, as another botanist, Richard Salisbury , a few years earlier, he had created the genre Calluna: it was enough to add the specific name vulgaris, which refers to the extreme spread of the plant. The curious generic name derives instead from the Greek verb kallyno (I clean, sweep), since the heather, well known for centuries, had always been used to make rustic brooms and house brooms, thanks to the flexibility and strength of its twigs.


Video: How to Grow Scotch Heather Calluna Vulgaris