As we welcome autumn we look for ways we can brighten our gardens during the dark months ahead. Autumn and winter colour is a welcome addition to any garden. However, plants that can withstand the harsh weather during our winter months can be hard to find at this time of year. One plant that can withstand the harsh Irish winter is heather. Hence, the September plant of the month is autumn and winter flowering heather.
Heather provides reliable and long lasting colour. It come in a wide selection of colours. These include the bright yellow foxhollow and the white flowers on white perfection. Myretoun ruby offers a deep red flower and vivillia, a beautiful shade of pink. It looks fantastic if it is planted in groups, of the same colour. Under-planting the heather with spring-flowering bulbs compliments the heather beautifully. Snowdrops, dwarf daffodils, crocus and winter aconites are all fabulous options. Dwarf conifers and dwarf flowering shrubs could also be planted between the groups. This offers variety and structure to pots and beds.
Heather will flower from October right through until late April, irrespective of weather conditions. Surprisingly, the colder the winter, the longer the heather will flower.
Heather is a plant which attracts bees. Its purple, bell-shaped flowers produces nectar which is notoriously popular among bees. Irish heather honey, the honey made from the heather plant has multiple health benefits. It is high in antioxidant, antibacterial, antidiabetic and anti-inflammatory properties. Interestingly, research shows that Irish heather honey has multiple disease–fighting compounds. It has as many disease–fighting compounds as New Zealand’s famous manuka honey. What’s not to love about the heather plant?
Where To Plant:
With their wide colour range and long blooming period, heathers are ideal for providing autumnal decoration. They can be planted in numerous locations:
- directly in the ground
How To Plant:
- Heathers should be paired with other suitable plants. These include winter flowering pansies, violas and cyclamen. They can also be under-planted with spring flowering bulbs including dwarf daffodils, scented hyacinths and tulips.
- Use an ericaceous compost.
- Plant heathers in groups of the same colour, for a striking colour effect.
How To Care For Heather:
Heathers are easy to care for and they provide you with a long flowering period. They require little or no feeding, just water to keep them moist. If needed, apply a dressing of fertiliser in March and May to encourage new growth. Once they flower, trim them lightly.