Care for Heather Plants


Heather (Calluna vulgaris) is a compact, rounded plant with purple blooms that grows not only in the heaths and highlands of Scotland, but in other temperate climates, including the northern United States. Heather is an evergreen perennial that stays green year round, but some varieties turn interesting shades of red and orange during the winter months. A versatile plant, heather does well in borders, rock gardens or containers.

Step 1

Plant heather in full sun or partial shade where the plant will be protected from strong winds. Although heather prefers poor soil, it's crucial that the soil drains well, as heather is prone to root rot and disease in moist soil.

Step 2

Water heather regularly during the first year after planting. After the plant is established, water only during hot, dry weather.

Step 3

Prune heather immediately after blooming with pruners or garden shears. Cut just below the spent blooms. Pruning will promote flowering the following year, and will maintain a compact, bushy plant.

Step 4

Fertilize heather in late winter or early spring if the growth slows considerably or the color of the foliage has a dull appearance. Use a granular fertilizer for rhododendrons, applied strictly according to the package directions.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruners or garden shears
  • Granular fertilizer for rhododendrons


  • NC State University: Scottish Heather
  • Heaths and Heathers: Callluna Vulgaris
  • Hume Seeds: Winter Flowering Heather
Keywords: heather plants, prune heather, water heather

About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a long-time writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the East-Oregonian Newspaper and See Jane Run magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.