Common name: Heather, Ling
All plants in the Calluna genus need acidconditions, and they are excellent for use as ground cover. They vary considerably in height —depending on variety — the tallest reaching 60cm (24in). Flowering takes place in the summer or autumn.
Popular species and varieties
There is just one species, Calluna vulgaris, and hundreds of named varieties, with many types of coloured foliage including gold, grey, bronze, red and purple. Some of those with green foliage change colour during autumn. Flowers are single or double in varying shades of white, pink or purple.
Among the most popular is ‘H. E. Beale’ which covers itself with masses of double bright pinkin late summer and early autumn, and grows to around 45cm (18in) in height. ‘Ruth Sparkes’ is a compact plant with yellow foliage and double white flowers, Another that always attracts attention is ‘Beoley Gold’, the foliage in this case a rich gold, setting off the white flowers. One variety that will usually carry on the display later in the autumn is ‘Kinlochruel’ (AGM); it does not exceed 30cm (12in) in height and has lovely double pink flowers. With so many from which to choose it is always a good idea to make your choice when the plants are in bloom.
Soil type This must be well drained and of an acid type. Adding peat to the soil at planting time is beneficial.
Planting Best carried out in the autumn or spring. Plant so the foliage rests on the ground. Spacing will depend on the variety. Ensure new plants do not suffer from drought during their first year
Maintenance There is little work required throughout the season. Trim over in late winter to remove dead flowers and encourage new growth. Cut back any long straggly stems to keep the plant tidy.
Propagation The easiest method of propagation is by taking cuttings with a heel in early to mid-summer Pinch out the tip and place in a garden frame. Callunas can also be propagated by.
Pests and diseases Callunas can be attacked by a fungus disease that causes die-back. Should this happen it is best to lift the plant and destroy it.