Heaths and heather are an easy to grow, flowering evergreen. Though they are very similar in form, color, and growing habits their winter hardiness is differs greatly. Heather is much more hardy than heath. While heather is hardy in zone 5-7, heath does requires at least a zone rated 7-9 to survive year to year.
The foliage of both heather and heath can vary as it can range from many shades of green to yellow, orange or red. seasonal change in color occur. For example, the Calluna vulgaris ‘firefly’ with its copper colored summer foliage changes to red in the winter. They generally grow as low spreading groundcovers or low mounding forms.
Though both can tolerate part shade, they prefer full sun. Planted in the shade they will become leggy and will not flower as profusely. Along with sun, heath and heather prefer a well drained, slightly acidic soil.
Heaths and heathers are ideal for a lower border or hedge. They are also well suited as a companion plant to rhododendrons and dwarf evergreens.
To plant, follow typical planting techniques. Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball. Before planting slice the root around the root ball in a few spots to encourage root growth. Be sure to set in the hole so the top of the root ball meets the existing grade if the garden. Water after planting do not let them dry out, especially immediately after planting. Water deeply once a week during the hot summer months. In colder climate where the plants may be borderline hardy, protection may be required. If this is the case, place cover the plants with hay. When mulching the garden in spring avoid smothering the plants, in fact its best to avoid letting the much touch the trunk of the plant.
Winter blooming, low growing heaths and heathers do require much pruning. The summer blooming varieties, which grow more upright will become unruly if not pruned occasionally. Pruning should be done in either early spring or after they flower.