Heidegarten: Tips for design and care

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The sparse and spacious nature of the heath radiates tranquility and has always exerted a special charm on humans. So why not create a moorland in miniature? The robustness, diversity and low care requirements of the heather family speak for their own heather garden. With good planning, you can enjoy the delicate bright flowers throughout the year. The hay garden is also a valuable habitat for birds and insects. Typical heather species for the garden are: English heather (Erica x darleyensis), Cornwall heather (Erica vagans), bell heather (Erica tetralix), gray heather (Erica cinera), snow heather (Erica carnea), broom heather (Calluna vulgaris) and Irish heather (Daboecia cantabrica).

The big heather garden

For outspoken hawkers or owners of large gardens, it pays to give the Heidegarten a hundred square meters of space. Ideally, the garden is free, open to wind and sun. Here are just the robust varieties to develop full beauty. Sun is a basic requirement for the heather garden. From March, no later than April, it should be at least two-thirds of the day in the sun, but at least during the main flowering of Calluna, Erica cinera and Erica Vagans varieties. The terrain of a heather garden should be staggered slightly hilly. How to achieve a certain depth effect.
A good place for the Heidegarten is directly in front of the terrace: if it is higher, you let the area first fall into a valley. In the middle of a small pond can be created, which leads to a path. Behind it, the terrain rises again, it should be at least as high as the terrace. Include boulders, tree trunks, tree roots or railway sleepers to give the hay garden additional shape and structure. The paths can be made with bark mulch, natural paving or simply with sand. Sandy roads have the most natural character, but unfortunately they quickly became weedy.

Calluna bud bloomer

Calluna buds are especially resistant to frost, snow and rain. The flowers of this breed remain stuck in the bud stage and do not open

plant selection

In the first place, regardless of the color choice, you should be careful to arrange heather plants with different flowering periods. The flowers of snow heath (Erica carnea) and English heather (Erica x darleyensis) start in January and last until spring. From summer to fall, gray heather (Erica cinera), cornvall heath (Erica vagans), bells heath (Erica tetralix), broom heather (Calluna vulgaris) and Irish heather (Daboecia cantabrica) bloom. Some heather plants such as the broom heath (Calluna vulgaris) are also characterized by attractive foliage color. In addition, you should pay attention to how large the respective heather variety, so it does not obscure neighboring plants.

From the hay garden to the pot planting

If you have less space in the garden, you do not have to do without heath. Separated by a path or lawn from the rest of the garden, you can already realize a small heath on ten square meters with several heaths, two to three small conifers or shrubs and perhaps with a few dwarf rhododendrons. Maybe even a boulder and a mini pond have room. On even smaller areas, the use of flat-growing varieties, which spread carpet or form small pillows. There is, for example, Calluna vulgaris 'moorland dwarf' (purplish lilac), which even crawls over stones or Erica carnea 'ruby carpet' (ruby red) that forms compact pads. Heather plants are of course also suitable for planting pots. If the bucket is protected, you can put in some more delicate heather species such as Irish heather (Daboecia cantabrica), gray heather (Erica cinerea) or Cornwall heather (Erica vagans). It fits a dwarf conifer or grass (eg blue-bellied Festuca ovina 'kingfisher').


Heather in the smallest space: A pot garden with Erika

Of course, not only heather plants grow in a heather garden. Juniper, small pines and spruces, birch, broom and rhododendrons are suitable companions. Also pretty are fruity small shrubs such as the cranberry and the partridge (Gaultheria procumbens). Beautiful accents can be set with grasses such as blue grass and whistling grass or with perennials such as cat paw, thyme, heather, yarrow, thistle and mullein. In the spring, bring life to the heather garden with bulbous flowers such as snowdrops, wild daffodils, crocuses and wild tulips.

Heather plants with pine

Pines are the ideal companion for heather plants

soil preparation

Before you start planting, remove all weeds from the surface and loosen the soil. Heather plants need acid soil. The pH should be below 6, better below 5.The bell heather (Erica tetralix) even tolerates a pH of 4. If the pH is above 6, you should replace the entire soil about 40 cm deep. If the value is just above this limit, it is often sufficient to incorporate a large amount of peat into the top soil layer (about 5 to 10 cubic meters per 100 square meters). Here you have to apply new peat or forest soil regularly. Some heather species such as broom heath, gray heather or snow heath like it rather dry, here you should also incorporate sand into the soil.

Planting time and planting distance

The ideal planting time is mid-September to the end of October and again mid-March to mid-April. Rooted cuttings are best planted in late April to early May. If the heather is planted in November or December, it no longer has the opportunity to root properly - with frost, there is a risk that the plants will freeze to high levels.

The planting density depends on several factors: the type and variety, the size of the heather garden and the soil condition. For example, six to eight plants per square meter are sufficient for strongly growing plants, and twice that for weakly growing plants. On sandy, lean sandy soil, where the plants do not grow so fast, you plant slightly denser than on nutrient-rich soils. In smaller plants, which should make a finished impression quickly, also something must be planted somewhat narrower. Important: Always place the heather plants deeper in the ground than they used to. So they get hold and form new roots just below the surface of the earth. Good pressure and strong casting are a matter of course.


The individual heather plants are distributed on the bed. The planting distance depends among other things on the type and variety of the plants


Even if the heath grows on extremely poor soil at the natural site, it must be fertilized in the heather garden, because here are usually more sophisticated varieties and the growth conditions are rarely as optimal as in nature. It is advisable to incorporate some organic fertilizer such as compost or horn shavings when planting. Fertilize should be repeated annually after pruning.


In order to achieve good growth, compact growth and good budding during the summer, you should cut the heather annually. Summer flowering heather is best cut after the winter frosts between mid-March and mid-April, because of the winter frosts is advised against cutting in October-November. Heather that flowers in winter or spring (Erica carnea, E. darleyensis and E. erigerna), cut back at the end of flowering. The strength of the pruning depends on the type of heath and variety. High and loose growing varieties are cut back lower than low-remaining varieties, dwarf varieties and creeping varieties are limited to the longer shoots and the old inflorescences of the previous year. Do not cut the shoots all evenly, otherwise spherical, unnatural-looking plants will develop and the heath will not grow together.

winter protection

In severe frosts (about -15 to -20 degrees) need the less hardy species such as eyelash heather (Erica cilaris), purple heather (Erica erigena), Mackay's heath (Erica mackaiana) and most varieties of gray heather (Erica cinerea) and Cornvall heather (Erica vagans) winter protection. Cover the heath with needle twigs or some foliage. But not only frost, even strong spring sun can be dangerous: If it freezes every night until well into March, the ground remains frozen. During the day the sun draws the water from the plants and they dry up. Again, covering with branches helps.


The snow heath (Erica carnea) is an important food source for insects from the early flowering from February / March, sometimes even in December

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