Lavender heather, shadow bells: all about the right care

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Lavender heather, shadow bells: all about the right care: heather

The lavender heather, with its botanical name Pieris, is evergreen and an eye-catcher for leaves and flowers, especially in winter. It is popular with bees and can be used as a hedge. In addition, it shows in the care relatively easy, but it is to pay attention to certain details. Because the shadow bell, as the lavender heather is also called, places special demands on location and substrate as well as the culture in the garden or tub.


It should be sun or at least light shade for the lavender heath. If the shrub is too dark, it loses its flowering power and forms more foliage. In addition, it should be noted that it can be between two and four meters high, depending on the variety. The stature height and width should be taken into account when choosing the location.
As a rule of thumb, half the width of the growth should be kept apart from other plants. Furthermore, make sure that the shadow bells are exposed to the blazing noonday sun and protected from cold wind. Favorable is therefore an eastern orientation or a location near a wall.


Like azalea and rhododendrons, lavender heather prefers acidic soils with low calcium content. In addition, the substrate should meet the following requirements:
  • loose and well drained, not prone to thickening
  • slightly damp but not wet
  • pH of about 5
  • humos
  • only moderately nutritious
Ideal is a mixture of garden soil and peat in equal parts. Alternatively, ready-made rhododendron earth can be used.


The lavender heath is best planted between August and September. With regular watering, it can grow well until the beginning of winter.
If the shadow bells serve as a hedge, half the growth width is maintained as the distance between the plants. If the soil does not meet the requirements, a planting hole of at least 50 centimeters deep and wide should be dug out and the appropriate substrate filled in.

to water

Pieris - Lavender heath - shadow bells

A light, continuous moisturizing the lavender heather until autumn is recommended and equips the plant for the winter. Waterlogging is urgently to be avoided, as well as hard water with a high calcium content. Rainwater, pond water or soft tap water should therefore be used. If the tap water is very calcareous, it can stand up for a week. The lime collects on the ground. The mixture is then poured so that the sediment remains in the container.


The lavender heath can be fertilized with the new budding in spring. Suitable for this are:
  • peat
  • bark humus
  • Rhododendron fertilizer
Humus and peat can be added to the substrate and incorporated easily. They also have the advantage that they positively influence the pH of the soil. Usually one single nutrient supply per year is sufficient. If necessary, this can also be divided into two doses, with the second fertilization should take place at the latest in June to July.


The shadow bell grows comparatively slowly. Per year, an increase of up to eight centimeters is expected. Of course, the growth rate is also dependent on the selected variety. Cuttings are therefore often unnecessary for a long time, but are well tolerated by lavender heather. The measure is ideally carried out after flowering, removing withered inflorescences and crossing shoots.
In this way, the branches get enough light again. When cultivating as a hedge, the shrub can be shortened all around. It is advisable here to shorten shoots one to a half inches in front of an outwardly facing flower. The cut is slanted so that the tip points away from the bud. On the other hand, very old and balding shoots are cut off or sawed off just above the ground.
Tip: When cutting waste gloves are to be worn because the lavender heather is poisonous in all parts. For this reason, the clippings should also be disposed of so that it is not accessible to children and animals.


Propagation takes over the lavender heather by itself, forming foothills. The easiest way is to leave these extensions as long as possible on the mother plant, so that they themselves have already formed roots. Then the procedure is as follows:

1. Carefully remove the substrate and cut the connection to the mother plant near the large plant.

2. Also carefully remove the soil from the roots to avoid injury. Damaged roots are to be cut off.

3. The young plant is planted and cast as described above.

Pieris - Lavender heath - shadow bells

Alternatively, the shoots or about ten inches long shoots can be cut directly from the mother plant and freed from the lower leaves.These are placed in moist cultivation soil and can be placed on the sprouting of new leaves in the same substrate in which also the mother plant stands.
Again gloves should be worn to avoid skin contact with escaping sap.
Tip: The development of foothills can be accelerated by bending down longer and near-ground shoots and burying a section of it in the ground about 20 centimeters from the shoot tip. As a result, roots are formed at the earth-covered site.


In itself, the evergreen shadow bells need no protection in winter, provided they have been planted freely in the garden. In dry winters with strong sunlight, it may be useful to protect the foliage with a layer of garden fleece. Cultivated in a tub, the lavender heath needs protection against frost and direct winter sun. In addition, it must be saved from drying out. On the one hand, it can be wintered in a frost-free but cool and bright room, for example in the unheated hall or in a cellar directly in front of a window.
On the other hand, it is also possible to isolate the bucket from below through polystyrene and all around by garden fleece and leave the lavender heath outdoors. In any case care should be taken that the substrate does not dry out completely. Outdoors, therefore, a small amount should be poured about once a week on frost-free days and indoors.

Diseases, pests and care mistakes

Root litter and the net bug are especially problematic for the lavender heather. Risk factors for root rot include:
  • Waterlogging or insufficient water drainage
  • compacting substrate
  • cold, heavy ground
If the shadow bells are affected, the foliage turns yellowish and withered. The plant hardly grows or even cares. As a precautionary measure, attention should be paid to the correct substrate and, if necessary, a drainage layer should be applied and the casting behavior adjusted. If root rot already exists, the following measures can help:
  • Blend of infested and dead plant parts
  • Use of sulfur preparations as soil disinfectants
  • Application of fungicides
  • Replacing the substrate and switching to a drier location
With regard to pests, the already mentioned network bug is problematic. The adult parasites suck the leaves of the lavender heath from spring onwards and later lay their eggs on them. They can be recognized in addition to the approximately three millimeters long animals themselves:
  • occasional discoloration on the leaves, which eventually become completely yellow or brown
  • black deposits
  • Eggs or larvae, especially on the undersides of the leaves
Preventively advisable here is the exact control of the plants when buying and, of course, in the garden or bucket at regular intervals. In case of infestation with the pests affected leaves are cut off and destroyed. Cheap is the early spring, at the latest in April - so before a new generation of nets bugs can hatch. In addition, pesticides for sucking insects can be used.

Caution: poisonous!

Pieris - Lavender heath - shadow bells

As already mentioned, the lavender heather is poisonous in all parts. Therefore, skin contact with plant juice should be avoided urgently. When planting, blending and propagating gloves are therefore to wear. In addition, shadow bells in gardens with playing children and pets should not be the first choice of planting or at least sufficiently secured. In case of contact to the skin and mucous membrane or even consumption, consult a doctor or veterinarian immediately or contact an emergency physician and inform him of the nature of the poisoning.
The lavender heather is an easy to maintain and undemanding plant, but due to its toxicity, it should be handled and handled with care. If you pay attention to the demands of the shadow bells in the substrate and irrigation, it is also ideally suited for beginners in plant care.

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