Heathers and heaths - difficulty establishing

Discussion in 'Woody Plants' started by janetdoyle, Nov 16, 2007.

  1. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    I am not sure this is the correct forum, but I'll try it here. I have the perfect spot for heather and heath-growing in Victoria, BC, but I can't seem to get the plants to establish themselves very quickly. Are they very slow to do that? I bought some "small" ones and they look even smaller than when I planted them a few weeks ago, aside from the fact that it's late fall/early winter and a few of the new ones got nibbled by deer on the tops and tips [I suppose -- I thought deer didn't care for them]. I suppose a more substantial, say gallon potted plant, would be better. It is an acid soil area and I have used peat moss and fresh moss mixed in with the soil and compost, and of course there has been wet weather. I tried not to plant them too deep. The deer don't seem to care for the old heather bank I have, but they did, I think, touch the newly-planted little ones. Some were not nibbled, but even they seem to have shrunk. A few heaths/heathers I planted last year are just now beginning to extend their small branches out and show themselves, after virtually disappearing under other plants. How disappointing!
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    These must have open, yet cool positions with porous soil. If you do not have a sandy or otherwise coarse soil already better to buy some and spread that around for them to grow in, than mix in peat that will decompose later and disappear.

    Apart from deer that may be browsing yours above ground like rhododendrons and azaleas heathers may have their roots and crowns attacked by weevils. Black vine weevil seems to be apt to build up on and diminish susceptible stock being grown in containers, if some of your heathers had been in the same pots for awhile before you bought them maybe these were infested and thus dwindled later. Their fine, fungus-like roots are also susceptible to water molds - taking us back to their need for well-aerated soil.

    The fact that their native relations rhododendron, huckleberry and salal are seen mostly on quite sandy soils or in rotting stumps points to the kind of rooting environment heathers may demand.
     
  3. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    Interesting -- I once walked in the Scottish hills and true, the soil is certainly very coarse. Granular and not at all lush. I will try and mix in some rather coarse sand we used for the bottom of a fish pond, it is almost like a superfine gravel. Other people's heathers which are established for many years are very flourishing, though, in essentially the same soil.
     

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