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Confused about heathers

Posted by dottyinduncan z8b coastal BC (My Page) on
Sun, Aug 25, 13 at 0:42

I bought a bud bloomer heather, Flamingo last spring. It was an incredible orange/red colour. After a few weeks, the colour disappeared and it was a happy green colour all summer. A couple of weeks ago, it began to bloom a pretty mauve. I don't understand the colours. And, when does it get a haircut?


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RE: Confused about heathers

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Sun, Aug 25, 13 at 14:12

Typically with Calluna cultivars that turn orange or brown etc. that is a winter occurrence.


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RE: Confused about heathers

Thanks bboy, it was a magnificent colour. Any idea about pruning?


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RE: Confused about heathers

Just a little clarification - 'Flamingo' is not a bud bloomer but it DOES offer bright, early spring foliage color on the new growth - yellows deepening to an orange and red. A bud bloomer is a type of heather that produces conspicuous and very long lasting flowerbuds but the flowers do not really fully open. 'Flamingo' is what is termed by growers as a "spring interest" or "spring tip" heather, in that its new spring growth is very brightly colored, perhaps even more intensely than the fall flowers. Others like this are 'Spring Torch', 'Red Fred', 'Ruby Slinger', 'Easter Bonfire'.

These types of heathers should be pruned immediately after flowering, cutting back below the bottom of the flowering stems. This will allow plenty of time for the colorful new growth to develop for spring as well as keeping the plant tidy and compact.


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RE: Confused about heathers

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Mon, Aug 26, 13 at 1:22

With the bud types the flowers look like beaks because the end doesn't open.


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RE: Confused about heathers

Thanks so much both of you. I am absolutely delighted with this heather for the spring interest and the autumn flowers. With our deer problem, it's a winner.


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RE: Confused about heathers

In my experience, with "spring tip" type heathers, and to a lesser extent the "brightly colored winter foliage" heathers, is that the growers have some special technique to produce outstanding foliage color right about the time the plants are shipped to retail outlets. Indeed, I would try to do the same thing if I were a grower!

It seems that these plants have never again had foliage color to equal that seen in the nursery, produced by the grower. The color is still nice mind you, and I highly recommend heathers with winter or spring color.

The difference is less pronounced with something like 'Wickwar Flame' which has had the most striking foliage color in my experience, but the "spring tip" types like 'Spring Torch' & 'Red Fred' have been less impressive, but still worthwhile.

I know that the amount of sunlight and likely other growing conditions (soil, water, nutrients) play a part in maximizing foliage color. So far I haven't found the right formula for the spring tip heathers. They have been vigorous growers though, and you cant say that about all varieties of heathers, and especially heaths.


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RE: Confused about heathers

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Wed, Aug 28, 13 at 17:17

What about annual shearing? Maybe the renewal growth would make a stronger impression.


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RE: Confused about heathers

I bought Flamingo because it was growing in the garden of my sister-in-law's condo. It was a 2 X 2 foot mat of exceptional colour last spring, an exciting red/orange. Of course, they have professional gardeners and are close to the ocean in Victoria, so everything in their garden is exceptional. I just had my irrigation fixed (again) and have a well draining area atop a wall where I'm going to plant heathers and these 2 season heathers are going to be part of the planting. With my deer problem, there aren't many colourful plants I can use. I'm tired of green, or with this hot summer, brown.


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