Scotch Heather is a beautiful flowering shrub that is native to Europe and is often found growing wild on the Scottish moors.
Its botanical name is Calluna vulgaris and it’s the only species in the Calluna genus. Surprisingly, however, there are around 500 cultivars of this species that have been bred over the years.
Gardeners love to grow heather flowers in rock gardens and as ground cover plants as their dense clusters of small bell-shaped flowers put on quite a magnificent display in summer.
The heather plants prefer acidic soil that is free-draining and has added organic matter. Other than regular watering, these plants really don’t need too much care.
Here are a few cultivars and heather varieties that you might like to try.
Calluna vulgaris ‘Aphrodite’
You’ll love the striking dark pink buds on this heather that never fully open. These buds are borne on tall flower spikes that tower over the rest of the plant. This variety has a long blooming season too from late summer to mid-fall.
It’s quite a compact plant and will only grow to a height of 12” (30 cm).
Calluna vulgaris ‘Bonita’
This lovely cultivar is part of the “Garden Girls” series. It produces masses of reddish-pink, plump flower buds that never actually open. It’s known in the industry as a “bud bloomer”. These start to appear in late summer and carry through into early fall.
The foliage exhibits shades of bright green, yellow, and orange and this turns a lovely bronze color as the weather cools down.
It’s only a low-growing plant reaching a maximum height of 18 inches (45 cm) and a width of 24 inches (60 cm). In the US, it’s hardy to USDA zone 4.
C. vulgaris ‘Carmen’
You’ll be amazed at the masses of crimson flowers that appear on this shrub in summer. These will continue into early fall. This delightful shrub only grows to a height and width of 18” (45 cm) and will thrive in a nice sunny spot. The foliage remains green all year round.
This shrub is highly attractive to butterflies as are most of the heathers.
Calluna vulgaris ‘Con Brio’
This is another pretty cultivar with gorgeous crimson flowers that grow en masse. The tiny leaves are lime green to yellow in summer and turn a lovely shade of red in winter. The flowers start to bloom in late summer and carry through to early fall.
This pretty little shrub only grows to a height of 14 inches (35 cm) and spreads to a width of 16 inches (40 cm). It will grow happily in USDA hardiness zones 5 and 6 in full sun.
Calluna vulgaris ‘Cuprea’
This pretty heather has dainty lavender to pink flowers and lovely lime-green foliage that turns to copper in summer and then bronze once the weather cools down. It grows to a height and width of 20” (50 cm).
Calluna vulgaris ‘Dark Beauty’
This is a stunning heather with masses of blood-red semi-double flowers that stand out against the dark green foliage. As the summer progresses into fall the flowers deepen in color finally becoming a deep purple-red.
It’s quite a small shrub, only growing to a height of 10 inches (25 cm). This makes it perfect for growing as a ground cover and it would create an absolutely stunning display if planted en masse in a large garden bed.
Calluna vulgaris ‘Darkness’
Not to be confused with ‘Dark Beauty’, this cultivar has pretty lavender-colored flowers and dark green foliage. It will only grow to a height of 15” (40 cm).
C. vulgaris ‘Firefly’ (Firefly Scotch Heather)
Although this cultivar has pretty deep mauve semi-double flowers in late summer, it’s the foliage that you’ll find most striking. In spring, the tiny leaves are primrose yellow. The color continues to intensify until the leaves are brilliant shades of red and orange in the fall until they finally turn a stunning brick-red in winter.
This highly attractive and sought-after shrub grows to a height of 20 inches (50 cm) and a width of around 24 inches (60 cm). It would definitely add some amazing color to your garden, especially if you plant more than one.
Calluna vulgaris ‘Flamingo’
You’ll love the pretty purple bell-shaped flowers on this small shrub, however, you’ll be totally amazed by the foliage that is dark green at the base and has fiery red tips in spring. The plant grows to a height of 12 inches (30 cm) but will spread to a width of 20 inches (50 cm).
Calluna vulgaris ‘Forest Fire’
This is another pretty cultivar with masses of mauve bell-shaped flowers. The dark green foliage is tipped with salmon-pink in spring and summer. This plant grows to a height of 18 inches (45 cm).
Calluna vulgaris ‘Gold Haze’
If you enjoy growing different colored foliage plants in your garden, then this cultivar is one to consider. The foliage is a lovely golden color while the flowers are snowy white. The plant grows to a height and width of around 18 inches (45 cm).
C. vulgaris ‘Jana’
Be prepared for a stunning burst of color when you grow this cultivar in your garden. You’ll get masses of pink to red double flowers in the fall. This cultivar is considered a late bloomer.
This cultivar also grows a little larger than many others and will reach a height of around 24 inches (60 centimeters).
Calluna vulgaris ‘Kerstin’
This cultivar has lilac-pink flowers with gray foliage that is tipped with yellow and even red. This change in color in the foliage usually happens as the weather cools down in the fall.
This variety grows to 18 inches (45 cm) high and will spread to the same distance.
Calluna vulgaris ‘Kinlochruel’
This is a lovely white heather that is worth adding to your collection. The snowy white flowers blend perfectly with the dark green foliage. In winter, the foliage is normally tinged with bronze. This makes this a very attractive plant all year round.
This is quite a compact grower and will only reach a height of around 10 inches (25 cm). You’ll be able to enjoy the lovely white blooms from mid-summer to mid-fall.
Calluna vulgaris ‘Mair’s Variety’
This is another variety with lovely white blooms. It grows a little bigger and can reach a height of 18 inches (45 cm) and will spread as wide as 24 inches (60 cm). The long flower spikes are ideal for use as cut flowers.
Calluna vulgaris ‘Marleen’
You can’t beat this cultivar with its tall flower spikes with pinkish-purple buds that never fully open. These blend perfectly with the dark green foliage. It’s quite a compact variety and only grows to around 10 inches (25 centimeters) tall.
Calluna vulgaris ‘Robert Chapman’
This heather gets more attention due to its colorful foliage rather than its pretty rose-pink flowers. The foliage is greenish-yellow in summer but turns from orange-red to almost dark red during the winter. It grows to a height of 18 inches (45 cm).
Calluna vulgaris ‘Wickwar Flame’
Just like ‘Robert Chapman’, the ever-changing foliage is the most attractive feature of this heather. The striking foliage changes from golden-yellow and orange in summer to a dark coppery-red in winter. The plant also bears a profusion of mauve-pink flowers in late summer.
This compact groundcover variety grows up to 15 inches (37 centimeters) tall but will spread out as far as 30 inches (70 centimeters).
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