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Leonard J. Buck Garden

11 Layton Road, Far Hills, NJ 07931 • 908 722-1200 Ext. 5011

Calluna Vulgaris
Leonard J. Buck Garden
Reno in Spring
Heaths and Heathers at Leonard J. Buck Garden

A number of kinds of heaths and heathers have been planted in the raised peninsula bed next to the parking area in front of the Leonard J. Buck Garden Visitors' Center. These comprise varieties of Calluna and Erica.

Genera recognized as "heathers" (common name) by the International Horticultural Congress include Andromeda, Bruckenthalia, Calluna, Daboecia, and Erica as well as Phyllodoce, the only New World heath.

In the garden we have Calluna, Erica, and several Erica hybrids:

Calluna vulgaris, the true Scotch heather (not to be confused with the florists' Scotch heather, which is Erica persoluta, a tender South African heath). This outstanding dwarf evergreen grows wild in the British Isles, Europe, and Asia Minor. On this continent it has become naturalized on Labrador, Newfoundland and Cape Cod. Varieties bloom from late June until December. Although generally considered hardy to USDA Zone 5, with winter protection it grows even in Zone 3.

Erica camea, the winter heath, commences flowering in early winter and continues into spring. Hardy to Zone 4 or colder.

Erica cinerea, the bell heath, is native only to the British Isles, and is generally considered a little less hardy, though it is hardy to Zone 6. It likes a hot, dry site if planted with plenty of peat or other humus. It blooms from July to November.

Erica tetralix, the cross-leaved heath, is very hardy and grows in small mounds of soft downy grayish foliage with showy clusters of rosy or white flowers from June to November. It likes slightly moister conditions than the above, and even grows in bogs.

Erica hybrids are E. x darleyensis (E. camea x E. erigena), and E. x williamsii (E. vagans x E. tetralix).

Bruckenthalia spiculifolia (Spike or Balkan heath) is another dwarf evergreen closely allied to Calluna and Erica. Indigenous to the Balkan Mountains, it has flowers in pink spikes as early as May. Eminently suited as a spreading low groundcover in exposed sites, it is extremely hardy and tolerant of drier conditions in full sun.

Heathers are easy to grow if their simple needs are met. These are:

1. A light, acid, moisture-retentive (humusy) but well-drained soil in sun.

2. A year-round mulch of pine needles, pine chips, shredded acid-type leaves such as oak, or gravel.

3. Protection from wind, especially in winter.

4. No nitrogen fertilizer in climates with hot summers.

Dwarf pines and related genera make excellent companion plants for heaths and heathers as they need the same growing conditions, and their more solid bulk provides wind shelter if correctly positioned.

E-mail the Horticulture Dept. with any questions or comments

  • What's in bloom?
  • Current programs and events at Buck Garden
  • Moggy Hollow
  • Heaths and Heathers
  • Native Plants Beneficial to Wildlife

  HOURS: 10 am-4 pm Monday to Friday
  10 am-5 pm Saturdays
  12 pm-5 pm Sundays
  Closed on weekends and major holidays in Dec., Jan.,   Feb., and March.


  • For tips on gardening, check out Garden Smart.
  • For more NJ public gardens, visit:
    Gardens of the Garden State Garden Group.
  • the Garden and Landscape Guide

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