PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Heather ‘Firefly’ (Calluna vulgaris)

Heathers, including genus’ Calluna, Erica, or Daboecia are low growing (8″-24″ typically) evergreen shrubs found naturally in open swaths usually surrounded by forests.These open, shrubby spaces are known worldwide as Heaths. Prairies (more grassy) & Heaths (more low shrubs) are similar. Interestingly, many Heaths have been created by humans over millennia of harvesting forests..These expansive open areas are quickly populated by the smaller plants. In Europe and British Isles, Heathers are dominant. Left to their own, most Heaths will revert to forestland again.

Back to ‘Firefly’… Besides being our favorite sci-fi series ever, it is our favorite heather ever. It gets 12″-18″ tall and a bit wider. New growth in spring is brilliant chartreuse and emerald.. It flowers in late summer with lilac colored tiny blooms tight to the stems. About the same time, foliage begins turning coral colored at the tips. Color deepens and progresses down the stems with colder weather. The photo is in mid November. You should give heathers a haircut every one or two years to keep them from getting leggy. Heathers are drought tolerant ONLY after they are well established. Keep them watered the first 2-3 summers.

Heathers have an ancient history of medicinal uses too. Flowering shoots, branches, and roots have been used to treat arthritis, kidney function, and respiratory issues. Yellow dye can be extracted from the roots.