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February's plant of the month is the heather31 January 2014
February's plant of the month is the heather, a plant that's had something of a bad press in recent years. We can't understand why, as there are few plants more versatile and easy-to-please in the garden: have a look at our great selection and try them out for yourself!
They have a deservedly good reputation as reliable, evergreen winter-flowering beauties, but in fact there are dozens of different types of heather, including six separate species, with some in flower in all seasons of the year. Irish heath (Daboecia cantabrica), for example, produces its large, pink flowers from June to October, while the moorland ling heather, Calluna vulgaris is at its brilliantly purple best in late summer.
They'll grow in any soil, too: many are happiest in acid conditions, but there are plenty of varieties quite content with neutral to alkaline soils, too. Erica x darleyensis, E. carnea and E. tetralix for example don't mind what soil you have as long as they're in a sunny, moisture-retentive spot.
Group heathers in clusters among grasses, bulbs and perennials and they'll look right at home, providing deep green background textures, bright splashes of colour and architectural structure right through the year. And you can't ask much more of a plant than that.