Heather is a plant of the Ericaceae family that typically grows in over thirty different varieties. While blooming mostly in Northern temperate regions, types of the plant make their home in tropical areas and across Siberia. Wild heather is known for its deep purple or maroon coloring, while cultivated varieties can take on a number of characteristics. White and pink are common colors of cultivated heather plants. Heather takes its name from the heaths (generally infertile acidic lowlands) where it grows naturally. As such the plant usually requires soil with high acidic content. If soil is not acidic enough elemental sulfur or gypsum can be added.
The quality of the soil otherwise is not overly important as the heathlands that heather usually grows in are characterized by low-quality sandy soil. The only important thing is to make sure that the soil is well drained. Since the plant is used to sandy (read dry) soil the plant fares much better in soil that will not become overly moist. When watering heather, it is important to make sure that the plant is not flooded as this will have a negative impact on the plant’s growth. Sun is also another important factor for the growth of heather. Since heather grows in the wild in flat treeless areas, it is used to abundant sunlight and will grow best in well-lit areas.
Heather will usually bloom from the middle of summer to early fall in the Northern Hemisphere and in winter the leaves may remain of the plant, turning interesting shades of brown and red. Harsh winter winds can endanger the heather as can rapid snow melts that leave the ground flooded for extended periods of time. For the areas where heather occurs naturally this is generally not a problem, but in areas where it is cultivated winter weather can damage or even kill the plant.