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Plant and care for broom heather: Extend the blooming season of Calluna vulgaris with these fall care tips!

In late summer and fall, Calluna vulgaris, still known as broom heather or summer heather, is in high season. The splendidly flowering ornamental shrub is not only a real eye-catcher outdoors, but also a valuable food source for bees and other pollinating insects in the fall. We explain how to plant and care for broom heather so that it blooms for a long time and comes through the winter well.

Planting and caring for broom heather: The most important facts in the profile

Planting summer heather during the flowering period

Overview of the broom heather:

  • Origin: native to northern Europe
  • now also widespread in North America
  • Perennial ornamental shrub
  • The broom heather is hardy
  • grows upright
  • maximum height of growth: 50 cm
  • flowering time: from the beginning of July to the end of November
  • Flower color: pink, white, various shades of purple, pink, yellow
  • foliage: evergreen leaves
  • insect-friendly, provides food for pollinating insects (exception are varieties with double flowers)

Broom heather and heather (snow heather Erica carnea): what is the difference?

The broom heather and erica belong to the same plant family (heather family), but there are differences. Erica carnea typically has many small bell-shaped flowers. Ericas have a compact and low growth and grow barely 30 cm high. They are conditionally hardy, in regions with a mild climate they can brave the winter without any problems. Otherwise, they need frost protection, and some varieties must necessarily be taken to the winter quarters after flowering. Erica blooms in the spring and spring.

In contrast, broom heather blooms in the fall, is winter-hardy and can easily tolerate even sub-zero temperatures.

Heather Calluna vulgaris is a hardy plant

Summer heather Demands On location and combination with ornamental grasses

What does broom heather look like in winter? Even in winter, broom heather pleases the eye with its evergreen leaves. Some varieties retain their flowers into the fall, and the blooming season can be extended to the end of November with proper care.

Winter care: Calluna vulgaris tolerates sub-zero temperatures with no problems. It will make it through the winter without frost protection as long as you never let the soil dry out. A mulch layer of brushwood will therefore protect the plant from drying out in particular. However, container plants are more susceptible to frost because the volume of soil in the containers is much smaller. To protect the root balls, wrap the containers with fleece.

Planting summer heather: Requirements for location and soil

broom heather is hardy plant for containers and garden

Location: the broom heather prefers a location in the sun, but can thrive well in off-sun and semi-shady places. Wind and rain protection are also not necessary.

Soil condition: A nutrient-rich, slightly acidic, airy and well-drained soil with a low lime content proves to be optimal. Those who have clay soil in their garden should improve it. Summer heather has fine roots that cannot absorb water and nutrients from a dense soil mass.

If necessary, you can also enrich the garden soil with organic compost. Work in sand to improve drainage. Use rhododendron soil if you plan to plant summer heather in containers. If the soil is calcareous, it will help if you use needle soil and oak leaf compost with additives such as wood flour and horn shavings.

Planting broom heather at the beginning of the flowering season

When to plant broom heather and is it winter hardy


Prepare the soil: Summer heather does not tolerate root competition. You should plant the plants at a certain distance from tall shrubs and woody plants. Weed and remove new weeds regularly so that the young plants can develop their roots.

The right time: September is the right time to plant broom heather. Choose a cloudy day without rain or plant summer heather early in the morning on a sunny day. Plant the seedlings as soon as possible after purchase to allow them to acclimate before the first frost.

Plant spacing: because hardy perennials have a compact, upright habit, always group them together. Plant spacing varies depending on the variety. For most summer heather varieties, 40 inches apart is sufficient.

Fertilizing: Fertilize once a year in the spring. If planting in the fall, you can choose not to fertilize; instead, work compost into the soil.

Planting broom heather in the garden soil location

Prepare the young plants: Before planting, you can place summer heather in a clean container of decalcified, lukewarm water. Wait several minutes until no more air bubbles rise. This is an indication that the plant’s roots have become saturated.

Planting hole: dig a planting hole 16 inches deep. Place one plant in each hole and cover the roots with soil.

Mulching: Spread mulch. The mulch layer should be between 5 and 7 inches thick to prevent moisture evaporation.

Watering: Water the ornamental shrub extensively after planting. In order for the summer heather to bloom abundantly and for a long time, it should be watered regularly. The plant can not tolerate drought well. Use only decalcified tap water or, even better, rainwater.

Extend the flowering period of the broom heather: Useful tips for care

Broom heather Calluna vulgaris extend flowering time


If you want to enjoy the many filigree flowers of broom heather all autumn long, then you should properly care for the ornamental shrub. The following tips will help:

1. water only with decalcified water. Water regularly and abundantly.

2. use organic compost for rhododendron when planting.

3. if the broom heather produces fewer flowers, measure the pH and lime content of the soil. Possibly then also change the location.

4. the roots of young plants are very sensitive to high salinity. They are also more susceptible to fungal attack. If the summer heather suddenly wither, then it may be a fungal disease .

4. the soil in the tub dries out more quickly in late summer. Therefore, check regularly and water more often.

5. the roots of potted plants are more susceptible to frost. At the end of September, wrap the pots with fleece.