October Plant of the Month: Heather

A terrific plant that deserves a spot in any garden. They may be small, but Heather are inexpensive, evergreen plants that provide colour even in the coldest months. Originating from the Scottish Hylands, transform any garden border, patio or rockery with the vibrant floral clusters of Heather and turn any garden into a carpet of dazzling colour.

To celebrate Heather as our plant of the month, we have selected our best Heather mixtures and collections on offer, as well as ideal planting partners, a planting guide and even some traditional folklore about Scotland’s national flower.

Top Varieties

Winter Flowering Collection

These small Heathers make a big impact with their masses of tiny blooms that flower all winter long into the spring. This collection of low-growing evergreen shrubs make excellent and colourful ground cover.

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Winter Mixed (Erica)

One of the hardiest of the Heathers. This wonderful mix of Erica Heather are low and quick growers, which will form eye-catching mats of pink, white, purple of red blooms. The perfect plant to compliment early spring bulbs.

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Summer/Winter Collection

Fill your garden with beauty all year round with this collection. Our summer Heathers bloom from July-October, while our winter Heathers flower from December to February. Plant en masse on a slope and an impressionist’s landscape will burst into life.

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Summer Mixed (Calluna)

Among the most hardiest and most varied of all Heathers. Appearing from mid-late summer, these showy flowers practically glow with their bright and beautiful shades. An easy to grow contender for adding to cottage gardens or as ground cover.

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Looking for some floral inspiration? Here are some tips on companion planting with Heather…

When planted en masse, Heathers and Heaths make a swath of tones and foliage with easy appeal and graceful texture. Adding some dimension to such plantings further enhances the garden area and increases interest year around.

Rhododendrons & Azaleas

A classic Heather companion. They crave the same acidic soil and consistent moisture on which Heather thrive. You can even feed Heather with a Rhododendron fertiliser.

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Pansies

When planting Heather in containers, keep it simple by accenting them with beautiful hardy Pansies. An excellent pot plant that grow well with Heather.

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Lavender

Smaller flowering plants compliment Heather and bloom at different times, thereby extending the bloom show. The look of Lavender and Heather together is a real showstopper.

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Planting Guide

Planting Time: Autumn-Early Spring 📆

Soil Type: Well drained, lime-free soil 🏡

Location: Full Sun/Partial Shade ☀

Flowering Time: July-October & December-February 🌸

  • Space Heathers as far apart as their mature width and at least 60cm away from other shrubs (to ensure good air circulation).
  • Dig a hole about twice as wide as the plug and half again as deep.
  • Firm the soil around the plant and water-in.
  • Water the plant once or twice a week when the soil is dry throughout the first season.
  • Mulch after planting.
  • Trim faded flower stems back to bases straight after flowering.

  • Plant them in a large, wide pot with good drainage holes in the bottom.
  • Use ericaceous potting mix (they enjoy highly acidic soil).
  • Shelter from strong winds and water when the two-inch later of soil is dry.
  • Protect from frosts by moving small pots indoors or cover the plant with polystyrene foam, then mulch the plant heavily.

Folklore 🌟

Here are some fascinating tales about these wild blooms.

Plant of the Month: Azaleas and Rhododendrons

Azaleas and Rhododendrons are the jewels of the late spring garden. Rhododendrons and evergreen azaleas provide interest all year round, while deciduous azaleas produce excellent autumn leaf colours. There are literally thousands of species and varieties and a huge range of flower colours. Their exquisite blooms bring notes of exotic colour to pots and containers, beds and borders and lightly shaded areas under trees.  Some are compact enough for the smallest gardens, others require the space of a woodland where they can reach massive proportions.

What’s the difference between Azaleas and Rhododendrons?

Our Top Picks

Azalea Homebush

• RHS Garden Merit Award winner

• Huge pompom-like trusses of double pink star-shaped flowers

• Easy to grow, highly fragrant and pollinator friendly

• Yellow-green deciduous foliage

• Perfect for borders, flowering hedges and containers

Rhododendron Sappho

• Purple buds open to wavy-edged white flowers with deep purple markings

• 9 flower trusses

• Easy to grow and evergreen

• Dark green, glossy ovate leaves

• Perfect for borders, hedging, screening and containers

Azalea Anneke

• Highly fragrant, large, lemon yellow flowers with gold spotting and yellow stamens

• 9 flower trusses with each flower spanning 8-10 in diameter

• Easy to grow

• Perfect for pots, containers and the border

Rhododendron Norfolk Candy

• Large, apricot-orange flushed maroon flowers

• Broad glossy forest green foliage

• Low maintenance and pollinator-friendly

• Perfect for borders or containers

Azalea japonica Pink Spider

• Large pink flowers with a white edge

 Dark, narrow foliage

• Compact, bushy shrub

• Hardy and evergreen

• Perfect for growing in the border, pots on the patio or balcony

Rhododendron Collection

• Includes one each of Sappho, Nova Zembla, Norfolk Candy and Marcel Menard

• Perfect for spring borders, pots or containers

Azalea Dwarf diamond japanese collection

 • Includes one each of Lilac, Red, Pink, White and Orange.

• Compact, small leaf Japanese Azaleas

• Masses of brightly coloured blooms

• Small, dark green foliage

• Perfect for patio pots or borders.

Planting

Planting time: October – March/April 📆

Location: Full sun/Partial shade 🏡

Flowering Time: April – July 🌸

Rhododendrons and Azaleas prefer well drained and light/acidic soil. Before planting, dig-in plenty of neutral or acidic organic matter (composted tree bark, leafmould, decomposing pine or spruce needles), and mix in well with the soil. Do not plant too deeply; all rhododendrons are surface-rooting and the roots should be just covered. Apply at least an 8cm (3 inch) mulch of chipped conifer bark or another acidic material. The mulch should be well-aerated, not firmed down.

Video Tutorial

Aftercare

Here are some handy aftercare tips to get the best performance out of your Rhododendron and Azaleas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT OUR NEW RHS AWARD WINNING RANGE

Complete Guide: How to Plant Buddleia

Looking for advice on how to plant Buddleia this spring? Through this informative guide, we will share all our best knowledge and tips on the planting, arrangement and aftercare for your Buddleia shrubs. When it is covered in butterflies, no other garden plant brings so much pleasure on a summer’s day!

Buddleia, also known as Butterfly Bush, is one of Britain’s most popular summer flowering shrubs. Buddleia comes from Asia and there are more than 100 species that have spread from northern India, China and South Africa to Central and South America, largely after being introduced by the great plant hunters around the beginning of the 20th century.

Planting

Buddleia are superb additions to the garden for attracting wildlife with butterflies and bees being big fans of this shrub. Known for their burst of colour and their distinct tubular fragrant flowers, this vigorous, deciduous shrub is the perfect choice for summer blooms. Here are our guides to planting out in the garden and in containers for easy planting this spring.

In the Garden

Great for long-term borders/rockeries. They perform best when planted in full sun (or at least in partial shade) and in fertile, well-drained soil. Dependent on the variety, plant around 5 to 10 feet apart for a gorgeous display. Plant Buddleia in Spring or in Autumn before the first frosts and water thoroughly after planting.

Buddleia Mixed (Hardy)

Tips

  • When planting, loosen the soil and mix in compost and dig a hole twice the diameter of the plant container.
  • They will not perform well if grown in soil that tends to retain a lot of water in the winter.
  • Do not plant under trees.

In Containers

Use a pot deep enough to contain the roots and heavy enough to weigh the plant down. Make sure the pot has a good amount of drainage holes to allow the roots to breathe. Place the pot in full sunlight and water regularly. Cut the plant back around 10-12 inches in late winter or early spring.

Our Tips

  • Whisky Barrels make great planters
  • Avoid garden soil which becomes heavy/compact in containers.
  • Dwarf varieties like our Minature Collection are the best choice for pots and containers.

Video Tutorial

In this gardening tutorial, our resident gardening expert Jeff demonstrates how to plant Buddleia (Butterfly Bush) for summer flowering and shares his tips and tricks for getting the best results out of these beautiful shrubs.

Aftercare

  • When in bloom, you can snip their stems for honey scented cut flower bouquets.
  • Buddleia can be pruned hard after flowering, and you should cut shoots back to strong buds/younger growth.
  • We recommend reducing plants by half in Autumn when they are grown in windy positions.
  • Removing the dead blooms and watering the plants in very dry conditions will bring butterflies flocking to your Buddleia plants.
  • You can take softwood cutting in late spring just as the stems begin to harden up a little.

Our Top Picks

Flower Power

This magical hybrid showcases a mix between the usual blue-purple varieties along with a yellow flowered species. This plant’s gorgeous spikes of flowers blend perfectly from purple to orange for a sensational display of multi-coloured shades and sweet scent to radiate your summer garden.

Buddleia White Swan

The stunning fragrant white flowers are displayed on strong arching branches that are amazing for attracting wildlife in to the garden. Ideal for brightening your summer gardens in patio pots and containers.

 

 

Buddleia Purple Lion

Purple Lion is a stunning, fragrant  dwarf variety of Buddleia. This compact plant bears large purple flower spikes along with attractive silver-green foliage making Purple Lion the perfect long term addition to borders/rockeries and patio pots.

 

 

Companion Plants

Lantanas

The green foliage of Lantanas are topped with clusters of tiny, vibrant little flowers that are superb plants for attracting birds, butterflies and bees to the garden, making them a perfect pollinator companion for Buddleias.

Lantana Esperanta White

This variety is the perfect colour complimenting partner for white and purple Buddleias. These snow white, compactly formed flowers with bright yellow centers are an ideal plant for filling your landscape as ground cover or in containers to bring the wildlife swarming to your beautiful pollinator friendly garden.

Lantana Esperanta Yellow

The cheerful sunny yellow blooms of this Lantana variety are bound to become a showstopper in your garden when planted alongside purple Buddleia for a stunning contrast of colour.

 

 

Asters

A border of Asters creates a truly unforgettable spectacle. Combine with Buddleia for a truly delightful show of colour. They are bound to liven up your garden as Asters are great pollinator attracting plants with their bright colours and nectar rich, wide open blooms.

Aster Alpinus Dark Beauty

These vibrant violet blue, daisy-like flowers with their sunny yellow centers are the perfect partner to a white or purple Buddleia for a bold cluster of vibrant colour to the summer garden.

 

 

 

Aster Alpinus Pinkie

This vivid pink variety of these tough, sun-loving perennial plants are a great easy to grow pairing with Buddleia. Their cheerful ornamental cluster of flowers will certainly bring a pop of colour to summer rock gardens, borders and pots.

 

Click here to view our full range of Buddleia

Plant of the Month – Dwarf Rhododendrons

Dwarf Rhododendrons

Dwarf-Rhododendrons

 

The stunning flowers of the Rhododendron have earned them a legion of fans, and quite right too! Some varieties of full size Rhododendrons will simply keep growing until they grow into giant trees, although you can prune them down, these larger varieties may not be an option in your garden.

This month we’re taking a look at some stunning dwarf varieties. The compact growth habit of these shrubs give them an outstanding formal appearance, making them ideal for small city gardens or courtyards where space is at a premium. They’re even small enough to slot nicely beneath taller shrubs in the border, or grow nicely in a rock garden.

Rhododendron Princess Anne

Rhododendron-Princess-Anne
A dwarf evergreen shrub variety with soft primrose yellow flowers which appear in spring, sitting nicely alongside the green foliage. A very reliable performer, its holds the RHS Award of Garden Merit. Height and spread only 50-60cm as adult plant.

 

POTM-AGM-April

Rhododendron Dwarf Collection

Dwarf-Rhododendrons
Our collection brings together Scarlet Wonder (red), Moerheim Lilac (lilac/mauve) and Pink Drift (cool-toned, light pink). A burst of colour for your border or patio, all three are exceptionally compact and manageable. These varieties produce trusses of up to three funnel shaped, vibrant flowers from April-June, against a lush background of ovate, glossy dark green leaves.

Planting

POTM-April

 

You can plant out in March/April or in October.

Prepare the ground by digging in plenty of compost, neutral or acidic organic matter, or leafmold etc. Plant so the roots are covered, not too deep and apply a good layer of mulch lightly over the surface, don’t pack it down. Re-mulch and feed with an ericaceous fertiliser each spring.

Ericaceous fertiliser? This is for plants that are not as happy in limey soils. It’s a lime-free acidic compost that was habitually made with peat – however as awareness that adding peat to soils is bad for the environment you can now easily find peat free varieties to buy.

Dwarf varieties can cope with positioning in full sun but need evenly moist, well drained soils so keep on top of watering them in the hottest part of summer. Rhododendrons like lots of water and use rain-water if you can – you should particularly avoid tap-water if you live in a hard water area. As with larger Rhododendrons they won’t do at all well subjected to frost so take care to protect them and avoid areas you know are prone to it in your garden.

Rhododendron Praecox

Rhododendron-Praecox-without-label
Technically this one will reach a mature height of 150cm, so not quite as dwarf as the varieties above but this stunning variety shouldn’t be missed out. Its one of the earliest flowering varieties, producing an abundance of rose-purple blooms as early as February and throughout March. It holds the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

Azaleas and Rhododendrons – what’s the difference?

In truth not very much! Azaleas are a group within the Rhododendron family and they have some small differences. Rhododendrons will have ten or more stamens, while an Azalea will usually have five stamens. Rhododendrons have larger leaves and they will be paddle-shaped, Azalea have smaller, elliptical leaves. Also Rhododendrons are evergreen, whereas Azaleas can be evergreen or deciduous.