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Common Heather (Calluna vulgaris)

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At the end of summer, heather blooms on the fringes of pine forests in central Russia (Calluna vulgaris). This aromatic and honey plant has long attracted attention. Latin name Calluna comes from greek kallune, which means “brush, or brush,” since heather branches were once used to make brooms. The indigenous people of Ireland, Scotland, Scandinavia, Russia, and North America used heather branches to make baskets, ropes, bedding, instead of straw for roofs, and even to flavor beer and tea. Symbolizing admiration and good fortune, a plant with rare white flowers was considered a talisman and was used for amulets.

Ling (Calluna vulgaris) - the only representative of the genus heather (Calluna) heather families. His homeland is Europe, Northwest Africa, Asia Minor, Siberia. The plant is found in rare-standing pine trees, on sand, on sphagnum bogs, in the tundra.

This is an evergreen shrub or shrub 0.2–0.7 (1) m high. The leaves are scaly, trihedral, sessile, located cross-opposite in 4 rows. The flowers are small, consisting of a 4-split corolla glossy calyx up to 3.5 mm long and a 4-split corolla up to 2.7 mm long, the same lilac-pink or less often - white. It blooms in August and October. Fruits - boxes with small seeds. Honey plant, decorative in bloom, is used as a dried flower. Winter-hardy.

Heather features

Heather is a highly branched evergreen creeping small shrub 30–70 centimeters high. Small sheet plates, which are trihedral, as if rolled into a tube. Small fragrant flowers that look similar to bells are painted in lilac pink. They are part of one-sided brushes. Flowering begins in the second half of the summer period, however, such a plant becomes most beautiful after the onset of the first frost, because its leaves at this time are painted in burgundy and yellow. Robert Lewis Stevenson wrote a whole ballad about heather "Heather Honey". Such a plant is an excellent honey plant, while heather honey is considered the most useful of all. Landscape designers use heather to decorate alpine hills, planted along paths in the garden, and use them to create borders that look very impressive against dwarf conifers.

Sowing seeds

To grow heather from seeds, you need to be patient, because this process is quite long and difficult. However, it may please you that heather seeds have excellent germination, namely, 90 percent. The bowl needs to be filled with earth mixture and moistened. Distribute the seeds on its surface, but do not need to deepen them. The container is covered with glass and waiting for seedlings. For sowing seeds, it is recommended to use a substrate consisting of sand, coniferous land and peat, which are taken in a ratio of 1: 1: 2. Crops need to be put in heat (about 20 degrees), while in the first 7 days the seeds need a high level of humidity. The appearance of the first sprouts occurs after 4 weeks. Immediately after the appearance of seedlings, they should begin hardening. For this, shelter should be opened for a while. After the seedlings grow greatly, they should pick, they are planted in individual pots or transplanted into a container.

Seedling Care

In the summer, seedlings should be moved to the garden and placed in a dark place, while it must be systematically watered. When it gets cold outside, the seedlings are transferred to a cool room (about 10-12 degrees).

Landing heather in a permanent place is possible only at the age of two. Remember that heather grown from seed is not able to preserve the signs of the mother plant. However, as a result of your labors, a completely new variety may be born.

Where and at what time they land

Experienced gardeners recommend planting heather in the spring, namely, from the second half of April to the first days of May, you can do this in the fall - from late September to the first days of October. For planting, it is better to choose open, well-lit areas, but you can plant this plant in partial shade. Peaty moist soils or dry sandy ones are best suited for it. This flower cannot be planted in calcareous earth. It’s okay if the earth contains few nutrients, but the pH must be 4.5–5.5. Heather will grow best in soil consisting of sand, peat, compost of bark (coniferous land), which must be taken in a ratio of 1: 3: 2. The place where heather is grown should be protected from gusts of wind. To acidify the soil, it is necessary to introduce red horse peat into it.

How to plant

Depending on the variety, from 6 to 10 seedlings are planted on a plot of 1 square meter. The bush should be buried in the soil by 25–35 centimeters, while the root neck should be at the same level with the soil surface. If the clay soil in the landing hole, it is necessary to make a drainage layer consisting of sand or brick fragments, while its height should be from 5 to 10 centimeters. Also, in each hole you need to pour in horn flour (30-50 grams) and nitrophoski (20-30 grams). Planted heather is watered at the rate of 5-6 liters of water per 1 bush. The surface of the site must be sprinkled with a layer of mulch (softwood chips or peat). Remember that this plant is extremely poorly transplanted, so you need to immediately choose the best place to plant it and take good care of it so that you do not have to transplant it.

Care Features

The root system of heather is not long, so it should be regularly watered if systematic precipitation is not observed, and acidified water is used. Note that the soil surface on the site should be constantly slightly moistened. In this regard, the soil surface must be covered with a layer of mulch. Also, mulch does not allow the soil to get very hot on hot days. Heather is watered every 10-15 days. After the irrigation is done, you need to loosen the soil to a depth of 10 to 15 centimeters, while all the weeds must be torn out. Loosen and weed the ground through the mulch. In sultry times, this plant may suffer from excessively dry air; in this regard, it is recommended to moisten it from the sprayer every evening. Do not forget to feed the plant every year in springtime (in April or May), while full mineral fertilizer is applied to the soil, 1.5–2 large tablespoons of fertilizing are taken for 1 bush (20 to 30 grams per square meter). At the same time, dry fertilizer must be carefully scattered around the site, try to prevent the substance from falling onto the foliage and flowers of the plant, otherwise a burn will form on their surface. After this, dressing should be repaired in mulch, and water the soil abundantly. Each spring, it is necessary to prune, which performs a formative function, and also stimulates the growth of young shoots. At the same time, intensive pruning can be done only when 3 years have passed since the moment the heather was planted. Try to keep the shape of the crown. Rule of cutting: the inflorescence with the left hand must be held by the upper part, and with the right - you need to cut ½ or 2/3 of the inflorescence. The cut parts can be finely chopped and sprinkled on top of the mulch.

Pests and diseases

This plant is highly resistant to harmful insects and diseases, but is sometimes affected by viral or fungal diseases. Often heather gets sick with gray rot. The development of this disease can be caused by poor water permeability of the soil or due to the fact that in spring the snow cover decreases excessively quickly, as a result, the liquid stagnates in the root system. In an infected specimen, a plaque appears on the stems, then the leaves and shoots themselves die. To combat the disease, plant treatment with fungicidal agents is used, and Topaz and Fundazol cope with this disease best. If the bush is very affected, then treatment with a solution of copper sulfate (1%) will be required. It is necessary to process heather 3 times with interruptions of 5-10 days. For prevention purposes, the plant is treated with fungicides in spring immediately after shelter is removed from it. It is also necessary to spray the bushes in the fall during preparation for the winter.

If the bush is infected with powdery mildew, the young shoots begin to fade, and a whitish, loose coating appears on the leaf plates. If brown-red spots appear on the leaves, this means that the heather is infected with rust. These two diseases are fungal, like gray rot, so they are combated with fungicidal agents.

If a bush is struck by a viral disease, then its flowers or stems can become deformed, and the color of the flowers and leaves becomes uneven, it becomes uncharacteristic for this variety. This disease cannot be cured, in this regard, the affected plants must be dug up and destroyed. The area in which they grew must be watered with a very strong solution of potassium permanganate.

In the event that the plant is grown on soil that suits him and receives the necessary care, then it is unlikely to get sick.

Heather breeding

How to propagate this plant with seeds is described above. Even heather can be propagated by layering, dividing the bush or cuttings. At the end of the summer period, the apical cuttings need to be cut, while they are taken from the strongest flowering branches. For rooting, they are planted in pots filled with a mixture of peat and sand (3: 1). They need to be put in a cool place (from 15 to 18 degrees), while the soil should be constantly slightly moist. Once every 1.5–2 months, the cuttings need to be fertilized, for this they use a solution of urea (1 gram of water per gram of substance) or micronutrient fertilizers. In spring, rooted plants are transplanted into open soil.

Heather is often propagated by layering on its own. Over time, the old branches of heather lie on the surface of the soil and give roots. In order to get layering, it is necessary to bend, located at the very bottom, a mature stem and fix it on the surface of the earth. Then it is covered with a layer of peat, the thickness of which should be equal to 10 mm. After 12 months, it will be necessary to separate the layering and put it in a permanent place.

Heather is most simply and easily propagated by dividing the rhizome. This procedure is carried out at the end of the summer period. To do this, dig a mature bush. The soil does not need to be removed from the roots, they are cut into several parts so that on each of the divisions there are roots and a young shoot. Before planting a dividend, old stems should be cut. They are immediately planted in a permanent place in different pits, while do not forget to sprinkle the places of the slices with crushed coal.

Heather after flowering

In regions with a warm climate, this plant tolerates winter without shelter. But in the event that winters are severe and have little snow, heather is better prepared for wintering. When frost sets in, the surface of the plot should be sprinkled with a layer of peat, and then cover the heather itself with spruce branches, which will protect the plants from frost and sunburn in spring. It will be necessary to remove the shelter in April.

Main types and varieties with photos and names

Common Heather (Calluna vulgaris) - This is the only species in the family. Often consider heather Erica, which is closely related to this plant. However, heather and erica are different plants. Heather ordinary has a huge number of excellent varieties, at this time there are about 500 pieces. Gardeners divide all these varieties into 6 different groups.

1 group. Varieties having green foliage

  1. Allegro. The height of this evergreen shrub is about 0.6 m, and its crown has a diameter of about 0.5 m. There is a compact fairly dense crown, dark brown bark and scaly leafy plates of a dark green color. Flowering is observed from the last days of July to the end of October. Red-carmine flowers are simple glossy, they are collected in long inflorescences. The plant is winter-resistant, only young bushes need to be covered for wintering.
  2. Carmen. This hybrid variety, bred in the Netherlands, is very popular in European countries. The bush reaches a height of 0.3-0.4 m, has a rounded crown, small dark green leaves, dark brown bark, simple pinkish-purple flowers that are collected in peduncles (length up to 10 centimeters). It is frost-resistant, but needs shelter during the winter.

Also popular are such varieties as: Radnor, Duckness, Ross Hatton, Mazurka, Marco, Barnett Enley, Hoxtone and others.

3rd group. Varieties with silver foliage

  1. Silver Knight. This variety is bred in England. The height of the bush is about 0.3 m, and the diameter of the compact pillow-shaped crown is 0.45 m. The bark is dark brown, grayish-silver leaf plates have pubescence. In winter, the leaves become burgundy. Simple pale purple or lilac flowers are collected in inflorescences, having a length of 20 centimeters. Resistant to cold, but for wintering it needs to be covered.
  2. Peter Sparks. The variety is also obtained in England. The height of the bush is about 0.5 m, and the diameter of its oval crown is 0.6 m. The bark is dark brown, small scaly leaves in the summer and autumn are dark green, and in the winter and spring it is greenish-gray. Terry dark pink flowers are part of inflorescences, the length of which is 0.3 m. It has moderate frost resistance.

Also popular are such varieties as: Annmarie, Velvet Fashion, Jan Decker, Glendwick Silver and others.

5th group. Varieties having terry flowers

  1. Autumn Glow. The height of the spreading shrub is about 0.3 m, and the diameter of its crown is about 0.45 m. At the branches, the ends are raised. Dark green leafy plates, pale lilac, densely-terry flowers are part of short rather dense racemose inflorescences.
  2. Monica. The height of the wide-spreading shrub is 0.55 m, and the diameter of its crown is 0.8 m. Wide-rising branches are very strong. Dark green leaf plates in winter become grayish. Terry reddish-pink flowers are very large, collected in dense racemose inflorescences.

Also popular are such varieties as: Red Fairit, Dark Star, Alba Plena, Joan Sparks, County Wicklow.

Useful properties of heather

Heather has medicinal properties that are used in both folk and traditional medicine. It is widely used in the treatment of cough, kidney disease, cystitis, pyelitis, urethritis, dysentery, diarrhea, gastritis, enterocolitis, rheumatism, gout, and also skin diseases. Heather blooms are harvested from the last days of June to September, because during this period it contains the largest number of useful substances: flavonoids, mineral salts of phosphorus, potassium, calcium and sodium, organic acids. Thanks to them, the plant has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, diaphoretic, wound healing, expectorant, diuretic, astringent, cleansing and sedative effect.

A decoction of this shrub is used for insomnia and disorders of the nervous system, for atherosclerosis of the vessels, diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, high acidity, cholecystitis and obesity. If the throat is inflamed or there is inflammation in the mouth, then the decoction is used to rinse. Alcohol tincture on this plant helps with tuberculosis. Powder is made from crushed flowers, which helps with ulcers, eczema, wounds and burns.With radiculitis, heather baths are taken. The infusion, prepared from flowers, is rubbed into the skin of the head, this helps to get rid of hair loss and improve their health.

You can take heather for everyone, but still, before proceeding with treatment with this plant, you need to consult an experienced doctor. It is better to refrain from taking medications made from heather inside those who have low acidity of gastric juice.

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