The generic name Calluna is derived from a Greek word meaning 'to sweep', and the plants were used to make brooms. The specific name vulgaris is derived from a Latin word for 'common'. The heathers are low growing evergreen sub-shrubs native to many parts of Europe and parts of North America. The species have small, opposite, four-ranked leaves and spikes of tiny flowers in many different colors. C. vulgaris, also called ‘Common Heather’, is a small shrub that grows on the mountains and moorlands of northern and western British Isles. C. vulgaris is the only species in Calluna, and being variable, many varieties have been produced which differ greatly in height and color of foliage and color of flowers. Plants bloom from late summer to early fall and typically are a mauve-pink color and produced in great amounts. They can be forced for winter and spring blooming, and are often sold in pots in bloom. Its the national flower of Norway and they have been introduced into other parts of the world as garden escapes.
Heathers grow in nutrient poor, well-draining, acidic soils, in a bright sunny location. They resent lime. When planting in the ground, space out the plants about 36 inches apart, except dwarf forms, which can be placed 12 to 18 inches apart. Plant out in early fall or spring. A spring, pruning of the dead dry stems produces fresher looking plants, cut the old stems off close to the ground. Were winters are harsh, winter protection should be provided; and laying evergreen branches over the plants in the fall works well. Seeds are very small and nearly dust like and should be surface sown and the soil needs to remain most, with watering best done from below.