Erica carnea (syn. Erica herbacea)
Spring Heath, Winter Heath ER-i-ka KAR-nee-a
Two very common cultivars:
- Broadleaf evergreen ground cover, to 10 inches (25 cm), forms cushions or mats from which flower spikes extend. Needle-like leaves to 8 mm in whorls of 4, linear. Flesh colored (carnea = flesh colored) flowers form in fall and bloom after the snow melts. May bloom for several months.
- Sun. Takes shade in hot summer areas. Prefers acid soils, tolerates neutral or alkaline. Unsightly unless pruned every year.
- Zone 5 Native to the mountains of central and southeastern Europe. Often found among Pinus mugo, P. sylvestris, and P. nigra.
- Erica: apparently derived from both the ancient Greek ereiken, "to break" and the Latin erice for this particular plant. Possibly refers to the late winter flowering as "breaking" the grip of the season.
- Over 100 cultivars named, with flower colors of white, and shades of pink and purple. The type (species) is generally not cultivated. Frequently used with Calluna vulgaris and Daboecia spp. in "heath gardens".
- Erica carnea 'King George' (aka 'Winter Beauty') --- broadleaf evergreen ground cover, to 15 inches (38 cm), dense habit, dark green leaves, deep rich pink flowers.
- Erica carnea 'Springwood White' --- broadleaf evergreen ground cover, to 8 inches (20 cm), light green leaves, creamy white flowers. Tought, fast growing.