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A saying goes: "Autumn time is heath time". While many plants prepare for the coming hibernation in autumn, heather plants ensure a cheerful play of colours. Many heather varieties are not only hardy, but even bloom in the cold season. We will show you 8 varieties that can withstand low temperatures and will also decorate your garden or balcony in winter.

Hardy heather

Heath is very popular in the cold season. But not every variety is prepared for the German winter. The following varieties of heather are hardy.


The common heather is an evergreen, woody dwarf shrub that is absolutely frost hardy in local regions. It usually reaches an age of 10 to 15 years and in exceptional cases can even live to be 40 years old. In order for the slow-growing heather to grow and thrive magnificently, the optimal site conditions must be met. The heather prefers a sunny to light location and a nutrient-poor, well-drained and lime-poor soil. The common heather thrives best in a bog bed. When it comes to care, it is quite undemanding, it would like to be watered regularly and fertilized in spring. In spring, i.e. in the period from March to April, pruning is also recommended.

  • Latin name: Calluna vulgaris
  • Origin: Europe, especially Central and Northern Europe
  • Growth height: up to 50 cm
  • Growth form: upright, dense
  • Flowering time: August to the end of September, some varieties also in winter
  • Flower color: pink, violet, white, red
  • Hardy: very good, from -10 °C frost protection recommended

notice: The common heather was voted flower of the year 2022!

winter or snow heather

The winter heath or snow heath is absolutely frost hardy and can easily cope with temperatures down to -30 °C. However, it is advisable to protect them from excessive sunlight and wind in winter so that the plant does not dry out. The heather prefers a sunny to half-shady location and sandy to loamy soil. It thrives best in moderately dry to fresh soil that is also alkaline to acidic. The winter heather is lime tolerant and very easy to care for. Fertilization is only required on older heaths and/or on lean sites. There is no need for an annual pruning, because the hardy heather should only be cut every two to three years.

  • Latin name: Erica carnea
  • Origin: Mountains in Central and Southern Europe
  • Growth height: up to 30 cm
  • Growth habit: ground covering, low
  • Flowering time: February to April
  • Flower color: pink, white, red
  • hardy: very good, down to -30 °C

notice: The winter heather is an important food source for many insects due to its flowering time!


The heathland withstands the local frost without any problems, because it is completely hardy down to -23 °C. Only in the first winter after replanting should the heather be protected from frost, for example with a covering of brushwood. In order for the Ährenheide to feel particularly comfortable in its location, it should be in full sun as much as possible. However, it also gets along well with partial shade. It also makes only low demands on the soil: the soil should be as acidic as possible and have a pH of 4.5 to 6.5. A peat-sand mixture is ideal for the Ährenheide.

  • Latin name: Erica spiculifolia
  • Synonyms: Siebenbürgerheide
  • Origin: Mountains of Romania and the Balkans
  • Growth height: about 15 cm
  • Growth form: upright
  • Flowering period: July and August
  • Flower color: light pink, white, intense red
  • hardy: very good, down to -23 °C

notice: The flowers of the common heather smell particularly intense!

bell heather

The bell heather owes its name to the bell-shaped flowers, which shine in a beautiful pink. Thanks to its low stature, it makes a particularly good ground cover, and it can be combined well with rhododendrons or azaleas. Because these plants have very similar demands on the soil and location. The bell heather prefers a sunny to shady spot and sandy to loamy soil. The subsoil should also be as nutrient-poor and humus-rich as possible. However, it is important that the soil is as moist as possible, which is why bell heathers are best planted in heather or peat bogs.

  • Latin name: Erica tetralix
  • Synonyms: Doppheide, Toppheide, Dopphehe, Sumpfheide, Torfheide, Forchheide
  • Synonyms: bog heath
  • Origin: Europe (Portugal, France but also Denmark and southwest Sweden)
  • Growth height: 20 - 50 cm
  • Flowering time: pink, white, purple
  • Flower color: June to September
  • hardy: good, down to approx. -15 °C

grape heather

The grape heather can also withstand severe frost without any problems, because it is completely frost-hardy. In contrast to most other heather varieties, grape heather feels particularly at home in shady to partially shaded locations. Ideally, the soil is also loamy and moist and only moderately rich in nutrients. Grape heather decorates the home garden with its foliage all year round, but it can also be cultivated in pots on the balcony or terrace. More compact grape heather varieties such as "Nana" or "Makijaz" are particularly suitable for this.

  • Latin name: leucothoe
  • Synonyms: Cornwall heather, bent grape heather
  • Origin: North-Southeast USA
  • Growth height: 1 - 2 m
  • Growth form: ground cover
  • Flowering time: April to June
  • Flower color: white
  • hardy: very good, down to -20 °C

notice: The heather owes its name "curved grape heather" to its protruding and arching branches.

Gray Heath

The gray heath owes its name to the gray bark of its branches. However, the heather is anything but a "gray mouse" because its flowers are extremely colorful. It looks great in the garden in a heather bed as well as in a bucket or in a window box on the balcony. It is important that the Gray Heath gets a sunny to semi-shady place. In terms of the substrate, the heather proves to be quite undemanding, because the soil should only be low in lime and acidic. In order for the gray heather to grow short and bushy, it should be cut back annually after flowering.

  • Latin name: Erica cinerea
  • Synonyms: gray heather
  • Origin: Atlantic coast to Norway, Mediterranean area
  • Growth height: 15 - 25 cm
  • Growth form: short and bushy
  • Flowering period: June and July
  • Flower color: light pink, white, crimson
  • hardy: good, down to -10 °C

tree heath

The tree heather is quite hardy in local regions, because it tolerates frost down to minus 15 °C. However, in harsh winters it is still advisable to equip the tree heath with winter protection. A garden fleece, but also brushwood or fir branches are suitable for this. The tree heath is best planted in a sunny to semi-shady location, which is ideally also sheltered from the wind. A permeable, sandy soil with a pH value between 4 and 5 is optimal. When it comes to care, the tree heath is very reserved, because it only wants to be watered regularly with low-lime water. A slight pruning after flowering is also recommended. Fertilizers, on the other hand, can be dispensed with.

  • Latin name: Erica arborea
  • Origin: Canaries
  • Growth height: up to 1m
  • Growth form: bushy, branched
  • Flowering period: February to July
  • Flower color: white
  • hardy: good, down to -15 °C

Winter flowering heathers "Kramer's Rote"

The Kramer's Rotes are not only completely frost hardy, they even flower in the cold season! From December to April, they adorn the local gardens with their numerous pink flowers. If you want to enjoy the colorful sea of flowers, you should plant the wind-blooming heather in a sunny and wind-protected location. The soil should be as sandy as possible and as nutrient-poor as possible. The hardy heather prefers acidic soils, but also tolerates calcareous substrates. In order to keep the plants as vital and healthy as possible, they should be pruned annually after flowering.

  • Latin name: Erica x darleyensis 'Kramer's Red'
  • Growth height: 30 - 40 cm
  • Growth form: upright and bushy
  • Flowering time: December to April
  • Flower color: pink
  • hardy: good, protection from frost required in extreme temperatures

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