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ERICA cinerea 'Atropurpurea'

Image of Erica cinerea 'Atropurpurea'

JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University

Family

Ericaceae

Botanical Name

ERICA cinerea 'Atropurpurea'

Plant Common Name

Bell Heather

General Description

The bell heather 'Atropurpurea' is an evergreen subshrub grown for its clusters of bell-shaped, violet flowers which appear from early summer through autumn. Hailing from Western and Central Europe, Erica cinerea is one of the most difficult Erica to establish, though once it has it is quite drought tolerant and tough. Its fine, needle-like leaves are medium to dark green and held in whorls of three on gray, upright branches.

The tiny lowers are bell-shaped and appear in dense clusters along the branch tips from late spring to early autumn. They may be pendent or held horizontally and are most commonly vivid violet-purple but pink or white forms also exist. They typically self-pollinate but honeybees also frequent the blossoms, yielding flavorful heather honey.

Plant heather in full sun and sandy, humus-rich, well-drained, acid soil. Alkaline or clay soils should be completely avoided. Consistent even soil moisture is the key to success; it will not tolerate wet or bone dry soils. Shear off the faded flower spikes to keep the plant compact, but avoid cutting into the leafless woody stems. Protect it from cold, drying winter winds to avoid winter burn. It is right at home in rock gardens or heather borders, and does particularly well on slopes.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 6

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    6 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    4, 5, 6, 15, 16, 17

  • Plant Type

    Shrub

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    10"-12" / 25.4cm - 30.5cm

  • Width

    18"-22" / 45.7cm - 55.9cm

  • Bloom Time

    Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer, Early Fall, Fall

  • Native To

    Europe, Northern Europe, Western Europe, United Kingdom

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Salt

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Spreading

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Violet

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Container, Feature Plant, Groundcover, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No