White heather (Erica umbellata)

bush full of round flowers

Today we will talk about the erica umbellata, a plant that stands out for being really beautiful not only to decorate interiors, but also exteriors; to what It is also called White Heather, so if you want to know all the details about its characteristics, habitat, care, etc., we invite you to continue reading so that you can use it to beautify your garden / home.

Characteristics of white heather

branches with pink flowers of erica umbellara

Belonging to the Ericaceae family, the Genus Erica is composed of shrubs of more than 700 different species from not only Europe and Africa, but also from the Mediterranean basin; among the species of this genus are the erica australis (Red heather), Erica multiflora (Heather) and of course, Tree heather (White heather).

The white heather consists of a tall shrub which has abundant branches, which usually reach around 2-4m in height and have flowers that stand out for being really beautiful, especially to use as an ornamental plant. Likewise, within its main characteristics we can mention the following:

Its leaves are erect-patent and are arranged in whorls of 3 in 3, they have a linear and lanceolate shape, being so revolutionary that they almost do not allow to appreciate the underside; Furthermore, their upper surface is usually hairy while they are young and they are also characterized by being ciliated.

Its flowers stand out for being gathered in terminal inflorescences that have an umbel-like appearance, each one has about 3-6 ovoid flowers and they do not present any basal involvement; what's more, their pedicels are reddish or yellowish brown, which measure around 5mm, are distinguished by being pubescent and having 3-4 bracteoles of approximately 1.5mm.

Its calyx is composed of sepals that measure around 2mm, slightly free, with an oblong-lanceolate shape; They are green, have glandular hairs, being also subaquillados and ciliates.

Its corolla is sub-cylindrical or urceolate, measuring around 3.5-5.5mm, it has a purple or pink tone that is white at some point; at its end it has 5 patent or upright lobes of approximately 0.4mm.

Its androecium has stamens that have anthers measuring approximately 1-2 mm, slightly exerted, free of appendages and dorsifixes, which in certain cases tend to appear bounced. Her gynoecium has a glabrous ovary that has a style that measures around 5mm, quite sharp and slim, which culminates with a capitate and discoidal stigma that tends to be dilated in its flowering season.

Habitat of the erica umbellata

White heather grows on stark and impoverished siliceous soils, preferably sandy, in areas with a mild and slightly humid climate. Therefore, from the area of ​​the dunes and subcoastal sands, its habitat rises until it surpasses approximately an altitude of 1.300 meters.

Care

shrub with small pink or lilac florets

If you want to grow this shrub in your garden, you need to take into account certain factors that allow you to ensure its proper growth. To start, it is essential that you make sure you have soil that has good drainage, since when planting it in a land that does not favor drainage, it will end up causing problems of water accumulation, and when the soil is flooded, it is very likely that the roots will drown and end up dying, since it does not allow the plant to count with good aeration and consequently, this affects its proper development.

In the same way, it is essential that you keep in mind that you should not plant this plant in calcareous soils; In addition, when you want to transplant it, it will be necessary to do it during the spring or throughout the autumn, since in these times despite greater rainfall, there is usually a temperature high enough to allow this shrub to adjust correctly to its conditions .

Regarding its irrigation, it is necessary that you do not forget that you will have to water the white heather in a moderate way, since being a plant capable of withstanding periods of drought in a good way, it is not necessary that you worry much about it, always and when the ground counts with a good drainage system and is almost completely dry.

Actually, it is usually best to water this plant when you see that the substrate is completely dry. In addition, in order to achieve a better development of your erica umbellata, it is advisable that you provide a good compost when autumn comes, betting either on natural compost or on mulch.

Maintenance

La erica umbellata stands out for being a type of shrub that does not require great maintenance, although it is always advisable that you carry out some pruning With the purpose of getting rid of both the oldest branches and those flower spikes that are withered.

You have to carry out these prunings at the end of spring, since at this time there is a better time and, as we already mentioned, the plant will be able to adapt to a greater extent to its new conditions. Under no circumstances is it appropriate for you to prune if frost is possible, as otherwise the white heather could die.

Finally, we can say that because it is a fairly simple type of plant to grow, which has great resistance, it is not common for it to present problems due to pests and neither any kind of diseases. That is the reason why it turns out to be an ideal shrub to grow in gardens; In addition, it is possible to multiply it through seeds during the spring or through cuttings when the summer ends.

Uses

branches with pink flowers of erica umbellara

In relation to the uses of this plant, we may point out that it has several traditional uses, highlighting among them the elaboration of brooms, which used to be done frequently in ancient times, because the thin and dense branches that it has is ideal for sweeping. In the same way, it used to be used for the purpose of making certain roofs, palisades and shelters against rain, wind and sun, as well as to achieve greater privacy.

Due to its multiple branches, the firewood it has, turns out to be used as a high quality fuel, at the same time that it is totally suitable for making charcoal in forges and furnaces. In addition, its wood is often highly sought after among turners and cabinetmakers in order to use it in different sizes.

Now that you know more about white heather, would you like to use it to decorate your garden? If yes then do not forget to take into account the care that we have mentioned previously.


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