The everlasting Erica

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on 9 July 2021, 09:06

Often forgotten about for other seemingly more 'interesting' species, the good old Erica is a classic plant that is often only used now as a fill-in species for the likes of urban landscaping and public spaces. However, Ericas have some fantastic qualities that should be taken into account next time you are considering what to plant. 

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With plenty of varieties to choose from, Ericas can be planted in a range of spaces and gardens. They make the perfect addition in a rock or cottage garden with their petite flowers adding a small burst of colour, or planted across a slope to form a dense groundcover (goodbye weeds). Erica's also look great planted in pots, meaning those small urban gardeners can enjoy their winter blooms as well. 

Ericas are a fantastic species for planting in New Zealand. Extremely hardy and tolerant of frost and cold, they bloom over winter and spring adding some much welcomed colour to a cold, boggy winter’s day. For their first year of establishment, they might benefit from some protection over winter and may get frosted tips if you live in an area of hard frosts. Prune the flowered stems back gently after flowering and they will come back again beautifully. Pruning them back will also help control them and keep them as a compact plant. 

Pruning Ericas also has an added bonus, they make excellent cut flowers. They will stay fresh for up to two weeks - make sure you change the water daily. You can also mist them to add some more life. Ericas are often used as space filler for bouquets and flower arrangements, with their bell shaped flowers looking spectacular upon close inspection. 

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Ericas are a great plant to have in your garden if you are wanting to attract the birds and bees. Because of their winter flowering, they provide crucial nectar throughout winter when most other plants aren’t flowering. Birds such as waxeyes are commonly associated with Ericas in New Zealand. Honey bees and bumble bees love flowers which are open and simple, as they are the easiest to feed from, such as Erica's flowers. They love blue, purple, pink, and white coloured flowers (they can’t see red), so if you are looking to attract bees with your Ericas keep this in mind! 

 

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