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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - April 27, 2007

From: Vernon, BC
Region: Canada
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Alternatives to non-native heather (Calluna vulgaris)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in Vernon, BC, Canada. I plan to put a heather plant in my garden, but my space is limited. I know that it will grow approx. 2 ft. high and that it likes well drained and acidic soil, but how much will it spread, and how long will it bloom? Will it become intrusive to other plants?

ANSWER:

Our focus and expertise at the Wildflower Center is with plants native to North America. Calluna vulgaris, Scotch heather is an introduced species native to Europe and Asia. It is classified as invasive in North Carolina, Massachusetts and Rhode Island as well as in some parts of New Zealand and Australia. You will need to be diligent about keeping it under control.

Perhaps, instead of heather, you could consider a native plant with similar growth habit, such as:

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (kinnikinnick)

Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda (shrubby cinquefoil)

Gaultheria shallon (salal)

Kalmia polifolia (bog laurel)

Mahonia repens (creeping barberry)

Phyllodoce empetriformis (pink mountainheath)

Spiraea splendens var. splendens (rose meadowsweet)


Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda

Gaultheria shallon

Kalmia polifolia

Mahonia repens

Phyllodoce empetriformis

Spiraea splendens var. splendens
 

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