The Erica Genus (Heath)

There are at least 850 different species of plants which fall under the Erica genus, and nearly 700 of them are only found in South Africa.

The rest come from Europe, Madagascar, parts of the Mediterranean, and other areas of Africa.

These plants hail from the Erica plant family, and most of them will only grow in soil which has an acidic pH, which is also where the term ericaceous comes from.

At A Glance: What You Should Know About The Erica Genus

Most plants within the Erica genus are shrubs, but there are a few which are trees, too.

You can recognize erica plants by their tiny leaves, as well as the bell-shaped blooms which are just as small, and these gorgeous flowers nearly smother the leaves when the plants are in bloom.

Each bloom features around four sepals which form the calyx, and the corolla is made up of separate petals.

You can find erica flowers in shades of pink, white, red, purple, and yellow, and they flower at different times of the year, depending on what type you get.

These plants are well-suited to garden borders, rockeries, pots, and hanging baskets, making them a versatile option for any garden.

How To Tell The Difference Between Calluna And Erica

Calluna and Erica genera can easily be confused (see also The Calluna Genus), as both keep their leaves in winter, they don’t require a lot of attention, and both flower abundantly.

Plants belonging to the Calluna genus are often referred to as heathers, and those in the Erica genus are known as heaths.

Heathers feature scale-like foliage, while heaths have leaves that are similar to those of a conifer.

There is some difference in cold temperature tolerance that these plants can stand, too. Heathers can withstand freezing temperatures without any problem, while heaths prefer warmer temperatures where they can get it.

In terms of the flowers, you can tell the difference in the calyx and the corollas of each. 

The calyx is the layer of the flower made up of sepals, which helps protect the delicate structure of the bloom, and the corolla is the group of petals.

In the heathers, the calyx is much longer than the corolla, and in the heaths, the corollas are much larger than the calyx.

Erica Name Origin

Like many genera, the genus name for Erica is Latin in origin. It means heath or broom.

Erica Flower Symbolism

Erica flowers represent prosperity, luck, protection, affection, and wealth.

Erica Plant Uses

Erica plants have a lot of ornamental value, and look particularly good when planted near conifers, which require similar conditions.

Ericas are often planted in large areas that could do with a lot of ground cover and color, as they provide a lot of both throughout the year.

Erica Growing Requirements

Ericas are hardy in USDA zones 5 through 8, and while most will reach about 3 feet high, you can get dwarf varieties which are more compact, suitable for containers.

One thing ericas absolutely need is good drainage, in damp, acidic soil.

They grow well in a sunny position or partial shade, and only require an average amount of water.

It helps that the plants under the Erica genus don’t require a lot of maintenance, and they will largely look after themselves.

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