Erica carnea

Spring Heath, Winter Heath




  • native to central and southern Europe
  • zone 5

Habit and Form

  • a low growing evergreen shrub
  • up to 12" tall; twice as wide as tall
  • broad spreading or trailing
  • becomes irregular in shape with age
  • dense and compact
  • slow growing

Summer Foliage

  • small, needle-like leaves about .2" to .3" long
  • color is bright green
  • leaf arrangement is whorled to opposite
  • leaves have very short petioles
  • leaf margins turned under

Autumn Foliage

  • evergreen with no fall color


  • blooms in late winter to early spring (late March to early April)
  • individual flowers are small and cylindrical
  • flowers borne in one-sided racemes
  • color is red to pink for the straight species
  • typically showy in bloom


  • small, ornamentally unimportant capsules


  • not or ornamental importance


  • requires moist, acidic perfectly-drained soils
  • soils should be low in fertility and high in organic matter
  • full sun to partial shade

Landscape Use

  • for rock gardens
  • in groupings
  • as a groundcover
  • for early spring bloom
  • filler plant with other ericaceous plants


  • need specific site requirements
  • cold injury is likely in severe winters
  • often killed by overfertilizing in landscapes

ID Features

  • needle-like evergreen leaves in whorls
  • leaf margins rolled under
  • early spring bloom


  • by seed
  • by cuttings


There exist many more than 100 cultivars of this plant, few of which are in general commerce. The brief listings below present a brief overview of the diversity available.

'King George' - 12" tall; flowers crimson.

'Springwood Pink' - light pink flower; 8" tall; common in the trade.

'Springwood White' - 8" tall; flowers white; common in the trade.

'Vivelii' - 8" tall; flowers red.

'Winter Beauty' - 5" tall; pink flowers.

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

The digital materials (images and text) available from the UConn Plant Database are protected by copyright. Public use via the Internet for non-profit and educational purposes is permitted. Use of the materials for profit is prohibited.

Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database,, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.