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Plant Profile: St. Dabeoc’s Heath (Daboecia cantabrica)

Heath daboecia-cantabricaNative of western Ireland, France, Northern Spain, and Portugal, this evergreen shrub can be upright and tidy or prostrate and unkempt. It grows up to two feet tall and wide, and has thin stems with small, oval, leaves that are dark on the top side and white below. From summer to fall four inch long spikes of bell-shaped flowers are produced in white, pink, lavender, and red. The flowers are about ½” long and some are double or bicolored. Closely related to the genus Erica (true heathers), St. Dabeoc’s heath can be distinguished by its larger corolla and alternate rather than whorled leaves. Like Erica, it thrives in acid soil but tolerates neutral ones.

Type: Flowering evergreen shrub

Outstanding Feature: Flowers

Form: Erect and tidy to prostrate and unkempt

Growth Rate: Moderate

Bloom: Four inch long racemes of half inch long bell-shaped flowers in white, pink, red, and lavender are produced from summer into fall.

Size: 24” H x 24” W

Light: Full sun; tolerates some shade but will sprawl and need more pruning.

Soil: Organically rich, moist, well-drained, pH 5.1-6.5

Hardiness: Zones 6-10

Care: Prune in early to mid-spring before new growth appears; protect from cold winds; water during droughty periods.

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Seed, semi-ripe cuttings, layering

Outstanding Selections:

    ‘Bicolor’ (striped white and purple)
    ‘Alba’ (large white flowers)

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