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Cape Heath

Erica cerinthoides

Fire Heath

This re-sprouting, low growing erica has clusters of hairy tubular flowers that are mostly bright red, but can vary to white and creamy pink. Some can grow up to 1.5 m, if not burnt, and is a tough plant that can withstand dry conditions. Fertilizers need to be low in phosphates and roots should not be disturbed. This attractive garden plant brings birds to the garden.

Planning

Difficulty
Moderate
Flowering time
Summer, Autumn
Fruiting time
Autumn

Harvesting

Flowers can be harvested for flower arrangements.

Propagation

Seed
Sow seeds shallowly in Autumn. Germination takes 6 weeks but can be improved if seeds are treated with “Instant Smoke Plus Seed Primer” smoke extract. Transplant when about 10 cm tall.
Cuttings
Best time to root cuttings is in autumn or spring and takes 8 weeks. Treat heel cuttings with rooting hormone for semi-hardwood material for best results. Use overhead misting and heating from below.

Special features

Attracts birds
The showy red flowers are high in nectar - attracting bird pollinators.
Pot plant
Fire heath does very well in containers where they can be kept compact and well shaped by pruning after flowering.

Geography

Origin
South Africa, Cedarberg Mountains in the Western Cape, through the Eastern Cape, Transkei, Natal Drakensberg, into Mpumalanga, Lesotho, Swaziland, and as far north as the Soutpansberg in the Northern Province.
Natural climate
Mediterranean

Environment

Light
Full Sun
Soil moisture
Moist
Soil type
Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil PH preference
Acid
Frost hardiness
Half-Hardy

Uses

Notes
An attractive garden plant that brings birds to the garden.

Personality

Family
Ericaceae
Flower colour
Deep red, with white and creamy pink varieties., Orange, White, Pink, Red
Scent
None

Problems

Fire heath is generally not bothered by pests or diseases.

Companion plants

Restios and other fynbos plants

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