I have a tree heather (Erica arborea) in my rockery (acid soil) which I grew from a seedling about twenty years ago. Until it was severely damaged by a prolonged freeze-up last winter, it was about seven feet tall, flowering regularly and thriving. Unfortunately, the weather was so harsh that it is now barely alive. I have cut back the deadwood, and all that is left are two branches, both of which are in leaf and stemming from the same limb (see photos; click to enlarge).

Do you think it may be possible to save it and, if so, what sort of first aid would you recommend?

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1 Answer 1


If it were me (having grown it from seed and looked after it for 20 odd years), I'd most definitely give it a further year in the ground, before making a final decision on removing it (fingers-crossed it won't come to that).

In the meantime I would:

  • Spread a 50mm layer of good quality compost all the way around it (about 1 to 1.5m diameter). This will feed the shrub naturally and slowly.
  • Keep a regular eye on it & check for any sign of pest damage/infection.
  • In warm, dry spells, make sure it gets a good drink (water slowly & deeply).
  • Propagate, take a cutting or two and try to grow new stock on (therefore if worst case scenario strikes and you lose the original, you will have a new shrub from the parent stock).
  • If the shrub was still in the ground when winter arrives and appears to be making a recovery, I would come up with something to protect it through the worst of the winter weather.
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    Just to let you know that I took a stem-tip cutting, a heel cutting, and a hardwood one (although autumn would have been a better time for the last), and placed them in some open compost (with a high wood fiber content) in a 5" pot, under a polythene bag. All three have rooted, in record time! Jul 16, 2011 at 17:12
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    @Mancuniensis just a heads up, you might find BBC Gardeners' Corner podcast (Sat, 16 Jul 11), starting @ 11min:25sec in, worth a listen: bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/garden & direct link to referenced podcast: downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/northernireland/garden/…
    – Mike Perry
    Jul 17, 2011 at 19:44

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