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Common Name: Fire Heath
Erica cerinthoides is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 1.50 metres tall.
It has edible and miscellaneous uses.
S. Africa from the Cape to northern Transvaal and Swaziland.
Dry flats and in the mountains[
]. Found in a variety of habitats from the coastal plains to to tops of mountains[
Requires a light lime-free loam[
]. A calcifuge plant, requiring a pH below 6[
]. Prefers a well-drained acidic soil with a pH in the range of 5.5 to 6.7[
]. Grows best in a poor soil[
]. Prefers an open situation[
This species is unlikely to be hardy in Britain. One report suggests that it can be grown in the milder areas[
], but another says that it is not frost-tolerant[
]. This species is not tolerant of severe frosts, though it will usually resprout if the growth is killed by lighter frosts[
An extremely variable species, varying particularly in growth habit, hairiness of leaves and flowers, and in size, shape and colour of its flowers[
In the wild the plant is often burnt down in fires, resprouting from the base[
]. Indeed, this regular burning keeps the plant healthy and, in cultivation, it is advisable to prune the plant back hard each year and to dress it with a light dressing of bonfire soil[
A good bee plant[
Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[
The flowers are sucked for their abundant sweet nectar[
The plant is fire-resistant.
Seed - surface sow in a sandy compost in a cold frame in spring. Keep moist. Prick out the plants as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant them in their permanent positions when they are 5 - 8cm tall[
]. The seed usually germinates after about six weeks and the seedlings are delicate in their early stages[
]. Particular care should be taken to water gently and to protect the seedlings from direct sunlight[
]. Seedlings may be planted out into individual bags or pots once they have grown to a height of at least 1 cm, but should only be planted out in the garden once they have grown to about 10 cm[
]. Plant out in late spring, after the danger of late frosts, and give protection over winter for their first year or two[
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 3cm long taken from twiggy lateral growths near the base of the plant, mid summer in a frame. Remove the leaves from the bottom part of the stem without causing any damage to the bark. The cuttings root in a few weeks if they are given some bottom heat. Plant out in spring[
Layering in spring or autumn. Plants can be 'dropped' and then dug up and divided about 6 - 12 months later. Dropping involves digging up the plant and then replanting it about 15 - 20cm deeper in the soil to encourage roots to form along the stems[