Cape Heath Erica verticillata

👤 Non-toxic to humans
🐾 Non-toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Hard-care
whorl heath


Erica verticillata, commonly known as the whorled heath, is characterized by its slender, upright, and branched appearance that gives it a fine-textured look. The plant exhibits dark green, needle-like leaves that are arranged in whorls around the stems, contributing to the plant's common name. The foliage is often dense, providing a lush background for the flowers. The whorled heath blooms profusely with small, tubular flowers clustered toward the ends of the stems. These flowers are typically pink, although variations in color can occur, with some displaying white or deeper shades of pink. The bloom clusters create a delicate, feathery impression and have a light, pleasing fragrance. The blooms attract various pollinators, adding an ecological value to its aesthetic appeal. Overall, the whorled heath is appreciated for its fine foliage and profusion of flowers that provide a splash of color in landscapes where it is cultivated. Its overall form can be described as graceful and somewhat airy, making it a favored choice for gardeners looking to add texture and continuous color to their garden space.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Cape Heath, Whorled Heath.

    • Common names

      Erica verticillata.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Erica verticillata, commonly known as the Cape Heath, is not typically known for being toxic to humans. There are no widespread reports of this plant causing poisoning when touched or ingested. However, it's always advisable to exercise caution as individual sensitivities can vary, and ingestion of any non-food plants should generally be avoided due to potential unknown effects or personal allergies.

    • To pets

      Erica verticillata, known as the Cape Heath, does not have a well-documented toxicity profile for pets such as dogs and cats. It is not commonly listed among plants that are known to be toxic to household pets. Nonetheless, it is prudent for pet owners to prevent their pets from ingesting plants that are not intended for consumption, as individual animals might react differently, and gastrointestinal upset cannot be entirely ruled out without specific toxicological evidence.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      6 feet (1.83 meters)

    • Spread

      3 feet (0.91 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area

      South Africa


  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Supports Biodiversity: Erica verticillata, commonly known as the whorled heath, provides habitat and food to a variety of insects, birds, and small mammals, thus enhancing local biodiversity.
    • Ornamental Value: With its attractive foliage and tubular flowers, the whorled heath is used in gardening and landscaping for aesthetic purposes.
    • Ecosystem Restoration: Being a part of the natural flora of South Africa, it can be used in ecological restoration projects to recover its original habitat and conserve species.
    • Soil Erosion Control: The root systems of Erica verticillata help in stabilizing soil and controlling erosion, particularly in fire-prone landscapes.
    • Nectar Source: The flowers produce abundant nectar, making the plant a valuable food source for pollinators like bees and butterflies.
    • Education and Research: As an endangered species, it provides opportunities for research and education in conservation practices and biodiversity.
    • Cultural Significance: Erica verticillata holds cultural importance in its native habitat and is used in traditional practices and ceremonies.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Erica verticillata, also known as the Cape Heath, can be used as a natural dye for fabrics, providing shades from tan to light brown depending on the mordant used.
    • Cape Heath stems can be woven into intricate patterns and used in basketry or as decorative elements in craft projects.
    • The dried flowers of the Cape Heath can be incorporated into potpourri mixes for a gentle fragrance and attractive appearance.
    • The plant can be used as a food source for bees, aiding in honey production.
    • Cape Heath can be used in native landscaping to provide habitat and food for local wildlife.
    • The plant's natural resilience to drought can be utilized in erosion control projects.
    • Erica verticillata branches can be used as natural fencing or barriers in gardens.
    • Floral arrangements often include Cape Heath for its delicate blooms and lengthy vase life.
    • During traditional ceremonies, some cultures have used Cape Heath blossoms as symbols of purity and beauty.
    • It can be used in educational settings to teach about conservation efforts, as Erica verticillata was once considered extinct in the wild.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Cape heath is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Cape heath is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Rare Beauty: Erica verticillata, also known as the Cape Heath, is considered rare and has been reintroduced after being thought extinct in the wild. Its beauty thus symbolizes the preciousness and uniqueness of rare entities.
    • Resilience: This plant's capacity to bounce back after conservation efforts reflects resilience, symbolizing the ability to recover from adverse conditions.
    • Adaptation: Cape Heath's successful adaptation to various habitats signifies the ability to thrive in different environments and adjust to changes.
    • Restoration: As Erica verticillata is part of restoration efforts in its native habitat, it represents the importance and possibility of restoring something to its former glory.
    • Conservation Awareness: The story of this plant raises awareness about the importance of conservation and the role humans play in protecting endangered species.

Every 1-2 weeks
500 - 2500 Lux
Every 2-3 years
As needed
  • water dropWater

    Cape Heath, or Erica verticillata, requires even moisture, preferring not to dry out completely between waterings. Water the plant thoroughly, ensuring the root ball is moistened, which typically means applying about 1 to 1.5 gallons for an in-ground plant every week during the growing season, but this can vary depending on climate and soil conditions. Reduce watering in the winter months when the plant is not actively growing. Always adjust the amount of water depending on rainfall, temperature, and soil drainage, aiming to keep the soil consistently moist without becoming waterlogged.

  • sunLight

    Cape Heath thrives in full sun to partial shade, with a preference for bright, indirect sunlight. The best spot would be one where the plant receives morning sunlight and is protected from the intense afternoon sun, which can scorch the leaves. It adapts well to various light conditions, but flowering is most prolific when the plant receives adequate light.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Cape Heath does best in a cool to moderate temperature range, ideally between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It can withstand minimum temperatures down to about 30 degrees Fahrenheit, but prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures can be harmful. The plant prefers cooler night temperatures, which can help in promoting better bloom sets.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune Cape Heath to maintain its shape and encourage bushy growth, typically after the blooming period has ended. It's best to prune lightly, cutting back the flowered stems and any overgrown or dead branches. Prune annually, but avoid cutting too far back into old wood as the plant may not regenerate from old growth.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Cape Heath (Erica verticillata) thrives best in acid, well-drained soil with a pH of 5.0 to 6.0. A good mix would be equal parts peat moss, sand, and loamy ericaceous compost, which ensures proper drainage and maintains acidity.

  • plantRepotting

    Cape Heath should be repotted every two to three years or when the plant outgrows its current pot, to replenish nutrients and prevent root crowding.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Cape Heath prefers moderate to high humidity levels, around 50-60%, to thrive.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place Cape Heath in bright, indirect light and maintain soil acidity.

    • Outdoor

      Plant Cape Heath in partial shade with acidic, well-drained soil.

    • Hardiness zone

      9-11 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Erica verticillata, commonly known as the Whorled Heath, begins its life cycle with seed germination, which requires a well-drained, acidic soil medium, generally after fire triggers the process. The seedlings establish themselves and enter a period of vegetative growth, developing needle-like leaves and woody stems over several months to years. As a perennial shrub, it matures and starts flowering, usually during summer, producing clusters of pink to purplish flowers that are arranged in whorls around the stem. Pollination is principally carried out by insects, particularly bees, which are attracted to the flowers’ nectar. Following pollination, the plant produces small capsules containing numerous tiny seeds, which are released when the capsules dry and split open. The plant's life cycle is completed when these seeds are dispersed, often by wind, and reach a suitable habitat where they can germinate and grow, repeating the cycle.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time


    • The most favored method of propagation for the Cape Heath (Erica verticillata) is through cuttings. This process typically begins at the end of summer or in early autumn, when growth is semi-hardened. To propagate, one should select a healthy, non-flowering shoot and cut a length of 2-4 inches (5-10 centimeters). The cut end is then dipped into a rooting hormone to encourage root development. The cutting should be planted in a well-draining soil mix, covered with a plastic bag to retain humidity and kept in a warm spot with indirect light. Roots usually develop within a few weeks, after which the plastic can be removed and the young plant can be gradually acclimatized to less humid conditions before transplanting.