Heather (Calluna vulgaris) is a small, evergreen shrub native to Europe, Asia and North America. The plant features white, pink or purple flowering stems, depending on variety, and flourishes in the acidic soil of moors and bogs and other areas many plants won't grow. Heather needs cool weather and partial sun to thrive. The plant also needs particularly well-drained soil, according to the University of California Integrated Pest Management Program. Heather that loses all its leaves and dries out completely, may be dead.
Touch the leaves and small flowers on your heather plant. If they are dry and break apart, the heather might be dead, although it might also just be going dormant in advance of winter.
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Break off a stem of the heather. If the stem is pliable and the inside of the stem is green or white and soft, the heather is alive. If the stem is brittle and easily breaks in half, the heather might be dead.
Dig a small hole near the heather's roots. Healthy roots are white. If the heather's roots are white the plant is still alive. If the heather's roots are brown, red or black the heather is dead or dying.