How to Know If My Heather Shrub Is Still Alive

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Tip

If the heather still has healthy roots water it to see if it will return to health. If the heather has diseased roots, it is best to dig it up and start over with a new plant.

Heather growing on a coastal hill.

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.

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Step 1

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.

Step 2

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.

Step 3

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.

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Hollan Johnson

Hollan Johnson is a freelance writer and contributing editor for many online publications. She has been writing professionally since 2008 and her interests are travel, gardening, sewing and Mac computers. Prior to freelance writing, Johnson taught English in Japan. She has a Bachelor of Arts in linguistics from the University of Las Vegas, Nevada.