Growing Andromeda in Containers- Growing the Dwarf Shrub of Bog Rosemary

Andromeda polifolia
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In this article, we will discuss how to grow the slow-growing shrub of Andromeda in containers. Andromeda is a flowering shrub in the Ericaceae, the heath family and is found in all areas of the Northern Hemisphere.  There are either one species or two species depending on who you talk to, as some see Andromeda polifolia as the only species, whilst others see Andromeda glaucophylla as another.

Andromeda polifolia
Andromeda polifolia

To others, the latter is classified as Andromeda polifolia var. glaucophylla.  It is a species that is native to the British Isles, where it is often found growing in boggy, cold, peaty areas.

Andromeda is a small shrub only growing up to 60cm in height and has an open habit with slender stems which bear green strap-like leaves. The leaves are evergreen, alternately arranged, 1 to 5cm long and 2 to 8mm wide.

They are dark green above (purplish in winter) and white underneath with the leaf margins curled at the bottom. In late spring or early summer, the large bell-shaped flowers appear that hang in clusters from the tips of the branches. They are either white or pink unlike other members of the heather family, you are limited to the colours on offer, unlike the Callunas. The flowers are followed by fruits containing numerous small seeds.

Find out how to grow the beautiful shrub in this article.


To grow Andromedas successfully you will need to grow it in acidic compost. First, choose a container that is in well –proportioned with the plant in question. Make sure it has drainage holes to allow any excess water to escape. As it prefers to grow in boggy conditions, you will not need to add any gravel or grit or perlite to improve drainage. In other words, the container needs drainage holes but no other aid to allow the excess water to escape. Fill the container to within 5cm below the rim with ericaceous compost.  To the compost, you can add some granules of slow-release ericaceous fertilizer to give the plant an initial boost.

Andromeda polifolia 'Compacta'
Andromeda polifolia ‘Compacta’

Dig a hole at the centre of the container slightly bigger than the root ball it came in the original container. Place the plant in so that the top of the root ball is at the same level as the top of the compost. Backfill with the growing media making sure that no gaps remain. Firm the plant in and water it well with rainwater.


To grow your Andromeda, you need to grow it in full shade as it will not do well in full sun. The compost will need to be moist at all times, and you should water it with rainwater as soon as the compost feels dry to the touch.  Not a hungry plant but you can give an annual feed of ericaceous slow-release fertilizer once in spring to give a boost throughout the growing season. If the leaves are yellowing, you may need to give a feed with a handful of sulphate of iron to stop the leaves from yellowing further.


The good news is that it seems that no known pests or diseases are known to attack the shrub. As said it needs acidic compost to do well, otherwise, your plant will pale to its former glory. To avoid this grow in ericaceous compost and water using only rainwater.

Severe frosts below – 10 degrees Celsius can cause damage and kill it if the temperature falls below this.


Andromeda polifolia 'Blue Ice'
Andromeda polifolia ‘Blue Ice’

As said earlier Andromeda polifolia which has been described in detail in the introduction is the main species.  They are many varieties where the noted ones are ‘Compacta’ which only grows up to 30cm and has pink flowers and ‘Munchkin’ is a smaller prostrate mat-forming variety. Others include ‘Alba’ which bears white flowers and ‘Major’ which is the tallest variety that you can find.  Other possibilities include ‘Blue Ice’ which has an intensively blue colour and ‘Nana’ which only grows up to 45cm in height. They are all suitable to be grown in containers.

The alternative species you may be able to find is Andromeda glaucophylla. It is similar to A. polifolia but it is pink-flowered and has hairy leaves below.


In this article, we have discussed how to grow the compact and pretty shrub of Andromeda in containers. It is one plant if you want a compact shrub in your container display. They are easy to look after, easy to care for, pests and diseases- free and you have plenty of varieties to choose from. The flowers may not be as colourful as Calluna but the leaves make up for that.

If you have any questions or comments that you wish to make on growing Andromeda in containers, please do so in the comment box below.

Happy Andromeda growing.

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