Description and General Information:
Cassiope mertensiana is native to sub-alpine to alpine tundra of western North America, from Alaska south to California. It forms a low sub-shrub with dark green, evergreen, scaly leaves arranged in four rows along the stems. Plants reach about 10-20 cm tall but can form mats 30 cm or more across. Flowers are solitary from the upper leaf axils. They are 6-8 mm long, nodding and bell-shaped with white corolla and reddish calyx. In the wild, it generally flowers June through July.
This species requires acidic, organic-rich soil that is free draining so the addition of grit is suggested. The growing site should be cool but in full sun if possible. Hardy in zones 5-7 but dislikes hot, humid weather and performs best with even snow-cover. Placing an evergreen bough over the plants in late autumn can help them better cope with irregular snow-cover.
June to July in the wild but as early as May in southern growing regions.
Primarily by cuttings. Tip cuttings are taken in late summer to early fall, rooted in a shaded frame or under mist. Seeds may be directly sown on a peat-sand mix but germination may be prolonged and the growth of seedlings is quite slow.