Heuchera ( Coral Bells)
A genus native to America, the Heucheras are a quickly growing family of beautiful perennials grown predominantly for their stunning foliage. New cultivars and hybrids are being introduced everyday and they are fast become one of the most popular plants for any garden area.
Plant Highlight; Heuchera, Coral Bells, Alumroot Botanical and Common Name: Heuchera is the botanical name and Heuchera is also sometimes called alumroot. Most frequently used, however, is the common name coral bells, derived from the nodding, bell-shaped flowers. Plant Category: Heuchera is an evergreen perennial. Hardiness Zones: Coral Bells are hardy zones 3 (or 4)-9. A few cultivars can handle the heat and humidity of zone 11 so see varieties and cultivars information below. Bloom Time & Color: Coral Bells produce the graceful flowers that give the plant its name in late spring. The clusters of bell-shaped blooms will last for several weeks. Coral bell flowers are lifted above the foliage clumps on flower spikes that grow about 2' tall. Foliage: The foliage is one of the best features of coral bells because the leaves are large heart-shaped or rounded leaves with striking colors and variegation patterns. Some leaves are also ruffled giving the foliage a rougher look that adds interest and contrast to other garden plants. Growth Habit: The foliage grows in 10-12" clumps and Heuchera has a rounded growth habit until the longer flower stalks appear in late spring and summer. Dimensions: Most coral bells grow between 1-3' tall and1-2' wide. As with many plants, heucheras have several smaller, more compact cultivars so see specific details below for more information. Preferred Conditions: Coral bells prefer part to half shade but in colder climates would like full sun with humis rich, evenly moist and well-drained soil. Some Heuchera cultivars will also tolerate a deeper shade. Maintenance: Provide coral bells with winter mulch and deadhead to encourage repeat blooming through the summer. Pruning back the coral bells foliage in early spring to make room for the new growth can help it stay in better form but is not absolutely necessary. Divide every 3-4 years as needed. Pests or Diseases: Heuchera plants don't have many pest or disease problems. The biggest concern with coral bells is the possibility of frost heaving where climates fluctuate, or leaf scorching, especially with colored foliage varieties, if planted in hot, full sun. Propagation Methods: Heuchera plants are not as easy to germinate from seed as some other perennials and won't self-sow readily in the garden. The best methods of propagation are division. Companion Plants: Plant coral bells with other shade loving flowering plants such as astilbes, phlox, iris, or bleeding-heart. Consider using Heuchera plants with other foliage superstars like ferns, hostas, or caladiums. Seasons of Interest: Heuchera plants have high interest in the garden all year; the foliage is evergreen for most gardeners and highly attractive. Heucheras also have interesting flowers that appear in late spring. Uses in the Garden: Heuchera plants are well suited for areas of the garden other plants may have difficulty growing in; eastern and western exposures for example because of their ability to take some sun but be in shade for hours of the day as well. They also do well planted under shrubs and small trees because the coral bells foliage enhances other plants around them. With so many new Heuchera cultivars exhibiting dark, nearly black foliage, many gothic type gardens use these in large numbers. Other Uses: Heuchera plants are attractive to hummingbirds and are also deer resistant. Coral bell flowers also work nicely in cut flower arrangements and last over a week in a vase of water. Varieties & Cultivars: Heuchera americana 'Green Spice': This Heuchera, sometimes called alumroot or alum root, has silvery leaves with dark green edges and veining throughout making it a fantastic companion plant for anything. It grows about 10"x18" with 2 foot flower stalks (flowers are white and nondescript) and the leaves turn a fabulous orange in autumn. For more info on purchasing this item click here. Heuchera sanguinea 'Snow Angel': This Heuchera, or alumroot, has less vivid, but still interesting foliage of a bright green with light green marbling and stippling running through the large, heart-shaped leaves. 'Snow Angel' also produces bright pink flowers that work nicely as cut flowers. For more info on purchasing this item click here. Heuchera villosa 'Caramel': A newer Heuchera, 'Caramel' takes sun or shade equally well and produces lovely orange-red leaves that contrast nicely with the foliage of darker coral bells. For more info on purchasing this item click here. Heuchera hybrid 'Mocha Mint': A vivid silver leaved Heuchera that also produces an abundance of pink flowers this is one coral bells plant that lives up to its name. A 2005 North Carolina State Best of Breed winner. For more info on purchasing this item click here. Heuchera hybrid 'Amber Waves': A more compact cultivar, this Heuchera is 8" tall and wide with 12" flower stalks. The flowers are light rose colored and the leaves are ruffled and golden apricot colors. For more info on purchasing this item click here. Heuchera hybrid 'Midnight Rose': One of my personal favorite coral bells, this cultivar is a new breakthrough that really caught my eye. 'Midnight Rose' has deep purple, almost black, leaves with hot pink specks and splotches throughout that grow lighter in summer heat. The light flowers are not significant and some choose to snip off flower stalks to encourage bushier foliage growth. Takes full sun in cooler climates. For more info on purchasing this item click here. Heuchera hybrid 'Silver Scrolls': A rounded leaf Heuchera with foliage that looks "like a stained glass mosaic"; silver lined with deep purple markings. White spring coral bell flowers. For more info on purchasing this item click here. Heuchera hybrid 'Black Beauty': The leaves on this coral bell are highly ruffled and very glossy creating a deep shimmering effect that catches the light in full sun to half shade. For more info on purchasing this item click here. Heuchera hybrid 'Beauty of Color': A stunning cultivar, 'Beauty of Color' really lives up to its name with green and purple leaves heavily silvered. This coral bell stays evergreen nicely and in colder areas the leaves become orange rimmed. For more info on purchasing this item click here. Heuchera hybrid 'Velvet Night': Large dark leaves make this a popular coral bell selection with deep blue-purple leaves that do well even in full shade. For more info on purchasing this item click here. Heuchera hybrid 'Peach Flambe': This Heuchera puts on a special show! In the spring, foliage is flaming red-orange but matures to a summer peach and then to a deeper plum color in the autumn. The coral bell is a 7" rounded clump of foliage until the white flower stalks appear nearly 16" tall. For more info on purchasing this item click here. Heuchera hybrid 'Lime Ricky': Bold bright golden and lime green leaves with snow white flowers make this Heuchera a real accent for any part shade area. For more info on purchasing this item click here. Heuchera hybrid 'Peach Melba': A more cold hardy Heuchera with leaves that are peach with red and black markings in them. This coral bells tolerates full sun to deep shade and has cream colored blooms. For more info on purchasing this item click here. Heuchera hybrid 'Ginger Ale': Scalloped-edged, heart-shaped leaves and unique new colors make 'Ginger Ale' a wonderful Heuchera. Truly the color of ginger ale, this coral bell has silvery accents on leaves that blend well with other plants in the garden. For more info on purchasing this item click here. Heuchera hybrid 'Crème de Menthe': Hardy in zones 5-11 this coral bell cultivar can handle the summer heat and humidity. The foliage is a dark green silver with striking veins. A real beauty. For more info on purchasing this item click here. Heuchera hybrid 'Sparkling Burgundy': The new spring growth on this Heuchera is bright magenta-burgundy that darkens with the first frost. Coral bell flower stalks are purple-red spikes with white flowers. A compact Heuchera. For more info on purchasing this item click here. Heuchera hybrid 'Obsidian': Smooth black leaves in a 12" mound are what make this coral bell so special as one of the darkest of all coral bells. Unlike some other dark-leaved heucheras, 'Obsidian' keeps the dark foliage color all season. For more info on purchasing this item click here. Heuchera hybrid 'Plum Pudding': Stunning plum foliage with darker purple veins this Heuchera prefers part shade for best color. This coral bell forms 8" clumps. For more info on purchasing this item click here. < This 'Plant Highlight' was written exclusively for Sooner Plant Farm by Angela England .To read more from this talented writer about other highlighted plants and interesting gardening stories click here. All copyrights reserved by Sooner Plant Farm. No reproduction of this article in whole or in part is allowed without the permission of Sooner Plant Farm.