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Plant Spotlight: Coral Bells (Heuchera)

Updated on April 28, 2017
LisaRoppolo profile image

Lisa is a writer & gardener with an extensive knowledge of plants and plant care. Her articles focus on easy care tips for home gardeners.

Heuchera "Obsidian"
Heuchera "Obsidian" | Source

Helpful Tips for Success

  • Mulch around the crown well in winter. This will prevent winter heaving.
  • You may need to dig and replant the crown higher after the plant has leafed out in the spring to avoid too much moisture affecting the plant.

A No-Fuss Perennial

Heuchera, commonly referred to as Coral Bells and sometimes Alumroot, are a perennial mostly grown for their folliage instead of flowers. These easy care perennials come in a wide range of colors. All have scalloped -shaped leaves. Most of the Heuchera sold in garden centers for the home garden are hybrids of the H. americana cultivar.

Heuchera Growing Specifications

Zones: 4 through 9

Grows Best In: Full to Part Shade. Some newer varieties can take full sun, but check plant tag to make sure.

Size: Up to 2 feet tall and wide

Bloom Time: Late Spring

Bloom Color: White or Pink

Foliage Time: April through November

Soil: Dry to Moderate. Does not tolerate extremely wet soils.

Heuchera "Caramel" blooming with delicate pink flowers.
Heuchera "Caramel" blooming with delicate pink flowers. | Source

Did You Know?

Heuchera are so named for the man who discovered them, Johann Heinrich von Heucher (1677-1746) who was an 18th century German Physician.

Heuchera "Caramel" sparkling in the morning sun
Heuchera "Caramel" sparkling in the morning sun | Source

Popular Colors

Because of excessive hybridization, Heuchera can be found in a wide variety of colors and leaf textures. There are around 83 commercialized hybrids on the market today. Some of the most popular colors available are:

  • Lime Green
  • Caramel
  • Burgundy
  • Fire Red
  • Purple
  • Grass Green
  • Green and White Variegated

Landscape Uses

Since Heuchera are best grown in partial to full-shade, these are popular filler plants grown under trees and in combination with Hosta. Growing under trees in particular can be difficult for many plants because it is usually dry shade, but Heuchera perform well in those conditions and even thrive.

Even though they are grown for their foliage, they do send up delicate little flowers in late spring that add to their cottage charm. Because they grow relatively short, they are perfect for placing at the front of a planting bed or along a pathway where visitors can admire their interesting colors and textures.

All About Heucheras by P. Allen Smith

Source

Did You Know?

There are 12 cultivars that were awarded the Royal Horticultural Societies Award of Merit?

  • 'Blackbird'
  • 'Burgundy Frost'
  • 'Can-Can'
  • 'Chocolate Veil'
  • 'Fireworks'
  • 'Magic Wand'
  • 'Molly Bush
  • 'Purple Petticoats'
  • 'Quilter's Joy'
  • 'Raspberry Regal'
  • 'Sashay'
  • 'Smokey Rose'

Can You Divide Heuchera?

In short, yes you can! If your well-established Heuchera is getting too big or you simply want to create more plants, the best time to do so would be in the spring after they have fully leafed out. That way, they have all summer and fall to get their roots established before winter comes. Don't be discouraged after a full season goes by and your divisions are still looking small. In the perennial world, it typically takes 3 seasons for plants to put out their full and mature growth, so keep that in mind.

Great Heuchera plant Companions

Some of these shade-loving plants, when combined with Heuchera can give your planting bed a nice variety of color, height and texture:

  • Hosta
  • Lady's Mantle
  • Ferns
  • Astilbe
  • Columbine
  • Brunnera
  • Lamium
  • Lobelia
  • Bleeding Heart

As you can see, the humble Heuchera is a great perennial to use in your garden with other plants or use alone combining many different shades of Heuchera for a dramatic effect!

Evening Sun bouncing off the glossy leaves of this Heuchera in my front planting bed
Evening Sun bouncing off the glossy leaves of this Heuchera in my front planting bed | Source

Thanks for Stopping By!

Don't forget to visit some of my other 'Plant Spotlight' hubs. Happy Gardening!

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    • LisaRoppolo profile image
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      Lisa Roppolo 2 years ago from Joliet, IL

      Thanks, I appreciate it! They are really truly carefree plants.

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 2 years ago from Essex, UK

      I have 13 Heucheras growing in a reasonably dry and shady part of the garden here in S.E England where the temperature often drops below freezing (but not much below) in winter, and reaches about 25C in summer. Under these conditions the plants seem to flourish without much attention (much better than Hostas of which I've lost several) All of my plants are different colour variations, and I can vouch for the fact that they make for a great colourful groundcover.

      Useful and good introduction to these valuable plants Lisa, and nice to see your own photos to accompany it.

    • LisaRoppolo profile image
      Author

      Lisa Roppolo 2 years ago from Joliet, IL

      Neat, it has it's own song! Thanks for stopping by!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 2 years ago from Oakley, CA

      What a trip down memory lane! My mother had coral bells in the yard when I was a child. I loved them. Hers were all the deep pink/coral ones, which I suspect was the original color, hence their name.

      I tried growing some here, but I don't think they like the hot summers we get, as they didn't do too well.

      But, when my kids were in Girl Scouts, there was a song about this flower that we all learned; it was a round. You can listen to it here:

      https://youtu.be/NVgzWxuDCww

      Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • LisaRoppolo profile image
      Author

      Lisa Roppolo 2 years ago from Joliet, IL

      Thanks!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

      I've only recently fallen in love with heuchera. Though I had enjoyed seeing coral bells flowers in the past I did not pay much attention to the foliage. Now that I know about the wide varieties in the foliage I am a devotee to this beautiful plant. Thanks for more info.