Heuchera is a plant of woodland edging so plant it in part shade or damp, sunny areas where it will not be stressed by lack of water. The plant seems to thrive on soils that are high in organic matter so compost and mulch are good bets to improve the growth of this plant. It is often grown for its foliage as much as the flowers.
Common Names: Alumroot, Coral Bells
Derivation: The plant was named for Johann Heinrich Heucher (1677-1747) a Professor of Medicine at Wittenberg.
The herbals are silent on this plant ever being used in medicinal terms but with a name like alum root – one would assume some form of use. I was unable to discover it.
Coral Bells is fairly easy as the individual flowers are coral colored in the species and shaped like small bells.
- Bloom time: late spring or early summer into mid summer
- Height: 12” to 24”
- Width: 24”
- Hardiness: Easily USDA 4
- Lifespan 5 years or more
- Sun needed: Does best in part sun
- Bloom color: White, pink, red (but mostly very small – grow for leaves)
- Planting space: 12” to 18” apart
- Soil preferred: Well-drained high in organic matter
- Propagation method: Seed, division
- Potential disease problems: normal perennial issues of leaf-spots, powdery mildew, botrytis
- Potential insect problems: Black vine weevil
- Use: woodland, shade, containers, cut flower (albeit not very showy) and even groundcover, semi-evergreen in cold areas, evergreen in warmer.
This is a plant of woodland edging so plant it in part shade or damp, sunny areas where it will not be stressed by lack of water. The plant seems to thrive on soils that are high in organic matter so compost and mulch are good bets to improve the growth of this plant. It is often grown for its foliage as much as the flowers and indeed, some varieties such as ‘Chocolate Ruffles’ will never make it to the flower judging table but make excellent garden plants because of their outstanding summer-long foliage color.
Some hybrid varieties I have grown
- ‘Strawberry Swirl’ much heavier flowering than most forms, pink flowers on silvery green foliage and slightly fragrant.
- ‘‘Bressingham Bronze’, an excellent and stable bronze leafed plant, white flowers – use it for the foliage and not the flowers.
- ‘‘Charles Bloom’ 20” tall soft pink flower sprays over an mounding evergreen foliage.
- ‘‘Chocolate Ruffles’ a dark, burgundy foliage makes this plant stand out in the garden. Lots of flowers but they are not as showy as the foliage by itself.
- ‘‘Champagne Bubbles’ white buds change to red flowers and it reblooms. Get this one.
- ‘Cherries Jubilee’ cherry red flowers held over a dark burgundy brown foliage make this a standout
- ‘‘Purple Sails’ this hybrid cross has amazing deep bugundy purple foliage with a “metallic” overlay.
- ‘‘Rosemary Bloom’ coral pink blooms with soft yellow throat – long season bloomer.
- ‘‘Harmonic Convergence’ good bronze and silvery foliage, fringed pink flowers
There has been a great many Heuchera introduced in the last few years, probably more than the market really needs. 🙂 When I worked for a large perennia nursery 2002-2005 we ran an experiment where one of the staff went into the nursery, picked a few leaves of every variety we grew (lots) brought them back to the boardroom. Laid all the leaves on white sheets of paper (for identical background values) and then all the plant experts in the company (and there were quite a few) tried to identify each one. Nobody could do it. And nobody could separate some of the red varieties, they were so similar. The next year, the number of varieties sold were reduced considerably – if the pros couldn’t tell the differences, we figured neither could consumer-gardeners.
Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’ is one of the older hybrids and the first dark colored leaf to hit the market. Still available today in the “less-expensive” sections.