Coralbells

Coralbells sport airy flower spikes on wiry stems above low-growing, often dramatic foliage. Varieties with variegated or dark purple leaves make stunning ground covers, and the delicate flower spikes won't obscure the plants behind them, making them a good choice for the front of the border. Another common name is alum root.

About This Plant

Most coralbells sport clouds of tiny, bell-shaped pink, coral, red, or white flowers in late spring or early summer. However, varieties grown primarily for their foliage may have insignificant blooms. Foliage colors include red, purple, silver, as well as green, and some varieties sport marbled or patterned leaves. Foliage height ranges from 6 to 18 inches; flower spikes can reach 24 inches tall.

Special Features

Easy care/low maintenance
Unusual foliage
Good for cut flowers
Attracts hummingbirds

Care

Remove dead foliage in early spring, then apply a thin layer of compost, followed by a 2-inch layer of mulch to retain moisture and control weeds. Water plants during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. Cut back flower stalks after blooms fade. Divide plants in early spring every three or four years or when the stems become woody or the plant falls open at the center. Lift plants, divide the rootball into clumps, and replant.

Site Selection

Select a site with full sun to light shade and well-drained soil. In areas with hot summers, light shade is preferred.

Planting Instructions

Plant in spring or fall, spacing plants 1 to 2 feet apart depending on the variety. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the plant's container. Carefully remove the plant from its pot and place it in the hole so the top of the rootball is level with the soil surface. Carefully fill in around the rootball and firm the soil gently. Water thoroughly.

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