Heuchera: Jewels in the garden

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Posted by @goldfinch4 on
Heuchera (pronounced Hew-ker-ah), also commonly called Coral Bells or alum root, are known and planted mostly for their bright, colorful leaves that bring jewel tones to the garden.


Heuchera range in color from dark purple (almost black) to brown, red, pink, green, bronze, orange and gold.  The foliage colors can change throughout the seasons and are also influenced by soil type, weather and the amount of sun or shade they receive.

The leaves differ not only in color but in shape and texture as well.  Leaves can be round, triangular, heart shaped, ruffled, wavy, smooth, hairy, large or small.  They can be a solid color, mottled, bordered, veined or have a silver overlay.  There are hybrids that will grow in full sun, and some in full shade. 


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Most are cold hardy to zone 4 and heat tolerant to zone 9, but some can tolerate zone 3 or zone 10.  Each variety has its own unique growing needs so be sure to read their information carefully. 




Small bell shaped flowers appear on stalks generally in late spring or summer and are shades of white, pink, red or green. 




Some cultivars will bloom throughout the summer.  Hummingbirds and butterflies are attracted to the dainty flowers.  Plants will benefit from deadheading by cutting the flower stalk off at the base. 

Although the flowers can be used as cut flowers, it's the foliage that lasts a surprisingly long time in floral arrangements and provides lively contrasting hues.  Just be sure to cut the leaves with stems as long as possible. 

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Another nice trait is that heucheras are considered deer resistant (not deer proof) as deer will gladly pass them by to look for tastier food.

A partially shaded area with mild morning sun is the ideal growing location.  The darker colors are able to take some sun but will need to be provided with more water.  Light colored leaves are more susceptible to sunburn and should be protected from the harsh midday sun.

Heuchera grow best in well draining soil that contains lots of organic matter.  They like moist soil, but not consistently damp or wet.  Once established some can even be quite drought tolerant.  Divide them every 3-4 years to keep them from drying out in the center.  In cold winter areas the crowns can heave out of the soil and may need to be replanted in the spring.  1-3" of organic mulch can help prevent this and will keep weeds down and moisture in.  They'll also benefit from a liquid fertilizer feeding several times during the growing season.

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These are great plants for borders and path edges as they are relatively low growers.  They perform well in pots, woodland gardens, rock gardens and shade gardens.  Some companion plants include other heucheras, hosta, ferns, astilbe, helleborus, ornamental grasses, coreopsis and phlox.  Try some of these versatile plants in your gardens or containers for some added color and texture - there is sure to be one to suit everyone's needs.

(Check out the Heuchera Cubit database to see some of the cultivars growing in our members' gardens.)


Special thanks to medinac (Cheryl) for the use of her beautiful Key Lime Pie Heuchera picture - the lower left picture in the group of four.



Comments and Discussion
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Great Article by LuvNature Oct 20, 2013 10:59 AM 3
Hardiness by plantaddict487 Jan 22, 2011 12:11 PM 1
They are just what I need! by nap Jun 18, 2010 6:01 AM 31
Me, too! by imapigeon Jun 14, 2010 3:46 AM 1

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