Plant Profile: Heuchera (Coral Bells)

Whether you pronounce it hoy-ker-uh or hue-krah or hew-ker-a, this terrific perennial species, with the common names of Coral Bells or Alumroot, has seen an explosion of new introductions in the last decade or so.
   Heuchera are native to North America and do well in woodland garden beds, rock gardens, containers, borders, and as ground covers.
   They are drought-tolerant and prefer soil to be a little more alkaline than acidic. If you have heavy clay soil, than it is necessary to add some lighter gardening soil when transplanting them into the ground.
    To get more plants, carefully dig and divide the clumps in early spring — make sure that each piece you re-plant has some good roots attached. 
   For those gardening where there are hot and humid summers, select those with Heuchera villosa in its lineage. H. villosais a species native to the southern Appalachian Mountains. Villosa means “hairy leaf” and those fine hairs not only make it heat-tolerant, but also deer-resistant.
    The hybrids that have been developed in recent years have an extensive array of colors, shapes, foliage types, and blossom sizes. Heucheras will bloom from early June until the end of summer, but the foliage is the most eye-catching aspect of these perennials. Most varieties do best in part-shade with some morning sun, but there are recent introductions that flourish from full-sun to full-shade.
   Heucheras have also been hybridized with another native shade perennial called Tiarella to produce the Heucherella, which has added even more fantastic colors and textures to this extraordinary line of perennials.
   Some of my favorite Heuchera cultivars include ‘Midnight Rose’, ‘Silver Gumdrop’, ‘Plum Cascade’, ‘Berry Smoothie’, and ‘Lime Rickey’.
   Try a Heuchera in your garden today – you can grow that!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Jessica Kranz.

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