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Monday, December 21, 2009

Coral Bells of December

To say I'm a fan of heucheras is an understatement. I like to think of myself as a collector of coral bells, as they are often called, even though my collection is still just a work in progress. I'm gradually adding different varieties to my garden but seem to be running out of room in the corner shade garden (corner shade garden in 2008).  Thankfully I'll be able to use some areas in the backyard near the greenhouse once it's complete to add more of one of my favorite foliage perennials. I've grown some heucheras from seed and others I've collected from nurseries but they all retain interesting foliage throughout winter and that is definitely welcome in December!

Why I like Heucheras:
  • Low maintenance
  • Many can handle dry shade
  • Can handle some sun and humidity
  • Deer and rabbit resistant
  • Usually pest free!
  • Year round color

So here are a few of my heucheras!

Heuchera ~ Unknown maybe 'Palace Purple':

If forgot exactly who this little heuchera is but I suspect it's just a 'Palace Purple' I divided in the spring. It's in the raised bed just off of my back deck. The purple shades fit with other 'Palace Purple' Heucheras we have.



Heuchera 'Palace Purple'

This one is definitely 'Palace Purple'. It's ratty appearance is due to an outbreak of bagworms that have infested the conifer above the corner shade garden. They tasted the heuchera and must have thought it was lacking in flavor otherwise there would be much more of it gone.




Heuchera 'Silver Scrolls'

I mentioned back in spring that this 'Silver Scrolls' Heuchera was one of my must have plants for 2009. I'm happy to say I found one at a nearby nursery. I love the frosty white variegation on the leaves.



Heuchera 'Dale's Strain'

This little heuchera is another fun one to watch. It's color changes to a more brown-bronze look in the fall but displays green and white variegated leaves throughout the growing season.



Heuchera 'Mystic Angel'

'Mystic Angel' was found at a nearby spring festival. It reminded me of 'Silver Scrolls' before I bought it. The white-silver colors stand out more in 'Silver Scrolls' but both plants are very attractive.



Heucherella 'Stoplight'


While not quite a heuchera this 'Stoplight' Heucherella fits in nicely with the heucheras. It's a hybrid of tiarella (foam flower) and a heuchera. The red vein variegation is it's most prominent feature.



Not featured in this post: Heuchera 'Mocha', Heuchera 'Melting Fire', Heuchera 'Fireworks'

How to propagate heucheras:
  • The best way to propagate heucheras in the home garden is to divide them in the spring. Just separate the newer/younger crowns and remove the parts that have died back to replenish the plant. Heucheras can also be divided in the fall but I generally do most divisions just when my plants begin actively growing.
  • I have managed to root a heuchera from a basal leaf cutting but you must have a piece of the root crown attached to stimulate leaf growth.
  • Heuchera 'Palace Purple' comes true from seed but you may get some interesting heucheras by collecting open pollinated seeds from other varieties. Then again you may not but it's fun to try! I store my seed in a cool and dry place so that I can begin starting heuchera seed indoors in January.
I found this book on Amazon that I think I will have to add to my bookself soon. It's written by Dan Hiems, a master cultivator of heucheras and heucherellas. He's responsible for many of the neat varieties of heucheras that we enjoy in our gardens!

12 comments :

  1. I like the green/silver combinations, Dave, and some of the purple ones too. I notice that you haven't included any of the yellow/red/peach types like Amber Waves, Ginger Ale, Peach Melba: have you had trouble getting those to overwinter too? I can only grow heucheras in the driest part of our garden; the heavy clay and freeze-thaw cycles in winter take them out, otherwise, but the green and purple varieties tend to be much hardier than the more amber/gold types, in my experience.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jodi,

    I love the amber colored heucheras. I just have never bought one if you can believe it. The caramel colored heucheras should do fine here in our winters since they are much milder than yours. I think a 'Tiramisu' is next on my list. If not for the garden then definitely for desert!

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  3. Dear Dave : )
    I just knew there was a reason I like you ! LOL
    I am a heuchera fan and have 5 of yours listed plus many more .. Pinot Gris had my attention for amazing individual leaf colours through changing weather this year .. Geisha's Fan, Gypsy Dancer, Lime Ricky .. I better not start listing mine here .. and I better find THAT book you want too : )
    I have tried very hard not to look at the new ones coming out but Autumn Leaves, Fire Chief, and Midas Touch (look at Terra Nova for them) all have me crazy for THEM ! LOL
    I think we should form a fan club for heuchera ? : )
    Merry Christmas !
    Joy

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  4. I love heucheras, but have had bunny issues with them. They live my palace purple alone, but all the other "designer" (ie expensive) varieties were just too tasty!

    Cameron

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love coral bells. I ordered many from Terra Nova Nursery via a co op or two. The new peach, flame and coral colors are to die for!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm a big fan too. Some do well in our heat. Others fade away. Last summer, I was particularly taken with 'Southern Comfort' and 'Midnight Rose' both Heims intros I think. They have that strain which makes them work better in the south. Merry Christmas Dave.~~Dee

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  7. Hi Dave,

    Great post! I love heucheras too. Too bad they are quite expensive! I have a small one I will divide and with patience I will have more plants.

    I got the seeds from Hometown Seeds! I can't wait to plant them! Thanks!

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  8. I like heucheras but dont like it when they are used enmass - there is (in my opinion) a bit of an obsession on heucheras in this country

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  9. Great post Dave. I like the Heucheras also but I have a bit of trouble getting them to live here. Will continue to try.
    Received seeds. Thank you.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS
    HAPPY NEW YEAR

    ReplyDelete
  10. Joy,

    I went looking and found a fan club for heucheras on Facebook! Maybe we need a blog version. ;) I think I may need to refrain from searching Terra Nova, although I will probably end up looking them up anyway!

    Cameron,

    I've not had any trouble with bunnies on the heucheras. This past year was great for the bunnies as the clover stayed year round which they loved. That may have kept them away form the heucheras. 'Silver Scrolls' and 'Mystic Angel' are the two really special hybrids I have and neither was touched but it could be they like the more amber colored ones.

    Michelle,

    They are beautiful plants!

    Dee,

    I think that Heuchera villosa is being used as a breeding stock for the humidity and heat tolerance. Merry Christmas to you too!

    Gisele,

    In the spring you could divide that one into 3, then in the next spring those three into 9, then...I'd better stop here I could keep going! I'm glad you got the seeds, I hope you enjoy them!

    PG,

    I have mine scattered in with hostas and am pretty pleased with the result. I think anything can be overdone and everything should be used in the right way. Of course there are many right ways! I think the reason why so many like them is the unique colors, they are easy to care for, and they can be very drought tolerant.

    Lola,

    Don't give up on the heucheras! The purple ones are more tolerant to humidity so try some of them. Merry Christmas!

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  11. I've always loved heucheras, but this past summer I went a little crazy with them. 'Mystic Angel' reminds me a little of 'Green Spice'. They are just great plants all year long here.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Beautiful collection! I only have two lime green ones; my two purple ones died, not sure why.
    You can't beat the color and texture in December!

    ReplyDelete

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