Heuchera — How to Grow Coral Bells

Written by David S.

While the name is odd — Who-Ker-a — their common name is somewhat easier to pronounce — Coral Bells. What is clear is that these plants are easy to grow, come in gorgeous colors, and remain year after year. Inside this article, we discuss the Heuchera plants and how to grow them. 

What are Heuchera Plants? 

Heuchera is the genus name given to a large and colorful group of plants in the Saxifragaceae family. They grow a little over one foot in height and produce small flowers on tall stalks that rise above the beautiful, often vivid, foliage. 

Most Heuchera plants are hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 4-9 — meaning they can tolerate cold winters. Some do well in the hot and dry conditions of zone 11, and the most attractive feature of Heuchera plants is their foliage. They offer beautiful leaves that are lobed and erect on long petioles.

Growing Conditions for Heuchera

You can find these plants in a vast range of growing conditions, including the desert regions of Mexico, Arizona, and New Mexico. Some varieties even prefer shady growing locations overgrowing in full sun. There are many options and choices for Heuchera, so be sure to read the plant tag to choose varieties that grow best in your area. 

One of the main reasons that Heuchera are so popular is that they are evergreen. They keep that beautiful spread of foliage all year long. In colder climates, the color in the leaves fades to more of a green, but as it gets warmer, the vivid colors return to the leaves. 

Heuchera plants come in various colors, from simple greens and variegated mixes to vivid purples, reds, rusts, and yellowy-oranges. These are beautiful in single-color beds or when mixed in containers. The color of the leaves blends perfectly, giving a stunning effect. 

How to Grow Them

SOIL — Well-drained, rich in organic matter. 

SOIL pH — 6.0-7.0 — slightly acidic 

Water — regular watering every day for the first year. Once Heuchera plants are established, water 2-3 times per week. Mature plants require very little care. 

Light — Plant Heuchera plants in partial shade. They do lovely with full morning sun that fades to dappled shade in the noon-afternoon period. In full sun, especially in Southern California, the leaves can scorch. 

When to Plant — If you can water regularly, and you do not plant them in full sun, you can plant Heuchera year-round. The best time to plant them, though, is mid-spring in March and April or the early fall — September through October. 

Growing Multiple Cultivars 

The beautiful colors and rich textures of Heuchera plants invite growing many varieties. They do hybridize readily, and you may find over many years that they begin to look alike. That hybridization is not bad. Add new varieties overtime to regain the beautiful splash of color that Heuchera plants offer. 

Plant Care

Heuchera plants are alum root plants, which means you will have to divide the clumps as they mature. Generally, that is every third to fourth year. It also means you will continue to have Heuchera for a long while. 

Blooming — They bloom in early spring and into summer. Dead-head the spent flower to encourage more bloom production. Thanks to the long flower stalks, which rise above the beautiful foliage, it is easy to dead-head Heuchera. 

Mulching is an easy way to help keep moisture within the root zone. 

Pest Issues — Heuchera have very few pest issues, and they are even deer resistant. 

Repotting — Repot every third to fourth year as you divide Heuchera plant clumps. 

How to Use Heuchera in Landscaping

Heuchera plants are gorgeous anywhere you put them. They make lovely frontal plants in mixed beds and grow a little over a foot in height. They are dramatic in containers with plants that dangle. A mixture of coppery Heuchera and lobelia or trailing Jade succulents can be excellent. You can mix them with taller plants such as ornamental grass or geranium. The rich color of Heuchera foliage brings out many characteristics of other plants. 

Products that Help Heuchera Remain Beautiful

Soil is always the first place to start when planning a container or in-ground flower bed. Heuchera prefers richly nutrient soil that a lot of organic matter. FoxFarm, Black Gold, and EB Stone offer high-grade organic compost, any of which is an excellent place to start building soil for a bed or container. 

Add in a soil product that offers live soil cultures or biota. These beneficial organisms assist plants in thriving and repel pests that can damage newly planted flowers. 

Water absorbing aggregate is also a plus, especially the hot Southern California landscape. Perlite, coconut coir, and other products help hold water in the soil and allow the soil to drain. Root care is essential for most plants, and wet, soggy soil promotes root rot. Established plants will thank you by producing gorgeous foliage and flowers if their roots can tap into soil moisture during the hotter parts of the day. Keeping plants well-watered means, they focus their energy on growing rather than just surviving. It takes a lot of energy for the plant to rebound from wilting. FoxFarm offers a soil amendment that is 70 percent perlite and 30 percent coconut coir. Add this to the bottom of pots. If planting in the ground, dig the plant hole a little deeper and add a few inches of FoxFarm’s Cultivation Nation to the bottom. 

There is no doubt that Heuchera plants are fantastic for landscapes. They work well in containers or in-ground and as the stars of mixed beds or as a single plant along walkways. Their rich colors are inviting and cheerful, and the textures and blooms are lovely. Unlike many plants, once the flowers end, the beauty of Heuchera plants only gets better. 

Please stop by one of our five Southern California Locations and shop the vast array of Heuchera plants. Our garden experts are available to answer your questions. If you are looking for specific varieties of Heuchera, give us a call. We can check our inventory or potentially order these for you. 

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