Growing Coral Bells (Heuchera) in the garden.
Heuchera, also know as Coral Bells or Alum Root, are beautiful part-shade or shade perennial plants that offer amazing foliage colors, and flowers too! Heucheras are super low maintenance for both landscape beds and for container gardens. In recent years, heucheras have exploded both in popularity and in the number of varieties breeders have offered for sale. Today there are hundreds of cultivars available to brighten up your landscapes and porches.
When it comes to growing coral bells in Cache Valley, Utah, there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, the absolute ideal light conditions for Coral Bells would be somewhere where they get sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon. That's ideal, but in reality we are lucky to live as far north as we do because most Heuchera varieties can be grown in full shade, part shade, or full sun in our climate here in the Logan area (the light yellow and light green foliaged varieties are an exception, as they need afternoon shade to avoid burning the foliage). Heucheras grown in full shade will grow very slowly, but they will be just fine there. Coral Bells do not like heavy, wet, clay soils as this situation will tend to cause them to rot during our winters, so it is best to plant these in an area with good drainage, or to ammend your soil with lots of organic matter to improve your drainage. Heucheras range in size from 12" to 36" tall depending on the particular variety and most of them average about 18" wide. All of the varieties we carry are Zone 4 cold hardy. They are deer resistant!
The foliage of Coral Bells is the most outstanding feature and they are very verstile in the landscape. You can plant them in masses, use them as an edging in the front of your beds, plant them as a specimen/focal point, or you can plant them in containers (they're great in mixed containers, but also look fabulous in pots all by themselves. They mix exceptionally well with hostas, bleeding hearts, ornamental grasses, irises, impatiens and lots of others in the the landscape. In containers, pair them with begonias, impatiens, vinca vine, asparagus fern, or other annuals to create amazing displays. We've even used them in bigger hanging baskets. One thing often over looked with Coral Bells is the fact that hummingbirds will visit their bell-shaped flowers.
There are very few issues with growing Heuchera here in Cache Valley. I've already mentioned the fact that the yellow and light green varieties can get scorched if they recieve too much sun, so keep those ones shaded. As well, Coral Bells can often be pushed up out of the soil in the winter when soils are freezing and thawing (called Frost Heave) and this exposes the roots and crowns to extreme cold temperatures that could kill them. It is best to put down a light layer of mulch in the fall to help protect them.
Right now in the our Cache Valley Nursery, our Heucheras are already outside on the benches with no protection. They have been acclimated to our current weather patterns and this is a huge benefit to our wonderful customers, as they can take them home and plant them in the garden Today! You can shop our selection by click to our online store here.
Photos courtesy of Walters Gardens and Terra Nova.