Friday, June 21, 2013

Heuchera ~ Friday's Flower

The genus Heuchera includes 55 species, all of which are Native to North America.  It's common names include Alumroot, but is more widely referred to as Coral Bells due to the small bell-shaped flowers that grow on tall flower spikes in late spring and early summer.  The clusters of flowers on these evergreen perennials will last for several weeks. 
Coral Bells are also prized for their large, almost heart-shaped leaves, some ruffled, with striking color variegation.  The foliage grows in mounding 10-12" clumps and prefers part to half shade, along with evenly moist and well drained soil.  Above is one of my favorites, Snow Angel, with it's unique white and green mottled leaves and brilliant pink flowers.
There are many cultivars with clever names like Creme Brulee, Green Spice and Peach Melba.  Another favorite, this Lime Marmalade makes a stunning contrast to surrounding plants with it's chartreuse leaves and white flowers.
As far as propagation, they do not self sow in the garden but respond well to division in early spring.
Every few years, as my shrubs and perennials grow taller and create another semi-shady spot, I separate the larger Coral Bells and combine them into another grouping.  Last years transplants include Lime Marmalade, Caramel, and a glimpse of Sashay in the top left corner.
Sashay has deeply cut dark green leaves with a surprising burgundy contrast on the underside.  I think their ruffled leaves add a whimsical touch to the garden.
Here in the West, Heuchera's tend to heave themselves out of the ground slightly during the winter.  So every spring, I trim the undergrowth for a more shapely appearance and add fresh soil around the base of the plant. 

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