Photo: Satrina0 (flickr)
Coral Bells belong to the genus Heuchera (pronounced ”whoo kah rah” ) and prefer rich well-drained soil in partial shade.
The genus was named after Johann Heinrich von Heucher, a German Professor of Medicine as well as a Botanist, who died in 1747.
Grandma’s Garden Favorite
The common name, Coral Bells, is a descriptive one and the tiny bell shaped flowers occur on panicles.
They look airy and graceful held high above the mounds of lobed leaves. Nowadays the varied foliage colors that have been developed have caused the plant, also known as alum root, to be very popular for its foliage as well as its flowers.
These perennials were a staple in our grandmothers’ gardens, and there are over 50 species that are native to North America. Most of the natives are rather homely plants compared to those that have been recently produced by the hybridizers.
Heuchera villosa is an American species which is a native from Virginia to Georgia. It is among the tallest species and the last to bloom in the summer. It has rounded, lobed and veined leaves similar to maples, and it is tolerant of heat and sun.
A newer variety ‘Tiramisu’ has yellow leaves that turn chartreuse, and its flowers are white tinged with pink.
The colors, veining, leaf curls and names of some of the new cultivars are incredible. Using the new introductions, gardeners can now make dramatic colorful drifts of these plants in beds or can use specimens as focal points among less colorful companion plants.
Try “Crimson Curls’ ‘Frosted Violet’ Lime Ricky’ ‘Blackout’ ‘Peach Melba’ and ‘Cinnabar Silver’ to name just a few with delicious colored foliage and irresistible names.
Ready To Try?
Many of these plants can be obtained from your local nursery or from mail order catalogs.
Check out Wayside Gardens offerings at www.waysidegardens.com to see some examples.