Over the years I've accumulated quite a few heucheras for my garden. Heucheras or coral bells are becoming more and more popular as a wide array of unique cultivars continue to come on the market. You might even think that heucheras are relatively new to the horticultural world when in fact they've been tinkered with by horticulturalists since the late 1800's. Heucheras are native to North America and can be found naturally from the west coast to the east coast. Heucheras thrive in rock gardens and in dry shade where other plants might not be so happy. Heuchera breeders are working on developing more sun tolerant heucheras as well as heucheras with larger flowers. As a general note I'm fascinated with them. Foliage colors range from green to amber to brown to purple while the bell shaped flowers general stay between a mid range pink to white in color.
Today for my Friday Five post I'll share with you a few of my heucheras and tell you how they've performed in the growing conditions here in Tennessee. The pictures were all taken in a previous year as the drought and heat have really taken a toll on everything in my garden. Even drought tolerant heucheras are not immune to 110 degree heat! But the fact that they are drought tolerant will likely get them through the worst of it.
Here are 5 Heucheras that I've grown in my garden and how they have performed!
Heuchera - Dale's Strain
'Dale's Strain' has been a great performer in my garden. It's planted in nearly full shade underneath the foliage of a 'Shasta' Viburnum and a birch. 'Dale's Strain' has green foliage with frosted white on the leaves. This heuchera has been widely used in hybridization of other heucheras.
Heuchera 'Midnight Rose'
This beautiful heuchera has dark purple foliage that is almost black with spots of a lighter purple that resemble stars in the night sky. It's been located in my corner shade garden which houses a number of heucheras as well as hostas. The intense heat and sunlight have actually cause some mutations in the coloring which have given some leaves a mottled or marbled look with some cream tones. 'Midnight Rose' is a sport mutation from another heuchera called 'Obsidian'. It's a beautiful heuchera but needs shade to maintain its appearance.
Heuchera 'Silver Scrolls'
I fell for this heuchera the second I read about it. I found it locally, planted it, then it died by the end of the year! If I remember correctly it's death coincided with the floods of 2009. Heucheras aren't fans of too much water. 'Silver Scrolls' has silver colored leaves that would have made a nice contrast with my 'Midnight Rose' had it survived!
Heuchera 'Palace Purple'
'Palace Purple' is perhaps one of the easiest to find heucheras around. It's a good solid heuchera for any beginning heucherafile! It comes true from seed which is one reason why it is so easily found in garden centers. That shouldn't diminish its value though. 'Palace Purple' has purple foliage with a pinkish colored underside. It looks great when planted with light greens or chartreuse plants. 'Palace Purple' has performed great in several locations in my garden include some fairly sunny spots.
Heuchera 'Mystic Angel'
'Mystic Angel' is another really neat heuchera that has grown nicely in my garden. It's in full shade underneath a crape myrtle and hasn't has a single issue. It transplanted well last year and hopefully will again this fall since it needs to be a in a location where it can be seen. It was a victim of the "I want this plant now even though I have no clue where to plant it" syndrome.
More on Heucheras/Coral bells
Heucheras are a very good alternative to hostas if you live in a deer or rabbit populated area. They are extremely resistant to foraging. Nothing is completely deer proof and I have had the flowers nibbled on by the deer, but that sure beats the whole plant becoming a salad bar! For more information on Heucheras I recommend Heucheras and Heucherellas: Coral Bells and Foamy Bells from Dan Heims and Grahame Ware. Dan Heims is an expert on the hybridization of many types of plants with heucheras and founder of Terra Nova nursery a premier plant producer! Or you could look into Heuchera, Tiarella and Heucherella: A Gardener's Guide by Charles and Martha Oliver. Their Primrose Path nursery has produced quite a few well known heucheras that gardeners enjoy. (Both of those links take you to Amazon.com)
Since this is a Friday Five post I only included 5 heucheras but if you would like some other selections that are more sun tolerant try 'Southern Comfort', 'Amethyst Mist', or 'Kassandra'. I was given an 'Amethyst Mist' by a friend of mine who has it planted in her full afternoon sun front yard but I haven't tested that just yet. Southern Comfort does pretty good in the sun but has suffered in the heat and drought this year. 'Kassandra' is very similar in appearance to 'Southern Comfort' and seems to perform just as well!