Coral Bells, Alum Root
Compact evergreen clumps of roundish leaves with lobed or scalloped edges. A vast array are grown for their colorful foliage. Slender, wiry, 1- to 3-ft. stems bear loose clusters of nodding, bell-shaped flowers, typically 1/8 in. across or smaller. Dainty blossoms consist of colorful fused sepals and often lack petals; they are long lasting in cut arrangements. Color range includes shades of red to pink (attractive to hummingbirds) and less showy white or green. Bloom time varies by type from early spring to late summer; some kinds continue into fall.
Use in rock gardens or as ground cover, mass in borders or in front of shrubs, or use as edging for beds of taller perennials. They make good container plants, especially when combined with other perennials and even small shrubs.
Grow in well-drained, humus-rich soil. Will take full sun in cool climates, but in warmer regions they do best with afternoon shade or a northern exposure with open sky above. Divide clumps every 3 or 4 years in spring (or in fall in mild-winter climates). Use young, vigorous rooted divisions, or cut old woody stems to within an inch of the ground and let them regrow. Easy to propagate from cuttings started in sand in spring or from seed sown in spring. Strawberry root weevils chew on foliage, but these can be shaken off lifted plants. Mealybugs can damage base of plants; treat with insecticidal soap.
Most of these have as a parent Heuchera americana, a species from the central U.S. that forms a mound 8 in. to 2 ft. high and wide, with leaves 1 1/2 to 4 1/2 in. across, marbled and veined. These varieties have been selected for their marvelously colored and sometimes ruffled foliage. Tiny summer flowers are held on thin stalks to 3 ft. high and are white to cream unless otherwise noted.Heuchera maxima
Native to the Channel Islands off coast of Southern California. Foliage clumps grow 1–2 ft. high, spreading 3–4 ft. or more in time. Lobed dark green leaves have a roundish heart shape. Hundreds of small whitish orpinkish blossoms appear oneach narrowly branched 1 1/2–2 1/2-ft. stem in early spring.Good casual groundcover.Heuchera micrantha
Native to California,Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Plant in protected spot in coldest part of range; in desert, give full shade but good light. Long-stalked, roundish, gray-green leaves to 3 in. wide form attractive mounds. Late spring to early summer flowers are whitish or greenish, about 1?8 in. long, carried in loose clusters on leafy, 2–3-ft. stems. ‘MarthaRoderick’ has bright greenleaves and profuse rose-pinkflowers. ‘Painted Lady’ haspurple leaves marked with silvery gray. ‘Palace Purple’ has maplelike, rich brownish or purplish leaves that retain their color all year if given adequate sunlight. Leaves of ‘Ruffles’ are deeply lobed and ruffled around the edges.Heuchera Rancho Santa Ana hybrids
These hybrids between H. sanguineaand H. maxima are vigorous and free flowering. Foliage clumpsgrow 1–2 ft. high and 2–4 ft.wide, with leaves up to 4 in.across. Stems 2–3 ft. highcarry a profusion of small flowers. Long bloom season, from late spring through summer, nearly all year in mild-winter areas. ‘Genevieve’ has green leaves marbled with gray; deep pink, white-centered flowers. ‘Opal’ has medium green leaves and white flowers that open from pink buds. ‘Santa Ana Cardinal’ sports shiny darkgreen leaves and rose-pink flowers. Leaves of ‘Wendy’ are light green, pretty in combination with its medium pink flowers.
Native to New Mexico and Arizona. Round, 1- to 2-in. leaves with scalloped edges form neat foliage tufts. From spring into summer, slender, wiry, 1- to 2-ft. stems bear open clusters of nodding, bell-shaped, red, white, or pink flowers.'Bella Blanca'
This is a miniature, mat-forming, under-oak ground cover that grows 2 in. tall and freely bears white flower spikes on stems that rise 4 to 8 in. above foliage.'Caramel'
Leaves emergedusky red and mature throughapricot tones to golden yellow.'Chocolate Ruffles'
Leaves dark chocolate above, burgundy below; burgundy color also shows in ruffles on leaf edges. Purple blossom spikes and flowers.'Georgia Peach'
Leaves emerge peachy orange and age through red tones to rosy purple; dark veins and a silvery sheen.'Lime Rickey'
Chartreuseleaves with ruffled edges.'Mahogany'
Lightly ruffled leaves emerge purple and mature through mahogany tones to deep red.'Moonlight'
Leaves are blackish purple with a silvery overlay. Pale green flowers are larger than those of other hybrids listed here.
Native to California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho. Long-stalked, maple-like, brownish to purplish, 1- to 3-in.-wide leaves are toothed and lobed, hairy on both sides. Late spring to early summer flowers are whitish or greenish, about 1/8 in. long, carried in loose clusters on leafy, 2- to 3-ft. stems. Adapts easily to garden conditions. Plant in protected spot in coldest part of range; in desert, give full shade but good light.'Pewter Moon'
Silvery leaves with maroon undersides; pink blooms.'Tiramisu'
Chartreuse foliage is centrally blushed with redwhen young; with age, leavesturn mostly red, with a brightgolden edge.
Native to South Africa. Reedlike plant to 6 ft. tall and 4 ft.wide; looks something like a big, feathe...
Ardent collectors and shade garden enthusiasts sometimes attempt the many species offered by specialis...
Native to Africa. Grows 20 to 30 ft. high and wide. Produces offshoots, forming picturesque clumps wit...