- Coral Bell’s real Botanic name is Heuchera and its real garden talent is adding both pretty flowers and colorful foliage to a partial shade garden. Heuchera’s native status is All American ranging over all of the United States, and is even native to the Rocky Mountains. They grow as attractive rosette tufts of small winsome rounded plants with lobed or divided leaves that have a tendency to stay evergreen through winter. In late-spring single stems open in a dainty array of tiny, ruby, coral, pink or white, bell-like flower clusters. The lovely little bells are inviting to hummingbirds and pollinators and Heuchera’s long, six-week blooming period provides rich nectar lasting over six weeks. With removal of the spent stems Coral Bells will continue blooming into summer.
- For years Coral Bells seemed blah and never became very popular, but starting in the nineties, three strains, H. sanguinea and H. Americana and H. micrantha were hybridized and the Heuchera foliage rage began.
Now Heuchera’s foliage has stronger evergreen tendencies and develops in a wide variety of diverse colors. Amber through peach, lime through yellow or orange, purple through red and all of these with silver or green veins trimming their leaves are standards. Most leaves contain an element of stunning mottling, streaks or variegation which really makes the flowers play second fiddle to the elegant foliage.
Grow Coral Bells in partial shade in moist, well-drained soil. The shallow roots and woody crowns have a tendency to heave out of the soil over winter and can be damaged but a quick division and replanting will usually rejuvenate the plant. They are a hardy zone-four perennial but the older varieties like ‘Palace Purple’, winner of the Perennial Plant of the Year Award seem more winter hardy in high Mountain gardens.
Coral Bells are valuable garden plants whether grown for their foliage or their flowers. Their size and foliage looks amazing when used as a front of the garden edge planting.