Coral Bells

2 Mar

Coral Bells (Heuchera esp. maxima), 6 inches to 3 feet., pink, red or white blossoms on long stems in spring, native, drought tolerant, deer resistant, easy.

For a low-growing plant with incredible foliage, it’s hard to beat heuchera. When you add pretty, delicate blooms and the fact that most heucheras are evergreen, what you end up with is a “must-have” plant.

There are nearly 300 known varieties of heuchera (a North American native), also called “coral bells” or “alum root.” In general, heucheras grow to about eighteen inches tall (not counting the flower spikes) and around eighteen inches wide. Their blooms grow on spikes of delicate “bells” in shades of red, pink, white, and purple, generally blooming for four to eight weeks in late spring through early summer. Recent varieties have made the blooms more prominent. But it’s the foliage that makes heuchera a winner. Purple, black, red, orange, brown, silver, chartreuse-you name it, you can most likely find a heuchera in that color.

Heuchera  is one of those California Native plants that probably deserves a spot in almost every garden.  Heuchera will survive in the oak understory with little or no help, though it looks a lot better with periodic summer watering.  This plant prefers an east exposure or mid day shade,  tolerates most soil types, if it doesn’t get too soggy.

There are many varieties of Coral Bells to choose from. Heuchera maxima will form a clump 18″ to two feet across.  The flower stalks can be as much as two feet tall.  Heuchera ‘firefly ‘ has proven to be one of the most floriferous varieties. Heuchera ‘canyon duet’ is spectacular in bloom with stalks of white flowers  coming out of pink buds.  The flower stalks are 6-8″ tall. ‘Amber waves’ emerges with ruffled amber-gold foliage that changes to burnt orange as the leaves age.  The light rose colored flowers create an attractive combination with the foliage. And there are many more… check your local nursery.

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