Kalanchoe uniflora (Coral Bells) is an attractive epiphytic succulent with stems that are prostrate or climbing stems and rooting at the nodes. Leaves…
4-9. Heuchera plants are U.S natives that can tolerate a wide range of our natural habitats: woodlands, prairies, mountain peaks, and arid climates.
Neat mounds range in height from 6 to 18 inches flower stalks grow to 2 feet or taller.
Best in bright or dappled shade.
Today’s garden hybrids have leaves in just about every color imaginable, some with marbled patterns, dramatic veining, silvery overlays, and ruffled edges. Although grown mainly as a foliage plant, the tiny bell-shaped flowers have a charm of their own, swaying on tall, wispy stems above the foliage.
Dolce® ‘Appletini’ in bloom. Photo by: Proven Winners
Close cousins, and from the same plant family (Saxifragaceae), are foam flowers (Tiarella) and foamy bells (Heucherella). The latter is actually a marriage of Tiarella and Heuchera and has the same great foliage color but more pronounced bottlebrush-shaped flowers.
Most gardeners purchase their coral bells as plants in the fall. They should be planted in your garden 12 – 18 inches apart. Keep them well-watered the following year as they become established in their new home. After that, you will only need to water during any dry spells. As native plants, coral bells are adapted to growing in our climate.
Coral bells can be grown in full sun but do best in partial shade. The leaves can fade or become scorched if they are getting too much sun. It’s best to grow them either in the shade or in a spot that gets morning sun only.
Heuchera prefer rich, well-drained soil that is slightly acidic pH 6.0 – 7.0. Soil that drains well is critical. If the plants are in consistently wet soil, the crowns will rot, killing the plants.
Because they are native plants and already adapted to growing here in North America, you don’t need to fertilize them. You can add a side-dressing of compost in the spring. If you want to fertilize, use a slow release fertilizer in the spring.
Coral bells have very shallow roots so in colder growing zones, you will want to add a thick layer of mulch around your plants to prevent frost heaving. Frost heaving is what happens when the soil alternately freezes and thaws during the winter and perennial plants are thrust out of the ground. If you see this happening to your plants, gently step on the root ball to force it back into the ground and then add a thick layer of mulch.
Variegated leaves brighten a shady corner.
Heuchera Propagation by Leaf Cuttings
Heuchera from leaf cuttings.
Note: Some plants are patented. Please check to see that the variety of plant you are taking cuttings from is not covered by these patents. This information can be obtained from USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office)
If it is a newer heuchera introduction, it is probably patented. Some of these varieties will hit the patent websites in a matter of a few weeks or can take a couple of years.
1. Cuttings can be taken any time of year, however they do better in the Spring when it is cooler. This gives both the mother plant and the new baby plant time to recover and become established before Winter.
2. When removing the leaf cuttings from the mother plant, make sure you find the stem/petiole of the heuchera. It is critical to include this part in your cutting.
3. Remove leaf cuttings with a sharp knife, ensuring part of the stem is included in the cuttings.
4. Dip leaf cutting into a rooting hormone, tapping off any excess.
5. Plant leaf cuttings into a moistened mix of 50/50 perlite and peat moss. ‘Tent’ a clear plastic bag over the cutting, using wooden skewers to keep the plastic off the leaf cutting. Place pot and bag in a shaded area, ensuring cutting receives light, but not direct sunlight.
6. Check cuttings daily to make sure they do not dry out or mold and stay moist. In about 6-8 weeks, roots should start to form. A gentle tug on the cuttings will let you know when roots have started to form.
7. To ensure there are enough roots on the cuttings, wait several weeks after roots have started to form prior to starting process for hardening off cuttings. When completely hardened off, plant out in garden.
I had some discussions with Terra Nova Nurseries regarding this topic. They informed me that the new plants from this type of propagation will not grow very large as this type of propagation does not include any leaf buds. This makes these new smaller plants ideal for containers or to tuck into a small spot in your garden.
About coral bells
Most coralbells sport clouds of tiny, bell-shaped pink, coral, red, or white flowers in late spring or early summer. However, varieties grown primarily for their foliage may have insignificant blooms. Foliage colors include red, purple, silver, as well as green, and some varieties sport marbled or patterned leaves. Foliage height ranges from 6 to 18 inches flower spikes can reach 24 inches tall.
Special features of coral bells
Easy care/low maintenance
Remove dead foliage in early spring, then apply a thin layer of compost, followed by a 2-inch layer of mulch to retain moisture and control weeds. Water plants during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. Cut back flower stalks after blooms fade. Divide plants in early spring every three or four years or when the stems become woody or the plant falls open at the center. Lift plants, divide the rootball into clumps, and replant.
Choosing a site to grow coral bells
Select a site with full sun to light shade and well-drained soil. In areas with hot summers, light shade is preferred.
Plant in spring or fall, spacing plants 1 to 2 feet apart depending on the variety. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the plant's container. Carefully remove the plant from its pot and place it in the hole so the top of the rootball is level with the soil surface. Carefully fill in around the rootball and firm the soil gently. Water thoroughly.
There are many species of heuchera, including H. sanguinea, the desert native that was originally known as coral bells. Today, the name coral bells is widely used for many huecheras available as hybridized landscape plants. Many of these hybrids are crosses that may include H. sanguinea as well as H. americana and other species known for different appealing characteristics, from foliage color and shape to bloom color to overall size and cold or heat tolerance.
Fill up your borders and containers with these vibrant perennials.
'Plum Pudding' – Gorgeous, plum-colored foliage with dark purple veins. Plant in part shade for maximum color.
'Ginger Ale' – As the name suggests, this heuchera has ginger ale colored leaves with silvery tones. The heart-shaped foliage is scalloped on the edges.
'Snow Angel' – Big, bright green leaves bear streaks of lighter green. Snip stalks of the bright pink flowers to bring in for vases and arrangements.
'Creole Nights' – For a bold look in your garden, plant this heuchera, which boasts shiny black foliage.
'Blondie' – Caramel-colored leaves with creamy yellow flower spikes heavy bloomer that’s good for small containers.
'Sweet Tart' – Lime foliage topped by bicolored pink flowers held on dark stems another heavy bloomer for small containers.
'Palace Purple' – Excellent, durable plant features burgundy to dark purple foliage.
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Save time and effort by planting these hardy, easy-to-grow perennials that come back year after year.