Dictionary of Flowers: Heuchera (Coral Bells)

Delicate and Beautiful Heuchera (Coral Bells). Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Lily Zhu and Flickr

Delicate and Beautiful Heuchera (Coral Bells). Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Lily Zhu and Flickr

  • Heuchera
  • Common name: coral bells, alumroot
  • Family: Saxifragaceae
  • Category: perennial in USDA zones 4 to 9
  • Height: 12" to 18"
  • Width: 12" to 14"
  • Sun/part shade/shade
  • Blooms: mid to late spring
  • Attracts: hummingbirds
  • Growth habit: clumping. Used as a filler in container combinations
  • Maintenance: easy
  • Soil: average to fertile, well drained. Water regularly if grown in containers.
  • Garden uses: containers, front of border, edging plant, woodland garden
  • Diseases: leaf spot, mold
  • Pests: Japanese beetles, weevils

Coral Bells are native perennials from the North American continent and Mexico.

Fifty or so species of this genus are cultivated as garden plants, mostly hybrid varieties. Heuchera forms basal clumps of foliage in a range of colors from chartreuse yellow to green to dark bronze or burgundy.

The clumps can be evergreen or herbaceous. Flowers are small, bell shaped and grow on slender stems above the clump of foliage.

Although they only bloom during spring, the foliage remains attractive all year long.

Heuchera can grow in sun to shade conditions. In warm climates it is best to provide afternoon shade. Full sun can scorch the foliage during the summer.

Coral bells prefers to grow in average to fertile, neutral soil that is well drained. Keep the soil evenly moist. Heuchera will bloom more abundantly if the soil is humus rich or if planted in good quality potting soil.

Fertilize heuchera two or three times a year with a slow release granular fertilizer. A high phosphorus fertilizer will improve blooming.

Remove spent flower stalks all the way down to the clump. Deadheading is not necessary. Mulch around the plant will help maintain the soil's moisture consistent and prevent heaving in cold climates.

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Propagation is possible from seed or division and they are readily available in nurseries in the spring. It is not easy to start coral bells from seed.

Start seed indoors about two months before the last frost date. Sprinkle seed on starting mix and do not cover, as it requires light to germinate. It can take two to eight weeks to germinate.

After all danger of frost has passed, or in fall, transplant heuchera to their permanent spot to the garden. 

Heuchera can be divided every three or four years or when the center of the clump dies. 

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr




Coral bells are deer resistant. They suffer diseases when grown in soil or containers that don't drain well. If affected by fungal diseases such as mold or leaf spot, improve drainage and treat with a fungicide. Weevils and Japanese beetles can bother heuchera. Remove them manually. 

Popular varieties:

  • Heuchera hybrid 'Dolce Key Lime Pie' - chartreuse yellow foliage, sixteen inches tall. Pink flowers. Part shade to shade
  • Heuchera hybrid 'Plum Pudding' - plum colored foliage, twelve inches tall. Pale pink flowers. Prefers shade
  • Heuchera hybrid 'Midnight Rose' - almost black foliage with pink dots. White flowers. Full sun to part shade
  • Heuchera hybrid 'Georgia Peach' - rosy red foliage with small white flowers. Part shade
  • Heuchera hybrid "Dolce Mocha Mint' - silver foliage with green veins. Red flowers. Sun to part sun
  • Heuchera hybrid "Amethyst Myst" - deep purple with silver veins. White flowers. Part sun

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

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