Friday, August 11, 2017

Heuchera Brighten Up any Spot in the Garden



Gardeners looking for something colorful to brighten up their late summer garden often look to flowers, but flowers aren't the only way to go!

When it comes to adding an infusion of color, I always think back to this amazing garden. 

Who needs flowers when foliage is this beautiful? The rose and peach colored Heuchera completely transform this shady garden.

Part-shade–Private garden in Campbellville, ON

Here's a fact that may surprise you–Heuchera are actually a native plant and are found in various forms across the North American continent. 

Heuchera form neat, round mounds and have a woody centre or "crown". The bell-shaped flowers of this plant are often described as "insignificant". Certainly one purchases a Heuchera primarily for the foliage, but the tiny flowers are often quite attractive in their own right:


Light

Not all Heuchera prefer the same light conditions, so it's a good idea to read the recommendations on the plant tag before you set your heart on a particular cultivar. Some like full sun to part shade, while others prefer part-shade to full shade. All varieties benefit from some light afternoon shade– Heuchera foliage may actually scorch in the hot afternoon sun in more southern garden zones.

Soil

Heuchera prefer moist, well-drained soil enriched with some organic matter. If your soil is poor, it is a good idea to amend it with some organic matter before you plant.

Division

A Heuchera's crown loses some vigor over time, so it is a good idea to divide them every 3-4 years. This can be done in either the spring or the fall.


Pests & Problems

Though Heuchera prefer moist soil, they like good drainage. Too much water can cause crown or root rot and make overwintering a Heuchera more difficult.

Winter cycles of frost and thaw can heave the crown of a Heuchera up out of the ground. To prevent this from happening, mulch in the fall. If your Heuchera has already heaved up as a result of frost/thaw, simply lift and re-plating it.


The Cultivars


In recent years, Heuchera have been focus of frenzied hybridization and can now be found in an amazing array of colors, leaf shapes and textures. 

Here's a look at some of the many cultivars available with suggestions for companion planting:

Shades of Green



Heuchera 'Sweet Tart' is a part of a series of miniature hybrids under the brand 'Little Cutie'. It has bright, lime colored leaves and sprays of peachy-pink flowers. Part to full shade. Height: 10-15 cm (4-6 inches), Spread: 20-25 cm (8-10 inches). USDA zones: 4-9.

Part-shade– Private garden, Brampton, ON.


Heuchera 'Lime Marmalade' has lobed and ruffled leaves that are a mix of chartreuse and lime. The flowers are peach on tan-colored stems. Part to full shade. Height: 25-40 cm (10-16 inches), Spread: 40-45 cm (16-18 inches). USDA zones: 4-9.

Similar Cultivar: Heuchera 'Citronelle'

Heuchera 'Winter Joy' has ruffled, lime-green leaves that have a light touch of yellow. The flowers are white. Part to full shade. Height: 25-30 cm (10-18 inches), Spread: 40-45 cm (16-18 inches). USDA zones: 4-9.

Similar Cultivars: Heuchera 'Lime Rickey', Heuchera 'Lime Ruffles', Heuchera 'Pear Crisp'


Heuchera 'Delta Dawn' has rounded leaves with a lime edge and a russet centre. The sprays of flowers are white in color. This cultivar is reputed to be both strong and vigorous. Full sun, part-shade and full shade. Height: 20-25 cm (8-10 inches), Spread: 25-30 cm (10-12 inches). USDA zones: 4-9.

Similar Cultivar: Heuchera 'Miracle'


Heuchera 'Sashay' has dark green foliage with a rust colored underside. Part to full shade. Height: 20-25 cm (8-21 inches), Spread: 20-25 cm (8-21 inches). USDA zones: 4-9.

Heuchera sanguinea 'Frosty Morn' has lobed and ruffled leaves that are a mix of chartreuse and lime. The flowers are orangy-red on tan-colored stems. Part to full shade. Height: 25-40 cm (10-16 inches), Spread: 40-45 cm (16-18 inches). USDA zones: 4-9.

Similar Cultivar: Heuchera 'Arctic Mist', Heuchera 'Snow Angel', Heuchera 'Shamrock', Heuchera x villosa 'Carnival Limeade', Heuchera x villosa 'Carnival Cocomint', Heuchera 'Helen Dillon'

Full sun– Heuchera and a Dianthus in Chen's garden.



Heuchera 'Crimson Curls' has ruffled, bronze and brown leaves with a crimson underside. Creamy-white flowers appear in late spring/summer. Evergreen. Part to full shade. Height: 20-45 cm (8-18 inches), Spread: 45-60 cm (18-23 inches). USDA zones: 4-9.

Heuchera with Dark and Moody Tones



Huechera 'Cherry Cola' has reddish-brown leaves and cherry-red flowers in late spring/early summer. Full sun or part-shade. Height: 40-45 cm (16-18 in), Spread: 30-40 cm (12-16 in). USDA zones: 4-9.

Full sun–private garden Brampton, Ontario.


Heuchera 'Cajun Fire' is red in spring, black in summer and maroon in the fall. 'Cajun Fire' has white flowers on dark stems. Full sun, part-shade and full shade. Height: 25-30 cm (10-12 inches), Spread: 25-30 cm (10-12 inches). USDA zones: 4-9.

Heuchera 'Black Taffeta' has glossy, ruffled almost black foliage. The sprays of flowers are pink in color. Evergreen and reputed to have great vigor. Part to full shade. Height: 20-25 cm (8-10 inches), Spread: 30-35 cm (12-14 inches). USDA zones: 4-9.

Similar cultivars: Heuchera 'Chocolate Ruffles', Heuchera 'Plum Pudding', Heuchera 'Bressingham Bronze'

 Full shade–Private garden in Campbellville, ON


Heuchera 'Midnight Rose' has lobed leaves that are black in spring and lighten in the summer to have a splash of pink. The sprays of flowers are white. Full sun to part-shade. Height: 25-60 cm (10-23 inches), Spread: 40-50 cm (16-20 inches). USDA zones: 4-9.

Full sun– Mira's garden in Guelph, ON.

Part-shade– Chen's garden, Milton, ON.

Heuchera with a Hint of Autumn Color


Full sun to part-shade–Peach colored Heuchera in a private garden, Mississauga, ON.


Heuchera 'Champagne' has peach and gold leaves with a matt finish. The flowers are light-peach on maroon colored stems. Part to full shade. Height: 25-30 cm (10-12 inches), Spread: 30-35 cm (12-14 inches). USDA zones: 4-9.

Similar cultivars: Heuchera 'Peach Flambe', Heuchera 'Vienna'

Heuchera 'Marmalade' has foliage ranging in color from umber to deep sienna. The underside of the leaves are a blend of orange and magenta. The flowers are reddish-brown. Part-shade. Height: 25-40 cm (10-16 inches), Spread: 30-45 cm (12-18 inches). USDA zones: 4-9.

Similar cultivars: Heuchera 'Amber Waves', Heuchera 'Autumn Leaves', Heuchera 'Kassandra'

Full sun–Peach colored Heuchera in Joe's garden, Brampton, ON.

A little reminder that Heuchera work well in containers. Lift them from the container in the late fall and plant them in the garden.


Heuchera  Kira 'Jersey' emerges in spring with lobed silver leaves with dark rose veins. As the summer progresses, it becomes peachy-rose in color with a light silver overlay. 'Jersey' has dark red stems and flowers. Part-shade to full shade. Height: 25-30 cm (10-12 inches), Spread: 25-30 cm (10-12 inches). USDA zones: 4-9.

Similar cultivars: Heuchera 'Georgia Peach', Heuchera 'Carnival Watermelon', Heuchera 'Midas Touch', Heuchera 'Paprika'

Full sun–Peach colored Heuchera in Chen's garden, Milton, ON.


Heuchera 'Encore' emerges a deep purple overlaid with silver in spring and becomes peachy-rose overlaid with silver. The sprays of flowers are short and white. Full sun or part-shade. Height: 15-20 cm (6-8 inches), Spread: 25-30 cm (10-12 inches). USDA zones: 4-9.

Heuchera 'Zipper' is a smaller sized variety that has large, ruffled leaves that are burnt orange with an amber underside. Full sun, part-shade and full shade. Height: 30-45 cm (12-18 inches), Spread: 30-45 cm (12-18 inches). USDA zones: 4-9.

Similar Cultivars: Heuchera Little Cutie 'Ginger Snap' (smaller), Heuchera 'Southern Comfort', Heuchera 'Galaxy'

Heuchera with a Silver Finish



Heuchera 'Midnight Ruffles' has ruffled brown-black foliage that has a bit of a silver sheen. The maroon underside of the leaves contrast nicely. In spring, 'Midnight Ruffles' produces tan colored flowers. This hybrid was bred to be both vigorous and heat tolerant.  Full sun or part shade. Height: 30-35 cm (12-14 inches), Spread: 60-65 cm (23-25 inches). USDA zones: 4-9.

Part to full shade–Heuchera in the foreground– Private garden in the Toronto Beaches.


Heuchera 'Great Expectations' has silver and purple leaves with black veining. Cream flowers appear on dark stems in early summer. This is a villosa hybrid that was bred to tolerate heat and humidity (Heuchera villosa is native to southeastern U.S.) Part-shade to full shade. Height: 25-30 cm (10-12 inches), Spread: 30-35 cm (12-14 inches). USDA zones: 4-9.

Heuchera 'Glitter' has shiny, silver foliage with black veins and a grape colored underside. Sprays of fuchsia-pink flower appear throughout the summer months. Part-shade to full shade. Height: 20-25 cm (8-10 inches), Spread: 30-35 cm (12-14 inches). USDA zones: 4-9.

Part to full shade–Chen's garden, Milton, ON

You may have noticed that there aren't any pictures of Heuchera in my own garden in this post. 

That's because they can be very pricy plants (especially the newer cultivars)! As with hosta, I have started to invest in one or maybe two each year. In my mind, they're attractive foliage makes them well worth the expense.

Up shortly, I have a shade garden for you.

8 comments:

  1. I love Heucheras, especially for their different colours. I tried various cultivars but until now I'm not very successful. I think my garden is too wet and crowded with plants.

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    1. I just have a few so far, but I know what you mean about a crowded garden. Heuchera need a place to shine.

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  2. I've seen these, Jennifer, but never knew what they were.
    They really are a beautiful addition to these gardens, especially now that everything is slowly losing its colors.
    Have wonderful weekend!

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    1. Last summer I put a peach colored Heuchera into one of my shady garden beds and I was surprised what a difference it made. The bed had been mostly green and the addition of a warm color really lifted the whole thing.

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  3. Thank you so much Jennifer, for your wonderful blog! I love it.
    They ARE expensive at the garden centres. I've grown a few varieties from seed, and I'm a newbie gardener! Gardens North sold "Palace Purple"seeds and they were great this year. Berry Smoothie, Fire Alarm, and Lime Marmalade are some of my favourites...so far! They're easy to divide too. I'm a heuchera fan! Thanks for the beautiful garden shots. So very inspiring!

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    1. The other day I was lucky enough to buy a couple for $5 each– a great end of season deal. I am impressed that you grew some from seed. I haven't done that so far. I have divided a few, and you're right, they are an easy plant to divide.

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  4. So many varieties!!! I love Obsidian and Lime Rickey in my border. But I see some in your beautiful photos that I would love to try. Thanks for all the info.

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    1. Thanks Karen. I am inspired too by all the planting ideas I have seen in the gardens I have visited in the last couple of years.

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