University of Vermont Extension System
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Perennial of the Month - October 1998

x Heucherella alba 'Bridget Bloom'

(hue-ker-el' lah al' bah)

Common name: Foamy Bells

Family: Saxifragaceae, Saxifrage

Height x width:12-18" high x 12" wide

Growth rate: slow to moderate

Foliage: basal and evergreen usually, reniform to ovate or orbicular, 1"-3" wide; lobed, wavy, dentate or ruffled margins; often pubescent on hairy petioles, green to dark purple, sometimes partly to mostly veined silver

Flowers: ¼-½" long bell-shaped with fringed margins, in cymose panicles on stems 10-20" tall; shell pink for 6-8 weeks; early to mid summer

Hardiness: zones 3-7

Soil: well-drained, organic

Light: part shade, tolerates sun in north if sufficient moisture

Pests and problems: leaf spots, powdery mildew, leaf and stem smut, stem rot, strawberry root weevil, mealybug, foliar nematode

Landscape habit, uses: woodland and shade gardens or borders, cut flowers, bees and hummingbirds (especially red-flowered cultivars); mounded habit

Other interest: intergeneric hybrids of Heuchera and Tiarella; Heuchera native to the Rocky Mountains (sanguinea) or eastern U.S. (americana); named for an 18th century German botanist J.H. von Heucher; similar to Tiarella only with 5 stamens in flowers rather than 10 for the latter, and showy parts usually sepals not petals as in latter; this cultivar introduced by Alan Bloom of Bressingham Gardens, Norfolk, England and named for his daughter; he bred this species in the 1950's with this genus first bred in France in 1912

Other culture: plants easily frost heave as they are shallow-rooted, to avoid plant crowns 1" below soil surface and mulch; remove spend flower stalks for prolonged bloom and aesthetics; avoid heavy clay soils or soils with very acidic pH; many cultivars perform better in the north than the south, being intolerant of excessive heat and humidity

Propagation: division when plant center becomes woody (every 3 years or so), leaf cuttings in late fall of leaves and short petiole segment in sand; tissue culture (mainly of new varieties)

Sources: many; as always, check with your local garden center or perennial nursery


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