Perry's Perennial Pages

Heuchera 'Petite Pearl Fairy'

    Perennial of the Month-- September 2004 

(hue' ker-ah) (pronunciation at link, turn up volume if too low)

Common name: Coral Bells, Alum root

Family: Saxifragaceae, Saxifrage

Height x width: 10-12" x 8-12"

Growth rate; habit: moderate, mounded, compact

Foliage: bronze, marbled silver; 1" across, scalloped edges

Flowers: pink, dense on stalks to 10-12", mid-summer, long bloom

Hardiness: USDA zones 3-8

Soil: moist, tolerates dry and gravelly, dislikes wet

Light: full sun north to part shade, part to full shade south

Pests and problems: none significant

Landscape habit, uses: shade or woodland gardens, fronts of beds and borders, containers; combines well with other coral bells, creeping yellow loosestrife, foamflower

Other interest: genus 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 one of many from Charles Oliver (The Primrose Path), one of the Petite series-- dwarf hybrids "using two small western montane species, H. hallii and H. pulchella, crossed with larger burgundy and silver leaved forms"; this one was chosen to feature here for its excellent compact habit (more than most), and many flower stalks

Other culture: plants may 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 (difficult under home conditions)

Sources: many specialty nurseries, locally and online, The Primrose Path

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