Heuchera 

(hue' ker-ah)

Common name: Coral Bells, Alum Root, Crimson Bells

Family: Saxifragaceae, Saxifrage

Height x width:12-30" x 12-18"

Growth rate: 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, in cymose panicles on stems 10-20" tall; shades of red, white or pink from sepals; usually less showy than foliage; early to mid summer

Hardiness: zones 3-8

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)

Other interest: 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; some bigeneric hybrids under x Heucherella; much breeding among this genus especially recently.

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, seeds (500,000 seeds per ounce) sown in spring for following year flowering, tissue culture (mainly of new varieties)

Species:

americana (ah-mer-i-caa' nah)--American Alumroot, zones 4-9, 18-36", greenish white flowers; ornamental large leaves 4-6" across, rounded to heart-shaped, purple mottled foliage

x brizoides (bri-zoy' dees)--zones 4-9, 24-30", named for thin stems resembling Quaking Grass (Briza), many small flowers and rounded, lobed and green foliage; grown more for flowers than foliage

micrantha (mii-cran' thah)--Small-flowered Alumroot, zones 4-7, 12-24", yellowish white flowers in late spring; mainly grown for ornamental leaves, a west coast native performing best there

rubescens (rue-bess' cens)--Alpine Heuchera, zones 3-7, 4-6", pink flowers in spring, native to rocky slopes of California and Arizona, plants don't tolerate heat or humidity

sanguinea (san-gwen' ee-ah)--Alum Root, zones 3-8, 12-18", red flowers in early summer, native to New Mexico and Arizona, heart-shaped or rounded basal foliage mainly green is less ornamental than the flowers, much used for hybrids

villosa (vill-o' sah)--Hairy Alumroot, zones 5-9, 1-3', white flowers in summer, native to the southeastern U.S., hairy leaves to 5" across and lobed; tolerates heat and humidity in shade; var. macrorrhiza has pale green leaves.
 
 

Cultivars:

Most hybrids are combinations of sanguinea, americana and micrantha with exact parentage confused and unclear. Unless a species is listed below, hybrids are of either micrantha and americana (mxa) with ornamental foliage, of sanguinea and x brizoides (sxb) with ornamental flowers, or of rubescens and versicolor (rxv). Some newer hybrids of villosa parentage such as Brownies and Caramel. Flowers insignificant or not usually seen if not listed.
  
Cultivars hybrid flowers foliage (species)
'Alba'   creamy white sanguinea
'Amethyst Myst' mxa   amethyst
'Apple Blossom' sxb white, red rims  
'Autumn Bride'   white deep green, villosa
'Bartram' mxa   dark green, red veins, silver blotches
'Brandon Pink' sxb coral red, bright  
'Bressingham Bronze' mxa   deep purple, crinkled, from Palace Purple
'Bressingham Hybrids'  sxb coral, red, pink  
'Burgundy Frost' mxa   purple lavender, silver between veins
'Can-can' mxa   ruffled, silver veins
'Canyon Delight' sxb rose-red  
'Cappuccino' mxa   light bronze
'Caramel' villosa, light orange above, reddish below
'Carmen' sxb deep pink dark green
'Carousel' mxa rosy red rounded, silver tinted deep green
'Cascade Dawn' mxa   purple-silver, dark veins
'Cathedral Windows' mxa   dark, dark gray veins
'Chartreuse' sxb light green  
'Chatterbox' sxb pink, large  
'Checkers' mxa white, large thick green
'Cherry Splash' sxb cherry red  
'Chocolate Ruffles' mxa purple stems intense purple, deeply cut and ruffled
'Chocolate Veil' mxa   purple, silver between veins
'Coltus Bay Beauty' sxb pink purple veined
'Constance' rxv coral pink  
'Coral Cloud' sxb coral red  
'Crimson Cloud' sxb crimson green with silver veins
'Dale's Selection' mxa   purplish mottled white, red and silver
'Eco-magnifolia' mxa   silvery, green veins and edge
'Eco-improved' mxa   more silver, larger than Eco-magnifolia
'Edgehall' sxb dull pink  
'Emerald Veil' mxa   silvery, green edge and veins
'Fairy Cups' sxb cherry red cupped
'Firebird' sxb bright scarlet compact habit
'Firefly' sxb wine red  
'Fire Sprite' sxb rose red  
'Freedom' sxb soft pink marbled
'Frosty' sxb dark red white splashed
'Gaiety' sxb pink, many  
'Garnet' mxa   purple center to purplish leaves
'Greenfinch'   green-white cylindrica
'Green Ivory'   green-white cylindrica
'Green Marble'   green-white cylindrica, light green marbled
'Huntsman' sxb rosy pink  
'Hyperion'   pink cylindrica
'Jack Frost' sxb rose silvery
'June Bride' sxb white, pink tint  
'Leuchtkafer' sxb scarlet, dark ('Glow-worm')
'Matin Bells' sxb coral red  
'Maxima'   burgundy sanguinea
'Mayfair' rxv pink  
'Mint Julep' mxa   green, bright silver veins
'Molly Bush' mxa   darker more consistent Palace Purple selection
'Montrose Ruby' mxa   ruby, large, smooth
'Mt. St. Helens' sxb brick red  
'Oakington Jewel' sxb crimson red  
'Obsidian' dark purple, one of darkest
'Palace Passion' mxa coral pink deep purple, silver markings
'Palace Purple' mxa   purple fading bronze in heat, PPA, variable
'Pearl Drops' sxb pearl white  
'Persian Carpet' mxa   silver, green-purple veins
'Petite Pearl Fairy' white low, compact, small leaves
'Pewter Moon' mxa light pink silvery, pewter veins, purplish beneath
'Pewter Veil' mxa   pewter purple, silver netting
'Pink Cloud' sxb pink  
'Pluie de Feu' sxb cherry red ('Rain of Fire', 'Feuerregen')
'Plum Puddin' mxa   deep burgundy, shiny, compact habit
'Pretty Polly' sxb pale pink  
'Pruhoniciana' sxb red, white  
'Purple Petticoats' mxa   dark, ruffled, purple above, burgundy below
'Purple Ruffles' mxa white, small purple ruffled
'Purple Sails' mxa   dark purple, wavy, maple-shaped
'Purpurea'   white purple, hairy, villosa
'Queen of Hearts' sxb bright red  
'Rakete' sxb wine red dark green
'Raspberry Regal' sxb raspberry, tall  
'Red Spangles' sxb bright scarlet  
'Regal Robe' mxa   purple, silver mottled
'Ring of Fire' mxa   silver, dark purple veins
'Ruby Ruffles' mxa   ruby-red, some silver, ruffled
'Ruby Veil' mxa   ruby purple, silvery netting
'Ruffles' mxa white, small green, ruffled
'Scintillation' sxb red, pink rim  
'Silver Rain' sxb white, many ('Silberregen')
'Silver Shadows' mxa   silvery, thick
'Silver Veil' mxa cherry rose purplish, silver netting
'Sioux Falls' sxb bright red, tall  
'Snow Angel' sxb pink green, creamy mottled
'Snowflake' sxb white  
'Snowstorm' sxb cherry red white margins
'Splendens'   rich red sanguinea
'Splendour' sxb salmon scarlet  
'Splish Splash' sxb pink white centers, green margins
'Sterling Silver' mxa   silver, blue and purple veins
'Stormy Seas' mxa   dark, ruffled, cut margins
'Strawberry Swirl' sxb coral pink, tall ruffled, silvery patterns
'Tattletale' sxb pink  
'Torch' sxb scarlet, tall  
'Velvet Night' mxa   plum-black, metallic silver veins
'Violet Knight' mxa   silvery, deep purple veins
'Whirlwind' mxa white bronze-green, crested and fluted
'White Cloud' sxb white, small, tall  
'White Marble'   white,  marbled white, soft hairy, pubescens?
'White Spires' sxb white light green
'Widar'   dark red x brizoides

('Autumn Bride' photo courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden plantfinder)


©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.

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