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The Current Perennial Craze: The Heucheras, aka "Coral Bells"

by Ray Allen

Is your perennial garden up to date? Now nobody is more interested in the old-fashioned flowers than I am, but over the last few years, there has been a quiet revolution going on in perennial circles concerning one of our native plants, and how they've been "improved" for home gardens.

Imagine a neat, small plant with extraordinary foliage that does well in shade. The foliage can be green, caramel-colored, reddish, purple, or even bi-colored. Then there are flowers, either coral-colored or cream. Then imagine that these plants are evergreen. Or ever-purple. Or ever-caramel.  And you have the "heucheras," a new group of perennials bred form one one of our native woodland plants which until now has been patiently waiting for the experts to bring it out of the woods, dress it up, and present it into our gardens.

Imagine the possibilities. Now your shady areas can remain colorful all year long. No more withering hostas and ferns when winter comes! The oldest heucheras were commonly called "Coral Bells" since they had and have red/pink/coral flowers. Most of the newer ones, bred from separate native species, have cream-colored blooms. They all bloom in late spring on tall stems that rise from the center of the plant.  The blooms are somewhat like hosta bloom stalks.  But the news is the foliage.   It all adds up to a whole new way to landscape in shady areas with year-round color.  Plant them!

We now have no less than 15 Heucheras in our perennial selections for spring. Take a look at them all. Below are names and links to the ones shown.

heucheras encore
"H. Encore"
heucheras carmel
"H. Caramel"
heucheras obsidian
"H. Obsidian" with almost black foliage.
heucheras venus
"H. Venus"