Coral Bells, also known as Heuchera, is an excellent addition to any garden or landscape. With their vibrant foliage and dainty flowers, they bring color and texture to any space.
They are also easy to grow and care for, making them a popular choice among gardeners. In this article, we will discuss how to grow and care for coral bells.
1. What are Coral Bells?
Coral Bells are a type of herbaceous perennial plant that belongs to the Saxifragaceae family. They are native to North America and are popular for their unique foliage, which comes in a range of colors from green to purple, silver, and even black. They typically grow to be between 1 and 3 feet tall and wide and produce small, bell-shaped flowers in the summer.
2. Types of Coral Bells
There are over 50 different types of coral bells, each with its unique foliage and flower colors. Some popular varieties include:
- ‘Palace Purple’: Has deep purple leaves and produces pinkish-purple flowers.
- ‘Lime Rickey’: Has lime green leaves and produces white flowers.
- ‘Caramel’: Has caramel-colored leaves and produces pink flowers.
- ‘Obsidian‘: Has black leaves and produces pink flowers.
3. Climate and Soil Requirements
Coral Bells thrive in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 9, which cover most of the United States. They prefer well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. The soil should have a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0. If your soil is heavy or has poor drainage, add compost or perlite to improve it.
4. Light Requirements
Coral Bells grow best in partial shade but can also tolerate full sun or full shade. In hot climates, they may need more shade to prevent their leaves from burning. If you’re not sure how much sun your plants are getting, use a light meter to measure the light levels in your garden.
5. Watering Requirements
Coral Bells prefer evenly moist soil, but they don’t like to sit in water. Water your plants deeply once a week, or more often during hot, dry weather. Avoid getting water on the leaves, as this can lead to fungal diseases. Mulching around the base of the plant can help retain moisture and prevent weeds.
6. Fertilizing Requirements
Coral Bells do not need a lot of fertilizer, but they do benefit from occasional feeding. Use a balanced fertilizer in early spring, following the package instructions for the correct amount. Avoid fertilizing in late summer or fall, as this can encourage new growth that may not harden off before winter.
7. Pruning and Deadheading
Coral Bells do not require extensive pruning, but deadheading spent flowers can promote new blooms and prevent self-seeding. Cut off the flower stalks when they are finished blooming, making sure to leave the foliage intact. You can also remove any damaged or diseased leaves as needed.
Coral Bells can be propagated by division or from seed. The division is the easiest method and should be done in early spring or fall. Dig up the plant carefully.
separate the clumps into smaller sections, making sure each section has at least one healthy stem and root system. Replant the sections in a new location and water them well. If you prefer to grow coral bells from seed, collect the seeds in the fall and sow them in the spring after the last frost.
9. Pests and Diseases
Coral Bells are generally resistant to pests and diseases, but they can occasionally be affected by fungal diseases, such as rust and powdery mildew. To prevent these diseases, make sure your plants are not crowded and have good air circulation. If you do notice signs of disease, remove and dispose of any affected leaves or flowers. Aphids, slugs, and snails can also be a problem, but they can be controlled with insecticidal soap or by handpicking.
10. Common Varieties
As mentioned earlier, there are over 50 different types of coral bells, each with its unique foliage and flower colors. Some other popular varieties include:
- ‘Electric Lime’: Has lime green leaves with black veins and produces pink flowers.
- ‘Midnight Rose’: Has dark purple leaves with pink speckles and produces white flowers.
- ‘Berry Smoothie’: Has burgundy leaves and produces pink flowers.
- ‘Georgia Peach’: Has peach-colored leaves and produces pink flowers.
11. Landscaping Ideas
Coral Bells is a versatile plant that can be used in a variety of landscaping designs. They make great border plants, edging plants, and ground covers. They also pair well with other shade-loving plants, such as hostas, ferns, and astilbes. Here are some landscaping ideas to try:
- Plant coral bells in a mixed border with other perennials, such as coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, and daisies.
- Use coral bells as a ground cover under trees or in shady areas.
- Plant coral bells in a container with other shade-loving plants, such as impatiens, begonias, and ferns.
- Create a focal point in your garden by planting several coral bell varieties together in a group.
12. Frequently Asked Questions
- How often should I water my coral bells?
- Water your coral bells deeply once a week, or more often during hot, dry weather.
- When should I fertilize my coral bells?
- Fertilize your coral bells in early spring with a balanced fertilizer, following the package instructions for the correct amount.
- Can coral bells grow in full sun?
- Yes, coral bells can grow in full sun, but they prefer partial shade.
- How do I prevent my coral bells from getting powdery mildew?
- To prevent powdery mildew, make sure your plants are not crowded and have good air circulation.
- How do I propagate coral bells?
- Coral bells can be propagated by division or from seed.
Coral Bells are a low-maintenance plant that can bring color and texture to any garden or landscape. By following the tips outlined in this article, you can successfully grow and care for these beautiful plants. Whether you plant them as border plants, ground covers, or in containers, coral bells are sure to add a unique touch to your outdoor space.