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Bright and beautiful Heucheras set shady spaces alight in all seasons
So many different varietiesPlant breeders have now created hundreds of different Heuchera varieties with foliage colour which will blow you away once you start to notice. These plants are so easy and they generally thrive in the British climate. They are tough; will tolerate a semi-shaded position and they are not pH sensitive.
Where can you plant Heuchera?They are attractive groundcover plants that owe their popularity to their wide range of foliage colours combined with their evergreen nature. What's more, these plants seem to be immune to attack by slugs or snails. They are happy in so many different situations: open ground; pots; shade; partial sun; under trees; out in the open. They can provide underplanting around taller perennials, shrubs and grasses; they thrive on balconies and in window boxes and can even be used in hanging pots too.
Coral BellsDon't assume, however, that Heuchera will always look the same. Coral Bells, as they are known, can change colour in response to fluctuations in temperature and even produce flowers on stalks - hence the popular name. The plants take on an autumn hue which serves to make them look even more appealing.
Heuchera are virtually problem-freeWhat's the down side? It's very difficult to find anything except the fact that vine weevil larvae are partial to the roots and you might need to drench with nematodes if this is a problem in your garden.
Heuchera colours, so bright and beautifulAnd now the colours. There are so many. Dusky maroon through to purple and almost black on the dark side. Lime green, yellow and orange with contrasting leaf veins on the bright side. And many colours in between. Garden lovers enjoy noticing the contrasting detail on the foliage. Some yellow leaves, for example, are splashed with bright magenta highlights. Pictures speak a thousand words and it is these that allow the plants to sell themselves.
Planting in dry shadeWhich is best for dry shade? Perhaps the purple Heuchera. You'll need to water them in well during their first year, then once they have established they'll be there for many years to come. Heuchera 'Palace Purple' is a particularly popular variety and is actually one of the oldest. Its deep plum-colour foliage is heartily reliable and the pink bell flowers on stalks make a beautiful contrast. If you want to achieve good groundcover, plant Heuchera about 30cm apart and cover any bare ground with mulch to keep out the weeds.
Dramatic Heuchera coloursThen there's the deliciously amber range including the glorious 'Delta Dawn' (see photo above) with its caramel leaf veins surrounded by lemon. and the distinguished 'Creme Brulee' with its coffee tones. For drama you might love 'Electric Lime' with its lime green leaves traversed by red veins.
Tiarellas and Heucherellas, what are they?
Of course there are other, closely related beauties too including the Heucherellas and Tiarellas. What are these? Well, Heucherellas are Heuchera crossed with Tiarella. The resulting 'foamy bells' have a more cascading habit; more shapely leaves and often have more flowery flowers! Tiarella are gorgeous in their own right, having lobed or heart shaped foliage which is mainly green with maroon barring in the centre. They produce star shaped flowers usually clustered together at the top of the stems. Crossing Heuchera with Tiarella produces something that has more ornate foliage, profuse flowers on stalks and a greater foliage colour variation. What's not to love?Don't be fooled into thinking that these plants are only for shade. They thrive in partial sun and some even like full sun. Check the information about the variety before deciding where to plant it.