Few plants in recent years have seen as many new introductions with such dazzling new colors as Heuchera. These refined, well-behaved plants offer both attractive bell-shaped blossoms and handsome evergreen foliage. Slender, wiry, 1- to 212-ft. stems bear loose clusters of nodding flowers that are typically no more than 18 in. across. These dainty blooms, which often lack petals, make an interesting and long-lasting addition to arrangements; they also attract hummingbirds and other pollinators. Colors include carmine, crimson, red, coral, rose, pink, greenish, pale yellow, and white. Most bloom in spring and late summer, and some continue into fall. Leaves are roundish, with scalloped or ruffled edges; colors run the gamut from yellow and orange to red, purple, and brown. Most recent introductions are grown more for fancy foliage than for flowers.
Use Heuchera in combination with other perennials in mixed borders; try them in rock gardens and in sweeping masses. Selections with light-colored foliage can brighten a shady spot. All excel in containers, actually growing better than in the ground in most cases.
H. xbrizoides. Diverse group of hybrids between H. sanguinea and other species. To 1212 ft. tall, 1112 ft. wide, with spring or summer bloom. 'Lipstick' has dark red flowers; its green leaves are heavily mottled with silver. A seed-grown strain called Bressingham Hybrids offers flowers in white and shades of pink and red. Other seed-grown types include 'Firefly' ('Leuchtkfer'), with fragrant bells in fiery scarlet; 'Freedom', profuse rosy pink blooms; 'Ruby Bells', red flowers; and 'Bressingham White', long-blooming white. Cutting-grown types include 'June Bride', large pure white blossoms; 'Snow Angel', deep reddish pink flowers above white-variegated foliage.
H. hybrids. The following selections have been selected for their marvelously colored and sometimes ruffled foliage. Some have as a parent H. americana, a species from the central U.S. with marbled and veined leaves up to 4 in. across. Many newer hybrids involve H. villosa, a large-leafed native to the mid-Southern U.S. and thus quite tolerant of heat and humidity. Both form mounds of foliage 812 in. high and 1216 in. wide. Tiny summer flowers are held on thin stalks to 23 ft. high and are white to cream unless otherwise noted.
'Beaujolais'. Dark purple to maroon leaves.
'Blackout'. Compact mound of glossy, nearly black foliage. Striking.
'Brownies'. Large, chocolate-brown leaves.
'Caramel'. Leaves emerge dusky red and mature through apricot tones to golden yellow. Highly recommended.
'Citronelle'. Leaves are chartreuse to bright lemon-yellow. Vigorous grower once established.
'Crimson Curls'. Deep red, ruffled leaves, fading to gray-green in summer.
'Delta Dawn'. Large roundish leaves with golden-green edges and red centers.
'Electric Lime'. Large lime-green leaves with red veining.
'Georgia Peach'. Leaves emerge peachy orange and age through red tones to rosy purple; dark veins and a silvery sheen. Heat tolerant and vigorous.
'Mocha'. Vigorous grower. Leaves are chocolate-brown above, deep purple beneath; turn nearly black in sun.
'Obsidian'. Foliage deepest burgundy, nearly black, with glossy sheen. Dependable.
'Peach Flambe'. Bright peach-colored leaves turn plum in winter. Heat tolerant.
'Pinot Gris'. Leaves emerge ginger with a silver overlay, aging to rose tones; undersides are deep purple.
'Pinot Noir'. New growth is black-purple, developing a strong silvery overlay and black veins as it matures.
'Pistache'. Lime-green to chartreuse foliage. Fresh-looking all season.
'Southern Comfort'. Very large (9-in.) leaves are peachy orange when new, taking on copper and amber tones as they age. Vigorous and heat tolerant. Highly recommended for the South.
'Spellbound'. Vigorous grower with lightly ruffled, silvery leaves with purple highlights.
'Tiramisu'. Leaves emerge chartreuse with a large central area of red, which fades as the season progresses. In fall, center turns burgundy while edges remain chartreuse. Late blooming.
H. micrantha. Native to California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho. Adapts easily to garden conditions. Long-stalked, roundish, gray-green, 1- to 3-in.-wide leaves are toothed and lobed, hairy on both sides. Late- spring to early-summer flowers are whitish or greenish, about 18 in. long, carried in loose clusters on leafy, 2- to 3-ft. stems. Hybrid forms developed from H. micrantha are more adaptable than the species. 'Ruffles' has green leaves that are deeply lobed and ruffled around the edges. 'Palace Purple' has maplelike, rich brownish or purplish leaves that retain their color year-round if given adequate sunlight
H. sanguinea. CORAL BELLS. Native to New Mexico and Arizona. Round, 1- to 2-in. leaves with scalloped edges form neat foliage tufts. From spring into summer, slender, wiry, 1- to 2-ft. stems bear open clusters of nodding, bell-shaped, bright red or coral-pink flowers. Selections include 'Carmen' (deep brick-red flowers), 'Chatterbox' (rosy coral), 'Gaiety' (coral-pink), and 'White Cloud' (pure white). These selections display red flowers above variegated foliage: 'Cherry Splash' (white and gold variegation), 'Snowstorm' (bright white), and 'Frosty' (silvery). All of these require perfect drainage.
H. villosa. HAIRY ALUM ROOT. Native from Virginia to Georgia and Tennessee, with high tolerance for heat and humidity. Both foliage and flowers are softly hairy. Tooth-edged green leaves to 5 in. across have triangular lobes, form a mound 1122 ft. high and wide. White to pinkish blossoms on stems to 3 ft. tall appear late in the season, near the end of summer. 'Autumn Bride' has green leaves and white flowers. 'Purpurea' features deep purple foliage and white blossoms.
These plants require well-drained soil containing lots of organic matter, such as compost. Divide clumps every 2 to 3 years in spring or fall. Replant vigorous rooted divisions; discard older, woody portions. Can also be started from dust-like seed sown in spring. Watch out for mealybugs, which sometimes infest plants near the base and even on the roots; control with regular applications of insecticidal soap. Black vine weevils can cause much damage; look for notched leaf edges in summer and C-shaped white grubs below the soil line in fall and winter. These grubs chew through the base of the plant (detached crowns can be rerooted in fresh soil). Scalding water poured over the grubs is a good organic control. Rust may occur; remove and dispose of infected leaves.