Coral bells, coral bells…it's summertime in the country.

Coral Bells
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Some of our favorite garden plants are Heucheras, also known as coral bells. These plants are shade-loving spring- and summertime bloomers with gorgeous foliage that appears in striking colors. Members of the family Saxifragaceae, coral bells are herbaceous perennials that, in mild climates, are evergreen and can keep their attractive leaves all year long. The Southern Living Garden Book describes them as "refined, well-behaved plants that offer both attractive bell-shaped blossoms and handsome foliage. Slender, wiry, 1- to 2 1/2-ft. stems bear loose clusters of nodding flowers that are typically no more than 1/8 in. across." It's a family full of pretty plants, but one hybrid, ‘Carnival Peach Parfait', really takes the cake.

‘Carnival Peach Parfait' Coral Bells

These coral bells, also known as Heuchera x ‘Carnival Peach Parfait', produce foliage that lives up to their name. Their leaves emerge in peach and red hues with peachy orange veining across the surface of the foliage. In spring and summer, the plant offers up tiny, delicate white blooms. This pretty plant loves the shade and thrives in the heat, making it a perfect planting for Southern gardens.

Growing Heucheras

Coral bells look great when grown in masses. They can be started from seed in the garden; if you do this, be sure to sow in spring. Coral bells can also be planted in combination with other perennials in beds and borders. They are able to stand up to the conditions found in rock gardens and shady areas too. They do best in the shade, but they do tolerate a bit of morning sunlight. For coral bells to thrive, they need regular water and well-draining soil amended with plenty of organic matter. Clumps can be divided every few years.

About Heucheras

In addition to "coral bells," Heucheras are also known by the common name "alum root." While coral bells are native to New Mexico and Arizona, they're also at home in the hot climates of the South. The Southern Living Garden Book describes their appearance as having "round, 1- to 2-in. leaves with scalloped edges that form foliage tufts. From spring into summer, slender, wiry, 1- to 2-ft. stems bear open clusters of bell-shaped, bright red or coral pink flowers." Those flowers are known to attract hummingbirds and other garden visitors. They appear in pinky shades, hence their common name, as well as green and white hues. Some of those blooms are hardy and last into fall.

Types of Heucheras

Heucheras can be found in gardens across the South. Other hybrids with foliage as striking as that of ‘Carnival Peach Parfait' include ‘Peach Flambe', ‘Southern Comfort', ‘Frosted Violet', ‘Grape Soda', and ‘Marmalade'—all of which sound as delicious as they look. The related H. Americana, also known as American alum root, grows in mounds and sprouts attractive blossoms. ‘Amber Waves' has rose-hued flowers and orange leaves, ‘Chocolate Ruffles' has purple flowers and brown-and-burgundy foliage, and ‘Plum Pudding' has pink flowers and purple leaves.

As for the species Heucheras sanguinea, The Southern Living Garden Book explains, "Selections include deep brick red ‘Carmen', rosy coral ‘Chatterbox', coral pink ‘Gaiety', and pure white ‘White Cloud'. ‘Cherry Splash' and ‘Frosty' display red flowers above variegated foliage—the former has white-and-red variegation, the latter silvery variegation." Other related species and hybrids grown in the South include H. x brizoides, H. micrantha, and H. villosa.

Need a second opinion on planting Heucheras? The Grumpy Gardener says, "Hooray for Heuchera!"

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What are your favorite shade-loving plants? Do you have any coral bells planted in your garden?