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Coral Bells: Heuchera

Palace Purple coral bells in full sun.
Palace Purple coral bells in full sun. | Source

Coral Bells, aka Heuchera

There are so many flowers and plants that no one article (or even ten articles) could cover them all. Each variety has its own varieties, leading to hundreds more. However, one of the easiest to grow and most interesting in the garden is coral bells.Their botanical name is Heuchera and since they they grow well in my garden, I wrote this article.

To start with, coral bells are perennials and will come back year after year. They will also multiply on their own and after three or four years may need to be thinned out, but what a joy to have a plant that grows so well you have to "weed it out" every so many years! So if you're asking do coral bells spread, the answer is yes.

Palace Purple Coral Bells
Palace Purple Coral Bells | Source

Easy to Grow

I was introduced to this plant by my daughter. When she bought her house, there were coral bells growing in her yard. I had never seen them before and thought they were fascinating. About the same time my mother-in-law asked me if I wanted some plants from her garden and lo and behold the purple coral bell was one of them! I immediately said yes and planted just one in my garden.

Having sand for soil it is not always easy to find plants that do well, but the good old coral bell grows well in just about any soil. I now have many coral bells divided off the original as well as a few I have purchased to compliment my collection.

They like sun or shade though in the north sun helps bring out their color. In the south they need to be planted in shade because the hot sun will burn their leaves and cause leaf scorching making the plant unhealthy and unattractive.

This coral bell is under a lilac bush which is additionally shaded by an evergreen tree.  Some sun gets in but it is mostly shade.
This coral bell is under a lilac bush which is additionally shaded by an evergreen tree. Some sun gets in but it is mostly shade.

Different Uses - Different Varieties

Once upon a time, coral bells were grown for their dainty flowers, which by the way, attract hummingbirds and butterflies. As with so many plants and flowers, crossbreeding and special cultivations have made their leaves as attractive, if not more, to the gardener.

They can also be considered for ground cover. Remember I said they spread on their own? They can fill in any open area with their colorful leaves (and dainty flowers). They can grow up to three feet tall and just as wide under the right conditions.

Different varieties have different requirements though most like humus rich soil that is well drained. While I'm talking about different varieties, you might like to know that different varieties can also have different colored flowers, they are by no means all white. As I mentioned earlier they will tolerate full shade. If you are thinking of purchasing coral bells, just make sure the variety is suited to your gardening conditions. The best time to plant them is in the early spring and if planting more than one space a minimum of fourteen inches apart.

Different varieties come in different colors and sometimes the same color has a different variety...different leaf shapes, purple on top or purple on the bottom, some leaves have ruffled edges, some have smooth, straight edges.

Coral bells with ruffled edges
Coral bells with ruffled edges | Source

Pruning Coral Bells

Since they may be evergreen in your area, it is always good to prune back the dead leaves in the spring. As with many flowering plants deadheading is a good practice. If plants are deadheaded you will get repeat blooms that could last through August!

You can prune during the summer as well. Use a sharp knife or clipper and cut any dead or diseased leaves anywhere on the plant. Remember to cut dead flowers off as well. While you're pruning you can cut off the older, outer leaves and trim the plant back to give it a neater appearance. Most people try to keep the shape nice and round so it is necessary to trim on all sides.

Dividing Coral Bells

The best time to divide is in the fall. Coral bells are fibrous roots and easy to divide. Some of the roots actually grow on top of the soil so it makes it very easy to tell where to cut the root off. If the roots aren't visible gently lift the plant out of the dirt to expose the root. Cut the roots into separate clumps about four inches wide and plant each clump separately. If there are smaller root clumps, cut them off and plant them separately as well. Remember to dig the hole twice as wide as your 'new clump' and deep enough to cover the root ball. Hold the foliage out of the hole as you back fill. After covering up the new plants, tamp the dirt around each new plant.

Give the new plants a good watering at transplant time. Thereafter, keep the soil moist but not soggy until the plants seem to have taken hold. Put some mulch around each plant remembering not to let the mulch touch the base of the plant.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Another transplant of my purple coral bellI don't remember if this is butterscotch or caramel.Although this was taken from the purple coral bell the sun seems to have changed it's colorYou can see some of the flowers starting to bloomA closer look at the dainty flower of the purple coral bell
Another transplant of my purple coral bell
Another transplant of my purple coral bell | Source
I don't remember if this is butterscotch or caramel.
I don't remember if this is butterscotch or caramel. | Source
Although this was taken from the purple coral bell the sun seems to have changed it's color
Although this was taken from the purple coral bell the sun seems to have changed it's color | Source
You can see some of the flowers starting to bloom
You can see some of the flowers starting to bloom | Source
A closer look at the dainty flower of the purple coral bell
A closer look at the dainty flower of the purple coral bell | Source

Varieties

I keep talking about the varieties of coral bells so I thought I'd give you a short list of their names:

Palace Purple
Apple Crisp
Obsidian
Marmalade
Peach Flambe

No, those aren't foods, they are coral bells. To see more or order some of the above you can find tons of sites on the Internet.

I hope I've introduced you to this fun plant and you'll be adding it to your garden! Feel free to comment on this article and flower, I'd love to hear from you.

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Comments 36 comments

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

TillieBell....I love your hub about Coral bells....and they are probably exactly what I need to ask Jim to plant in our shady spots....you did say they will do OK in the shade, right?

You are a walking-talking Botanical encyclopedia!!........I'll bet you look adorable with your big brim hat and gardening gloves and your apron with the little hand tools in the pockets.......JUST LIKE MARY, MARY, QUITE CONTRARY!!! ah ah ah ......HEUCHERA!!!! Oh, God bless you!! up++


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Quite contrary for sure...but alas, no hat, it falls off my head when I'm gardening.

Yes, it will grow in the shade. That's how I started with it then spread it all over the place. I'm sure Jim will be thrilled I've added more work for him.

Oh, and God bless you :)


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Your hat is supposed to have silk ties to tie under your chin....like a Southern Belle......TilleBell....as you tend to your Coral Bell.......Jim is like you when it comes to his prized landscaping....he doesn't consider it work. Really. He loves it....


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

Beautiful plants. I wish I had a garden to put some in. Love the pictures! VUMS (Voted Up, More, and Shared)


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Love it and the plants are gorgeous! I never have grown them; not even sure if we have them in this area. Now I'll have to find out.


Vellur profile image

Vellur 4 years ago from Dubai

Coral Bells are beautiful and great to plant in a garden. You hub is very useful with great tips. It is easy to grow them because they grow well in any soil as you have stated.


cleaner3 profile image

cleaner3 4 years ago from Pueblo, Colorado

tillie , beautiful hub love the colorful flowers. brightened up my day .


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Thanks Terry. They will grow anywhere you know ;)

Billybuc, I'm sure they have to be around there somewhere. They seem to be everywhere.

Glad you enjoyed my hub Vellur.

Happy to brighten up your day Cleaner.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

While I may fit the bill for TilleBell I'm certainly no Audrey Hepburn so the hat is out ;)


moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

I love coral bells. I have them in my garden. I like the color they add. Good information. I have never divided them. They grow in the shade here and are a little touchy with our harsh winters. Voted Up


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

They do offer a lot of color don't they? Glad you stopped by Moonlake. I know harsh winters can be just that, harsh.


xstatic profile image

xstatic 4 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

We have several of these plants in the yard and they are flourishing, which means they have to be hardy, since we even have trouble with zuchinni. It is nice to know more about them.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

I know xstatic, coral bells will grow just about anywhere, in my sand, in your yard...they've got it goin on! Thanks for stopping by.


Lord De Cross profile image

Lord De Cross 4 years ago

Thanks for introducing to us these Coral Bells and its varieties. Amazing how they can survive on any soil worh trying. Palace Purple and Peach Flambe sound classy enough. I wonder if it could be grown on future space projects(Moon, Mars, International Space). Great pics and great hub. Your botanical knowledge make us look like Peter Pan: Will we ever grow up?


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

Coral Bells are just what I need to fill some spaces in my garden, although I have always liked them I have never grown them!

Thank you for the information, lovely photos and great article.

Voted up and shared.

Best wishes Lesley


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

I'm so glad to learn more about my heuchera--thanks! I was planning to take some photos of it tomorrow. Now I can look at it with a view of dividing it.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

I will have to try some coral bells. I have several shady places that I need a good shade plant for and I love plants that you can divide and transplant to another spot. Great information here, thank you for sharing! Voted up and useful. Have a beautiful day! :)


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Ah Lord, I don't want to grow up! I think that's why I like to garden, I get to play in the dirt. Coral bells grow just about anywhere so why not the Moon? Glad you liked my hub and pics.

Movie Master coral bells will definitely fill any space. In a year or two you'll be dividing them up because they take up so much space.

RTalloni glad I could help. They are easy to divide and transplant well.

Sgbrown I'm sure you won't be disappointed. I started my in shade and they did very well.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK

Mary, this is a superior gardening hub on the curiously named Heuchera. Your descriptions, pictures and easy instructions on fostering these are delightful to follow. I love the variety names ( Obsidian, Peach Flambe etc) they conjure up such different images reading about them. voted up/away.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Thanks Mohan. They do sound delicious don't they? Curiously named but colorful addition.


Virtual Treasures profile image

Virtual Treasures 4 years ago from Michigan

I love coral bells! I have several varieties planted and they provide such a nice splash of color in my shade gardens!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Thanks for commenting Virtual Treasures, they certainly do add color to the shade garden and a little whimsy with their tiny flowers.


grandmapearl profile image

grandmapearl 4 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

A beautifully-written and very informative article! I love my coral bells, which are beginning to multiply. I am so glad to have found this information. Now I know how to divide them. I also didn't know they needed to be deadheaded. That didn't occur to me. Seeing the hummers enjoy them is such fun. I have the Palace Purple and the Peach Flambe, which is such a gorgeous orangey color.

Voted Up, Useful, Awesome and Beautiful, also pinned and shared!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York Author

Thanks Grandmapearl, nice to hear from someone who enjoys them as much as I do. They are colorful and so easy to grow!


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore

Beautiful flowers which I wish we could see more of in Singapore. I will check out if they are being grown in our conservatory at Gardens by the Bay. Thanks for sharing!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

Thank you for reading and sharing Michelle. We all have so much to learn about each other and our countries...one of the reasons I love hubpages.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA

Found this while browsing Pinterest, and could not resist the read. My mom had coral bells almost the whole time I was growing up. I have always liked them; they are a nostalgia flower for me. Mom's were the "original" coral color--hence their name.

I had some planted here, but we had a hard cold snap a couple of years ago, and it did them in. I must get more!

When my kids were in Girl Scouts, we learned a song, "White Coral Bells." Perhaps you've heard it?

Voted up, interesting, useful, beautiful, shared and re-pinned.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

Lizzy I haven't heard the song but will have to look for it. Yes, I believe coral bells are "old fashioned" flowers that have weathered well and are such a joy to have in the garden. Thanks so much for the votes and shares!!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA

Here it is, sung by a group of Girl Scouts...first alone, then as a round. It's a very sweet, smooth, lilting melody.

http://youtu.be/NVgzWxuDCww


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York Author

I liked it so much Lizzy I added it to this hub! Thank you.


Easy Exercise profile image

Easy Exercise 2 years ago from United States

I planted three coral bells four years ago. Recently I separated them and ended up alternating them between hostas. They look spectacular. What a great investment. I now have over 8 plants and the landscape looks amazing - even for an amateur gardener such as myself. These plants are tried and true.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 2 years ago from New York Author

Easy Exercise I like your idea of putting them between hostas, I bet it looks great! I have to admit you can't kill these things, no drought or storm, they just keep growing.


Diana Grant profile image

Diana Grant 22 months ago from London

I've got some heuchera called London Pride which have been in my garden for about 50 years. They don't look as good as they used to, so I might dig them out, split them, prune them and replace. They are green with salmon pink spires. I also have newer red leaved ones, which are very pretty. I enjoyed your article and especially how to prune them


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 22 months ago from New York Author

I'm glad you found this useful Diana. I'm sure separating them will give them a new star and make them all healthier.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 20 months ago from sunny Florida

You are so right Mary when you say that we could write a skadillion hubs on flowers and plants and never even scratch the surface.

I think these plants are gorgeous...I do not have any in my yard but hope to ...my friend has a nursery and I am sure I can get a few cuttings from hers.

thanks for sharing Angels are once again on the way to you this morning ps


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 20 months ago from New York Author

Patricia they really are great plants. They come in a variety of colors and hummingbirds love them. Enjoy! Hugs and blessings.

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