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Coral Bells: Heuchera

Mary has been an online writer for over eight years. Her articles focus on everything from self-help to gardening.

Palace Purple coral bells in full sun.

Palace Purple coral bells in full sun.

Coral Bells

There are so many flowers and plants that no 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 grow well in my garden, I wrote this article.

Do Coral Bells Spread?

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 and may need to be thinned out. But it is 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

Varieties of Coral Bells

  • Palace Purple
  • Apple Crisp
  • Obsidian
  • Marmalade
  • Peach Flambe
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.

Growing and Caring for Coral Bells

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.

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. You might like to know that different varieties can also have different colored flowers, they are by no means all white.

Where to Plant Coral Bells

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.

They will tolerate full shade. If you are thinking of purchasing coral bells, just make sure the variety is suited to your gardening conditions. Different varieties have different requirements though most like humus-rich soil that is well-drained.

Location Matters

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

When to Plant Coral Bells

The best time to plant them is in the early spring and if planting more than one space a minimum of fourteen inches apart.

Coral bells with ruffled edges

Coral bells with ruffled edges

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.

How to Prune Coral Bells

  1. Use a sharp knife or clipper and cut any dead or diseased leaves anywhere on the plant.
  2. Remember to cut dead flowers off as well.
  3. 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.
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Read More From Dengarden

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.

How to Divide Coral Bells

  1. If the roots aren't visible gently lift the plant out of the dirt to expose the root.
  2. 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.
  3. Remember to dig the hole twice as wide as your 'new clump' and deep enough to cover the root ball.
  4. Hold the foliage out of the hole as you backfill. After covering up the new plants, tamp the dirt around each new plant.
  5. 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.
  6. Put some mulch around each plant remembering not to let the mulch touch the base of the plant.

Coral Bell, the Beautiful Flower

I was introduced to this plant by my daughter. When she bought her house, coral bells were 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 and a few I have purchased to compliment my beautiful and growing collection.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Mary Craig (author) from New York on March 16, 2015:

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

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on March 16, 2015:

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 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

Mary Craig (author) from New York on January 17, 2015:

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

Diana Grant from London on January 16, 2015:

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

Mary Craig (author) from New York on September 24, 2014:

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.

Kelly A Burnett from United States on September 23, 2014:

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.

Mary Craig (author) from New York on November 13, 2013:

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

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on November 11, 2013:

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

Mary Craig (author) from New York on November 11, 2013:

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!!

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on November 10, 2013:

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.

Mary Craig (author) from New York on April 13, 2013:

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

Michelle Liew from Singapore on April 12, 2013:

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!

Mary Craig (author) from New York on August 30, 2012:

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

Connie Smith from Southern Tier New York State on August 30, 2012:

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!

Mary Craig (author) from New York on June 29, 2012:

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

Tonja Petrella from Michigan on June 29, 2012:

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

Mary Craig (author) from New York on June 27, 2012:

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

Mohan Kumar from UK on June 27, 2012:

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.

Mary Craig (author) from New York on June 27, 2012:

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.

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on June 27, 2012:

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! :)

RTalloni on June 27, 2012:

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.

Movie Master from United Kingdom on June 27, 2012:

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

Joseph De Cross from New York on June 26, 2012:

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?

Mary Craig (author) from New York on June 26, 2012:

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.

Jim Higgins from Eugene, Oregon on June 26, 2012:

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.

Mary Craig (author) from New York on June 26, 2012:

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

moonlake from America on June 26, 2012:

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

Mary Craig (author) from New York on June 26, 2012:

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

Mary Craig (author) from New York on June 26, 2012:

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.

cleaner3 from Pueblo, Colorado on June 25, 2012:

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

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on June 25, 2012:

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.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 25, 2012:

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.

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on June 25, 2012:

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

Suzie from Carson City on June 25, 2012:

Your hat is supposed to have silk ties to tie under your a Southern 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....

Mary Craig (author) from New York on June 25, 2012:

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 :)

Suzie from Carson City on June 25, 2012:

TillieBell....I love your hub about Coral bells....and they are probably exactly what I need to ask Jim to plant in our shady 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++

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