Coral Bells ring the bell

Coral Bells are a low growing, colorful perennial that doesn’t mind the shade. The book on Coral Bells (Heuchera) says sun to part shade. My Coral Bells are on the east side and under a large oak tree. They seem to love this location as they have given me color for several years. They don’t like poorly drained soil, and in hot dry weather they will need a weekly drink of water. Coral Bells are a clump forming, mounding perennial. They generally grow to a little over a foot tall and the clump is one to two and a half feet in diameter.

If you have Coral Bells in your landscape already, you will have been enjoying them all winter as they do not die back. However, you will also know that the real show will happen this summer as their color comes alive. The genius name, Heuchera, is in honor of the 18th-century German physician, botanist, and medicinal plant expert Johann Heinrich von Heucher.

Coral Bells can be planted as a border or as a display plant. They are available in many varieties. They are very showy in any soil but when planted in highly organic, fertile sites, the foliage becomes more engaging. When planting Heuchera for the first time in a bed, amend the soil with compost or organic matter to improve drainage. Breeders have developed numerous cultivars with magnificent colors. You can find chartreuse, peach, deep purples, silver, caramels, reds, and even contrasting venation colors. You could find your favorite cultivar and plant several in one bed. I like a variety planted in close proximity to each other. They create a bouquet of Coral Bells. I like the Palace Purple coral bells planted next to Caramel coral bells.

I grow them mainly for their foliage but they do bloom and attract hummingbirds and bees to your landscape. Blooms come on in spring to early summer and on some varieties are quite showy. Palace Purple coral bells, produce a creamy white flower. They appear on tall flower spikes and are a contrast to the deep purple foliage. Caramel coral bells are a very heat tolerant plant with peachy apricot leaves that grow well in Oklahoma gardens.

Some cultivars may not be as heat tolerant as others. The more heat tolerant cultivars often have Heuchera villosa in their parentage. Besides Palace Purple and Caramel, Citronelle is also a heat tolerant cultivar. Citronelle is a lime green, heat tolerant coral bells that brighten up a shady landscape bed. If you have a shade garden, Coral Bells (Heuchera) definitely would make an excellent addition to your landscape.