Heuchera, commonly called Coral Bells, are very easy to grow and, when planted right and in the right spot, will return year after year in your gardens. There are are many varieties of Heuchera and these days they come in every color under the sun. Though Heuchera are prized for their bold texture and colorful foliage, many varieties produce pretty flowers that rise above the mounds of foliage on thin stems. In colder regions some Heuchera varieties are deciduous, which means they lose all their leaves. In warmer climates many varieties are evergreen, providing beautiful winter interest in the garden.  

Here's a breakdown of what you need to know regarding planting Heuchera...


Soil

Most Heuchera like a humus-rich soil that is moist but well-drained. To provide a healthy environment for Heuchera to grow in garden beds or containers, good soil drainage is essential. In their native habitat Heuchera are found growing on slopes and even cliffs. So they like a soil that is rich in humus but soft and porous. That means it might be necessary to amend heavy clay soils, which tend to hold a lot of water (especially during winter), with composted manure, chopped leaves, homemade compost, a quality planting mix, or other organic materials. Any site that stays soaking wet isn't good for growing perennial ferns. To ensure good soil drainage, plant in raised beds or mounds if you have to. 


Soil pH

Soil pH is a measurement of the alkalinity or acidity of soil, which is measured on a scale of 1-14, with 7 as the neutral mark. Any measurement below 7 indicates acid soil conditions, and anything above 7 indicates alkaline.

Heuchera plants grow best in a moderately acid to slightly acid soil ranging from 5.5 to 6.5 on the pH scale. Most average garden soils fall between a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. 

If you're unsure about the pH of your soil, or whether or not it's suitable for growing Heuchera, it's a good idea to test the soil pH in the planting area. You can quickly test soil pH with an inexpensive soil pH tester probe. To raise the pH (make more alkaline) you can add pelletized limestone to the soil. To lower the pH (make more acid) you can apply Soil SulfurAluminum Sulfate, or Chelated Iron. Adding organic compost to the soil or using compost as mulch can also help to increase acidity and maintain acid soil conditions.

NOTE: Under the description tab on every plant page in Wilson Bros Gardens you'll find the soil pH range the plant will perform best in. 



Light Needs

Most Heuchera like partial shade to mostly shade. Depending on the variety and planting zone (where you live and garden), some varieties will tolerate more sun, even full sun. In general, morning sun is preferred to hot afternoon sun and all Heuchera will thrive in this environment. That said, the Heuchera with lighter color leaves tend to prefer more shade while the ones with darker leaves will tolerate more sun. Hope that wasn't too confusing for you!



Planting Heuchera In Garden Beds

(Scroll down for advice on planting Heuchera in containers and pots)


Step 1

If you are not tilling the soil in the entire planting area, start by digging your planting hole at least two to three times as wide and no deeper than the rootball. The wider the hole the better. Place native soil removed from planting hole around the perimeter of the hole, in a wheel barrow, or on a tarp. When planting in tilled soil just dig the planting hole the same size or a little larger than the rootball of the plant.


Step 2

Depending on the type, fertility and porosity of the soil, you might need to amend the native soil. When planting in dense clay or poor soil it is often beneficial to thoroughly mix in some good organic matter, such as composted manure, homemade compost, sand, and/or a good planting mix at a 50/50 ratio with the clay soil. Doing so usually forms a raised bed or mound that ensures proper soil drainage. When planting in very sandy, quick-draining soil you might need to mix in some top soil, peat moss and/or compost to help retain some moisture. When planting in fertile, loamy, well-drained soil there might not be a need for adding a soil amendment, though some composted organic matter might be beneficial in depleted loams.


Step 3

To remove your Heuchera plant from the container it was growing in, squeeze the container with your hands to loosen the rootball and then try to very gently lift and remove it from its container. Be careful not to damage your plant when removing it from its container! If the rootball is stuck in the container use some snips to cut the container away. After having removed the plant from the container, use your finger tips to gently loosen some feeder roots around the surface of the rootball. 


Step 4

Set your plant in the planting hole so that the top edge of the rootball is at or slightly above ground level.






Step 5

After setting your Heuchera in the planting hole, use one hand to hold the plant straight and your other hand to begin back-filling your soil mixture around the root ball, tamping as you go to remove air pockets. When you have filled the hole to the halfway point you can soak the soil. Then continue back-filling to the top edge of the rootball.


Step 6 

Next, deeply water the planting area, including the root ball, to a depth equal to the height of the root ball. 


Step 7

Spread a 1-inch layer of shredded or chipped wood mulch or pine straw around the planting area to conserve moisture and to suppress weed growth. As the mulch decomposes it will add vital nutrients to the soil that your plants will appreciate. Avoid using freshly chipped or shredded wood for mulch until it has cured in a pile for at least 6 months, a year is better. Also avoid placing or piling mulch directly against the base of your fern as this could cause the stems to rot.




Planting Heuchera Coral Bells in a Container


When growing in pots, Heuchera appreciate a moist but well-drained soil. Constantly soggy soil is a killer. We recommend using a quality potting mix in a container that has a drainage hole(s).  

Make sure to choose a container that is large enough to allow for 2 to 3 years of growth before shifting up to a larger size container. This might mean your planting pot would be 6-8 inches or more in width than the root ball of your plant. If you will be planting other plants in the same container with your Heuchera up the size of the container.

Container color will matter as well. Not only will you want to pick a color of container that goes well with the foliage color and flowers of your Heuchera, you'll also want to pick a container that matches the style of your home or other structures and other plants in the surrounding environment. 

Many nursery & garden centers offer a wide variety of containers to choose from. Before heading out to buy a container take pictures of your home and the surrounding environment. Doing so will help you to choose just the right color and style.


Container Planting Instructions


Step 1

Before filling your container with the soil mix, we recommend lining the bottom with shade cloth or a porous landscape fabric. This will keep the drain holes from becoming stopped up with soil. 


Step 2

To remove your Heuchera plant from the container it was growing in, squeeze the container with your hands to loosen the rootball and then try to very gently lift and remove it from its container. Be careful not to damage your plant when removing it from its container! If the rootball is stuck in the container use some snips to cut the container away. After having removed the plant from the container, use your finger tips to gently loosen some feeder roots around the surface of the rootball. 


Step 3

Pour a small amount of your soil mixture in the bottom of the container. Set the rootball of your plant in the container and make necessary adjustments by adding or removing some soil so that the top edge of the root ball will sit 1/2" to 1" below the rim of the container.




Step 4

Backfill with your potting soil around root ball, tamping as you go, until the level of potting soil is even with the top edge of root ball.


Step 5

Water thoroughly until water starts to drain from the holes in the bottom of the container. Add more potting mix if settling occurs during watering.


Step 6 (Optional)

Apply a 1/2" layer of bark chips or sphagnum moss to soil surface to help conserve moisture. 




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Happy Planting!

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