Coral bells (Heuchera) are herbaceous perennial flowering plants that are indigenous to regions throughout North America. They are upright growing mounded plants that have heart-shaped hairy leaves and produce bell-shaped flowers that come in pink, red, purple and white. Coral bells are prolific blooming plants that are known for attracting hummingbirds and bees. Plan on starting coral bells from seed in March or April.
Starting Coral Bell Seeds
Dampen a high-quality seed starting mix that contains vermiculite or perlite until it is well moistened.
Fill up planting packs with the seed raising mix until each of the cells is full to within half an inch of the top. Pack the mix down firmly using your fingers or the back of a metal spoon.
Place the coral bell seeds out onto a sheet of white paper. The seeds are very small, so you might want to use a pair of tweezers to pick them up.
Plant between two and three coral bell seeds in each of the cells in the planting packs. Press the seeds into the surface of the soil gently using the back of the spoon. This will create good soil-to-seed contact and ensure the seeds will not be displaced during watering.
Spread a layer of clear plastic wrap loosely over each of the planting packs.
Place the planting packs in a place that maintains a temperature between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep them near a good source of indirect light to provide approximately eight to 10 hours of light daily. The soil in the packs should be consistently moist, but not dripping wet. Germination of coral bells can be sporadic, beginning in as few as 10 days or taking as long as two months.
Remove the plastic wrap once the seeds begin germinating. Keep the seedlings near the strong source of light, and maintain moisture until the seedlings are large enough to transplant into their permanent location outside. They can be transplanted when they are two to three inches tall.
Transplanting Coral Bells
Choose a planting site for the coral bells that is in full sun to light shade. In hotter climates, it's recommended to plant coral bells in light shade, as suggested by the National Gardening Association.
Turn over the soil in the planting site to a depth of between 12 and 15 inches, and mix into the soil a two- to four-inch layer of organic matter. You can use aged manure, dehydrated plant based compost, peat moss or leaf mold. Coral bells require good draining soil that is rich in organic matter.
Dig planting holes between one and two feet apart, depending on the variety of coral bells you are growing. Each hole should be twice the width of a cell in a planting pack and approximately the same depth.
Pop out a coral bell seedling from a cell in the planting pack using your thumb and index finger. Carefully place the seedling into a previously dug planting hole. Scoop in soil in and around the seedling until the planting hole is filled with soil.
Water each of the coral bell seedlings thoroughly, using approximately one quart of water per plant.
Spread a 1 to 1 1/2 inch layer of dehydrated compost, followed by a two-inch layer of pine bark, grass clippings or straw for mulch around each coral bell plant. Plan on doing this every spring.
Things You Will Need
- Coral bells seeds
- Planting packs
- Seed raising mix
- Plastic wrap
- Soil amendment
- In early spring (late February through March) remove all dead foliage from the coral bells.
- Plan on watering coral bell plants throughout the summer if rainfall is less than one inch per week. Water the coral bells when the soil at a depth of two to three inches feels dry to the touch.
- To encourage more blossoms, remove all faded and dead blossoms.