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How to Care for Heuchera

Heuchera, known as coral bells, provides the best of both worlds. Gorgeous, variegated foliage in every description of rich colors, and pretty bell-shaped flowers on graceful, summer-blooming spikes are the gift of these easy-to-cultivate perennials.

Choose a site with well-drained soil. The heuchera dislikes wet roots. Full sun to part shade is preferable but will vary depending on the specific cultivar.

Prepare the site by working the soil to a depth of 12 inches. Amend with organic matter to provide nutrients for the coral bells.

Dig a hole deep enough to accommodate the roots with the crown just below the soil line. Heucheras must have crown-to-soil contact in order to grow properly.

Plant huecheras with the crown just below soil level and firm around the plant.

Fertilize with a balanced perennial fertilizer in spring to encourage active growth and summer blooms.

Mulch around heuchera prior to winter after the growing season to protect the plant from frost.

Dig and divide heuchera every few years to create new plants and revive the soil for new growth. Use a shovel to dig carefully around the root system and lift from the ground. Amend the soil with compost. Divide the mature plant, ensuring that each crown piece has roots attached to it, and replant each division 1 to 2 feet apart to allow for mature growth.

Growing Habits Of Heuchera

Heuchera grows in rounded clumps 8 to 12 inches high and about 18 inches wide. The planting medium should be humus rich and evenly moist and, most importantly, well draining; the plants can die if they get waterlogged. It needs to be fertilized only once, in early spring, with an all-purpose plant food. Heuchera is resistant to deer and most insect pests, though heuchera rust can be a problem in humid conditions at temperatures of 45 to 50 degrees F. The remedy is an antifungal spray containing copper. Plant heuchera with other shade-loving perennials such as astilbe, iris and bleeding heart. This is best done in early fall.

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