Coral bells, popular perennial plants also known as heuchera, produce bell-shaped flowers in shades of coral, salmon, red, pink or white, depending on variety. Prized for their blossoms, attractive foliage and adaptability, coral bells thrive in a wide range of growing conditions. The low-growing plant only reaches 12 to 18 inches in height with an equal spread, which makes it ideal for use as a ground cover, particularly in shady areas of the garden. Hardy in zones 3 through 9, coral bells grow in most areas of the United States with only minimal care.
Plant coral bells during spring as soon as the soil has warmed to a workable temperature. Choose a location that receives four to six hours of sunlight each day, as the plants thrive with periods of bright, direct sunlight. Space additional coral bells 12 to 14 inches apart.
Water plants once every seven days during the first month of growth to establish the root system. Decrease the frequency of watering thereafter to once every 10 days, allowing the soil to dry slightly between each application.
Fertilize by spreading a 2-inch layer of organic compost around the plants twice per year, once in spring and again in fall. Allow the compost to remain until it decomposes entirely. Allow about 3 inches of space between the compost and the crown of the plant.
Apply a 3-inch layer of mulch over the soil around coral bells during fall, just before the first frost of the season, to insulate the ground and prevent the soil from heaving. Remove the mulch during early spring before active growth resumes.
Prune coral bells once per year during early spring. Use pruning shears to clip off any foliage that was damaged by the cold weather to improve appearance and help the plant conserve nutrients. Pinch off spent flowers to prolong blooming if desired.
Things You Will Need
- Organic compost
- Pruning shears
- Use a heavy mulch for winter protection, such as evergreen boughs or wood chips.