Add year-round color to your garden with easy-care heuchera plant! Learn simple tips for growing these perennial plants with stunning foliage.

When I first started gardening, heuchera, or coral bells, quickly became a favorite. Their vibrant foliage and delicate flowers added a unique charm to my garden that I couldn’t resist. I remember planting my first Heuchera and being amazed at how it thrived with minimal care.

Not only is their foliage bold and colorful, but heucheras bloom with these pretty dainty bell-shaped flowers too.

If you’re looking for a plant that brings color and texture without demanding too much of your time, heuchera is a fantastic choice.

Have you grown them before? Learn how to grow heucheras with these simple tips.

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Close-up image of a growing heuchera plant's leaves covered in water droplets. The leaves exhibit various shades of reddish-brown with intricate veining, giving them a textured appearance. Peachberry Ice Coral Bells from Proven Winners
‘Peachberry Ice” Heuchera by Proven Winners and Walter’s Gardens

Heuchera Plant Guide

Heuchera, also known as coral bells, is a member of the Saxifragaceae family and native to North America. The common name, coral bells, refers to the plant’s bell-shaped flowers, while another common name, alumroot, refers to its medicinal properties. 

This group of herbaceous evergreen perennial plants is most known for its striking foliage and some varieties have multicolored or variegated leaves, adding to their visual appeal.

Their foliage ranges from greens to deep purples, and their tiny, bell-shaped flowers add a whimsical touch. I have a soft spot for the ‘Peachberry Ice’ variety—it’s stunning peach-colored leaves always draw compliments from visitors.

Coral bells produce delicate, bell-shaped flowers on tall stems but the plants generally range in size from small to medium depending on the specific cultivar and growing conditions. Their mature size could be about 12-18 inches tall and wide.

Coral Bells are known to grow well in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9. They may benefit from some winter protection, such as mulch or a layer of leaves in colder regions of these zones.

Heuchera plants work well in pollinator gardens. Their delicate, bell-shaped flowers attract various pollinators to your garden, including bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

  • Common Name: Hosta
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Hardiness Zone: 3-9
  • Light: Partial to full shade
  • Soil Requirements: Well-drained, rich, moist
  • Height: 1-3 feet
  • Width: 1-4 feet
  • Flower Color: White, lavender, purple
  • Foliage Color: Green, blue, variegated
  • Bloom Time: Summer
Front porch in fall with bistro table, fresh cut flowers, huecheras peachberry ice by proven winners and porch rockers
Front Porch in Fall with Heuchera in Pots

Why You Should Grow Coral Bells

There are plenty of reasons to consider adding heuchera plants to your garden:

  • Low Maintenance: Coral Bells is one of those “set it and forget it” plants. Once established, they require minimal care.
  • Year-Round Interest: These beauties are not just a one-season wonder. Their foliage stays vibrant and colorful throughout the year, making them perfect for all seasons.
  • Colorful Foliage: Huechera comes in a wide range of leaf colors, from deep purples and greens to silvers and bronzes, ensuring you can find the perfect hue for your garden.
  • Attracts Pollinators: Huechera’s delicate flowers are irresistible to pollinators like bees and butterflies, contributing to a healthy ecosystem.
  • Great Alternative to Chrysanthemums in Fall: While chrysanthemums are a go-to fall plant, you can get more longevity out of coral bells both in and out of the garden.

Growing Heuchera

Coral Bells have specific preferences when it comes to soil and sunlight conditions. Here’s what you need to know.

Heuchera Soil Requirements

Heuchera plants prefer well-draining soil that is not waterlogged. Amend heavy clay soils with organic matter, like compost and leaf mold, can help improve drainage. I remember struggling with an area in my garden with heavy clay soil initially, but adding compost and leaf mold made a world of difference.

Coral Bells generally thrive in soil with a pH level that is slightly acidic. Test your soil’s pH and adjust it if necessary.

Heuchera Sun Requirements

Coral Bells prefer a sun-to-part-shade location. While Heuchera can handle some sun, they thrive in part shade. My garden in zone 6a has a few shady spots where these plants flourish.

Some Huechera cultivars may tolerate more sun than others, so it’s a good idea to check the grower’s recommendations for the variety you’re planting.

    white front porch swing decorated for fall with huecheras and houseplants on vintage farmhouse porch
    Front Porch Swing in Fall

    Planting Heuchera

    If this is your first time planting coral bells, there are a few things to keep in mind. In general, space heucheras about about 12-18 inches apart to allow for proper air circulation. Then, dig a hole the same depth as the root ball and twice as wide. Place the plant in the hole and backfill it with garden soil. Water well and keep it hydrated until it establishes.

    Huechera Plant Care

    Once your Heuchera is in the ground, follow these essential care tips to keep them happy and healthy in your garden.

    Watering Heuchera

    Water newly planted heuchera regularly until they become established. But keep an eye on them because it’s important not to overwater them. How much you water will depend on the weather in your climate.

    The idea is to water regularly to keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy. During dry spells, provide extra water if necessary.

    Since I typically plant mine in spring or fall, I let nature do its thing because we get enough rain here and the temperatures are cooler. When they are established, reduce watering thoroughly to roughly once or twice a week depending on the weather in your climate.

    It is best to water in the early part of the day. Avoid watering coral bells later in the day or from above, as wet foliage can lead to fungal diseases. Watering at the base of the plant prevents water from splashing on the leaves and flowers.

    Mulching Coral Bells

    Apply a 2-4 inch layer of mulch around the base of the plant to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

    close up of copper tub found thrifting with fall garden plants -How to Plant a Fall Garden in a Flea Market Find

    Pruning Coral Bells

    Maintaining heucheras involves occasional pruning in spring to encourage new growth. I trim back any dead or damaged leaves to keep the plants looking their best. In late fall, I give them a tidy-up to prepare for winter. I remember a particularly harsh winter a few years back, but my heucheras bounced back beautifully in the spring.

    Here’s how to go about pruning Heuchera plants:

    • Use clean, sharp pruning shears or scissors to snip off any dead or damaged leaves or stems at their base. Make clean cuts to avoid causing additional stress to the plant.
    • While coral bells generally don’t require heavy pruning for shape, you can lightly trim or thin out the plant if it’s becoming overly dense or if you want to encourage better air circulation.
    • Collect the trimmed foliage and dispose of it in your compost pile or yard waste bin.

    Should Heuchera be cut back for winter?

    Heuchera typically does not require extensive pruning or cutting back for winter. In fact, I usually leave mine be and just prune any dead foliage off in the spring. But there are some maintenance steps you can take to help your plants through the colder months.

    As the Huechera plant goes dormant in the winter, it’s a good idea to remove any dead or decaying foliage. 

    Applying a layer of mulch around the base of your Heuchera plant can help protect the roots and keep the soil temperature more stable during winter. Be sure not to mound mulch against the crown of the plant, as this can lead to rot.

    While you can do some light pruning to remove dead foliage, avoid heavy pruning in the fall because it may stimulate new growth that can be vulnerable to winter cold. Heuchera typically benefits from cleaning up in the spring when new growth begins.

      Heuchera Fertilizing

      Coral bells do not need to be fertilized. Instead, focus on soil quality by amending it yearly with lots of organic matter. Amend the soil with compost, and leaf mold, then top it off with some fresh mulch. Over-fertilization can invite pest and disease problems so the only time I fertilize perennials is when they are planted in pots.

        flea market finds potted up with heucheras on the front porch with porch swing, fall pillows and cozy blanket in autumn

        Growing Heuchera in Pots

        Growing Coral Bells in containers is an excellent way to enjoy these beautiful perennials even if you have limited garden space. Here’s how to grow Heuchera in pots successfully:

        Choose a container that is at least 12 inches in diameter and has drainage holes. Use a well-draining potting mix specifically designed for container gardening. You can also mix your own using a combination of potting soil with leaf mold perlite or vermiculite for improved drainage.

        Fill the container with the potting mix, leaving a few inches at the top. Remove the heuchera plant from its nursery pot, gently loosen the roots and plant it in the container. Make sure it sits at the same depth it was in the nursery pot.

        Water the plant thoroughly after planting and place your container in a sunny to partial shade location. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. However, containers can dry out quickly, so monitor them, especially during hot weather. Water when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Use a drip irrigation system set on a timer to keep watering plants easier during the summer months.

        Fertilize potted Heucheras with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in the spring and perhaps again in mid-summer if it shows signs of nutrient deficiency. Because nutrients wash out of the soil each time you water it may be necessary to feed them. If you prefer to be more organic about it, apply compost and leaf mold to containers or feed them with compost tea.

        Trim any dead or damaged leaves as needed to maintain the plant’s appearance and encourage new growth.

        And every few years, consider repotting your Heuchera with fresh potting soil, compost, and leaf mold to ensure healthy growth. When you repot, I suggest dividing your heuchera it as well to keep the plant healthy.

          Winter Care

          To keep your coral bells thriving through the winter in pots, it’s important to choose a variety that can handle two zones colder than your hardiness zone. Thus, if you garden in zone 6, your plant needs to be able to handle zone 4 to survive the winter in a container.

          You can also try giving heucheras in pots some protection during the winter too. Move the container to a sheltered location, provide mulch around the base of the plant, and cover it with a breathable material like burlap to prevent frost damage.

          close up of huecheras planted in a thrift flip vintage stroller with chinese evergreen and anthurium houseplants on the porch in fall

          Heuchera Pests and Diseases

          While heucheras are generally hardy and low-maintenance, they sometimes experience problems with mealy bugs, powdery mildew, leaf spot, and rust.

          Coral Bells are often considered to be deer-resistant, but it’s important to note that even deer-resistant plants can still be damaged by deer if they are hungry enough. Heuchera’s resistance to deer is due to its textured and somewhat fuzzy foliage, which deer tend to find less appealing compared to other, more susceptible plants.

          Heuchera Propagation Methods

          Propagating coral cells is pretty easy to do and can be accomplished in a few ways.

          Dividing Heuchera Plant

          The best time to divide heuchera is in early spring or fall. If you’ve never divided a perennial before, it is pretty easy to do and really benefits the plant. Not to mention, you get more plants from doing it. Here’s how to divide coral bell plants.

          • Prepare the Plant: Choose a mature heuchera plant that has been growing for a few years. Carefully dig up the entire plant, including the root ball, using a garden fork or spade shovel.
          • Separate the Clumps: Separate the clumps of Heuchera into smaller sections. Each section should have healthy roots and several shoots or rosettes. You may be able to pull them apart with your hands, but I find it easier to split them with a spade shovel.
          • Trim and Replant: Trim any damaged or overly long roots and remove any dead or unhealthy foliage. Then, replant the divided sections in well-prepared, well-draining soil at the same depth they were previously growing. Space them apart as needed based on the specific variety’s mature size.
          • Water: Water the newly planted divisions thoroughly to help them establish.

          Leaf Cuttings

          Another method of propagation is via leaf cutting. I don’t usually do it this way as I prefer dividing them, but it is possible to do it this way.

          Take leaf cuttings in late spring or early summer. Dip it in rooting hormone, and place it in sterile media like peat moss and perlite. Cover with plastic wrap or a clear cover to keep it humid and place it in a bright, indirect light location.

          Keep the rooting medium consistently moist but not waterlogged. After several weeks, roots should develop. Then transplant cuttings into individual pots or directly into the garden.

          Seeding Heuchera Plants

          In addition to division and leaf cuttings, seeds can be sown in late winter if you have access to a greenhouse or other indoor growing space. I’d check with your local cooperative extension to see what they suggest for starting coral bells from seed as I’ve never done it before.

          To me, different heuchera varieties are pretty easy to find, so why waste indoor growing space and efforts to start them from seed?

          Propagation allows you to create new Coral Bell plants from an existing one, giving you more opportunities to enjoy these beautiful and low-maintenance perennials in your garden.

          front porch decorated for fall with porch swing, pillows and houseplants

          Why Heucheras Are Better Than Chrysanthemums in the Fall

          Heucheras are a fantastic alternative to the traditional fall favorite chrysanthemums. Here’s why.

          They are generally easier to grow, are more resilient, and can handle warmer climates. Unlike mums, which require meticulous deadheading and regular maintenance to thrive, heucheras are best known for their low-maintenance nature. I rarely do much with my coral bells except a light pruning in early spring to clean them up.

          These perennial plants are more forgiving, offering gardeners a hassle-free option for fall color because you can plant them when you are ready to decorate for fall and they will last without the extra work. I mean, have you ever bought chrysanthemums in late August or early September only to have them succumb because they dried out super fast in the heat?

          Coral bells establish quickly, and with their diverse array of foliage colors, from deep burgundy to vibrant greens, you get not only the classic fall feel but also year-round visual interest. Now, I’m not suggesting you don’t plant garden mums in fall. But to me, heucheras are a safer bet to get the fall feels earlier in the season.

          You can plant them in the landscape when the season is over and they’ll return the following year with ease. Yes, mums can be perennial too, but I’ve found them to be 50/50 with returning the following season.

          So to me, it’s better to plant perennials that will do the same kind of work without the additional effort.

          close up of pink garden mums

          There are numerous varieties of Coral Bells, each offering unique foliage colors, textures, and characteristics. Here are some popular varieties known for their beauty and garden appeal.

          • Dolce Peachberry Ice
          • Dolce Apple Twist
          • Dolce Appletini
          • Primo Black Pearl
          • Dolce Wildberry
          • Dolce Cherry Truffles
          • Dressed Up Evening Gown
          • Palace Purple
          • Lime Rickey
          • Caramel
          • Berry Smoothie
          • Obsidian
          • Georgia Peach
          • Midnight Rose
          • Electric Lime
          • Peppermint Spice
          close up of heuchera foliage that is peach colored - peachberry ice by proven winners
          ‘Peachberry Ice” Heuchera by Proven Winners and Walter’s Gardens

          Coral Bells FAQs

          Does Huechera come back every year?

          Yes, Huechera is a perennial plant, which means it comes back year after year. It is known for its ability to return and thrive in the garden for multiple growing seasons without the need for replanting. And because they return yearly, you get that color in the garden from their beautiful foliage all season long.

          When is the best time to prune Coral Bells?

          The best time to prune Huechera is in the spring, preferably in early to mid-spring. Pruning at this time allows you to remove winter damage and promote new growth.

          Does Heuchera like the sun or shade?

          Coral Bells generally prefer to grow in the sun to partial shade. I have a few in almost full sun, but most of my heuchera plants are in partial shade and seem to really love it there. However, the ideal lighting conditions for Heuchera can vary depending on your local climate, so you might need to experiment with it a little in your garden.

          Can coral bells thrive in full shade?

          Yes, heuchera can thrive in full shade. Many coral bell varieties are well-suited for growing in areas with limited or dappled sunlight.

          While heucheras are grown for their striking foliage it can be a standout feature among other shade-tolerant plants. In more shade, you may experience fewer or smaller blooms and less growth as compared to Huechera plants in partial shade.

          While they can produce delicate, bell-shaped flowers, these are often not as prolific as the vibrant foliage. I have some planted in my backyard garden where it is a bit shaded and they are not as full as those grown in partial shade.

          But, at the end of the day, the variety matters because they may have different degrees of shade tolerance. Some may perform better in full shade than others, so it’s a good idea to select varieties that are well-suited for the light conditions you have.

          close up of vintage copper boiling pot with fall garden flowers in the garden -How to Plant a Fall Garden in a Flea Market Find
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          Final Thoughts About Growing Heuchera

          In closing, growing heuchera (coral bells) is a rewarding experience for gardeners of all skill levels. These versatile perennials offer stunning foliage in a wide array of colors and textures, making them a captivating addition to any landscape. With proper care and attention to their specific needs, heuchera will thrive and provide years of enjoyment.

          Remember, the key to success with heuchera lies in providing well-draining soil, adequate moisture, and partial shade. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, these vibrant perennials are sure to become a cherished part of your garden.

          Are you growing coral bells? If so, do you have a favorite variety? I would love to know more in the comments below.

          To learn more about growing heuchera please read these university extension articles:

          If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear! And feel free to share this post with anyone you think would find it helpful too.

          To drill down on more beginner gardening techniques and tips, please read these posts:

          Thank you for visiting the blog today!

          Enjoy your day! xo

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          close up of huechera (coral bells)

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          Heuchera centerpiece in the farmhouse kitchen
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