Tried and True – heucheras

Heucheras - burgundy and lime shades

Heucheras - burgundy and lime shades

• Widely available in garden centres.
• Evergreen and generally hardy.
• Interesting range of colours and foliage markings.

Heucheras have gone through something resembling a makeover in recent years, thanks mainly to American plant breeders, and are now a stock line in every garden centre. I have never heard them go under a common name in this country, but they are the clumping perennials with frilly, maple-shaped leaves often with mottled or frosted markings. They do flower but the tiny blooms are secondary to the wonderful foliage. Being native to North America, heucheras are reasonably hardy, even though they are evergreen. It was the lovely burgundy and purple shades which made most of us take notice of this plant genus here. Since then there have been a range of amber, gold and almost ginger shades as well and there is a lovely little lime green.

Heucheras in autumn tones

Heucheras in autumn tones

It took me a while to learn how to grow heucheras successfully. It was a little irritating to admire them in other people’s gardens and to have their owners smile smugly and say that they had no difficulty with them, all the while seeing my own plants get smaller, not larger. The secret, which they did not tell me at the time, is that heucheras are not a perennial that you can plant and leave for years. They thrive on being lifted and divided regularly (late winter to early spring is the best time for this) and replanted in well cultivated soil with plenty of humus added. I also find they do better in a colder, open area of the garden where they get plenty of light but they are not baked in the summer sun. In good conditions, the divisions reward you by making satisfyingly big clumps within the season with foliage which keeps its colour well and is generally untroubled by pests and diseases.

1 thought on “Tried and True – heucheras

  1. Sarah

    I always knew Heucheras as Coral Bells. In fact when I went looking on when to subdivide them, one of my gardening books doesn’t even list them as ‘Heucheras’ in the index, it’s Coral Bells!

Comments are closed.