Coral Bells Care: How to Grow and Care for These Perennial

HomeHow ToCare GuideCoral Bells Care: How to Grow and Care for These Perennial

Author:

Published:

Coral Bells, or Heuchera, originate from North America, where they thrive in woodland and mountainous regions. They are characterized by their attractive, scalloped leaves that come in an array of colors, including deep burgundy, vibrant green, and silvery hues. The plant forms neat clumps and produces slender stems topped with small, bell-shaped flowers. The tiny flowers, while not as showy as the foliage, attract pollinators like hummingbirds and butterflies, making them an excellent addition to any garden.

Their versatility and stunning appearance make them a favorite among both novice and experienced gardeners. Let’s dive into the fascinating world of Coral Bells and learn how to grow and care for these perennial beauties.

  • Botanical Name: Heuchera spp.
  • Common Name: Coral bells, alumroot, rock geranium
  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Family: Saxifragaceae
  • Height: Typically 8–18 inches
  • Foliage: Rounded, lobed, hairy, evergreen or semi-evergreen
  • Bloom Time: Spring to summer
  • Climate: Prefers temperate regions
  • Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full sun
  • Soil Requirements: Rich, moist but well-drained
  • Hardiness Zones: 4a–9a
  • Flowering: Small bell-shaped flowers on tall stems
  • Seasonal Features: Foliage color changes with seasons
  • Special Features: Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies
  • Toxicity: Generally non-toxic

How to Care for Coral Bells

Water

Coral Bells prefer consistently moist soil, but it’s crucial to avoid waterlogging. Water them when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. During dry spells, they may need more frequent watering, especially if they’re in more sun-exposed areas.

Sunlight

These plants enjoy partial shade, particularly in warmer climates. If they are in full sun, their foliage color may fade, and the leaves can scorch. In cooler climates, some varieties can tolerate more sun, provided they get enough water.

Fertilizer

Feed Coral Bells with compost or a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in the spring to encourage lush foliage and vibrant blooms. Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can lead to excessive leaf growth at the expense of flowers.

Soil

Heuchera thrives in humus-rich, well-drained soil with a neutral to slightly acidic pH. Good drainage is essential to prevent root rot, especially in shaded areas where moisture can linger.

Prune

After flowering, cut back the entire flower stalk to direct the plant’s energy into growing more leaves. If the leaves become ragged, especially after winter, trim them back to encourage fresh growth.

Temperature & Humidity

Coral Bells are quite adaptable and can tolerate a wide range of temperatures and humidity levels. However, they prefer cooler conditions and may need extra care during hot, dry periods.

Container

They make excellent container plants due to their compact size and attractive foliage. Ensure the container has good drainage to prevent water from pooling at the bottom.

Potting and Repotting

Pot or repot Coral Bells in the spring or fall. Choose a container with drainage holes and use well-draining potting soil to give them the best start.

Overwintering

In colder zones, apply a layer of mulch around the base of the plant to protect it during the winter months. This helps to insulate the roots and retain moisture.

Where to Plant Coral Bells

Coral bells thrive in partially shaded areas where they can receive morning sunlight and afternoon shade. They prefer well-draining soil rich in organic matter. An ideal spot is under the canopy of open-branched trees or on the north side of a building.

When and How to Plant Coral Bells

The best time to plant coral bells is in spring or fall when the weather is cool. This allows them to establish roots without the stress of extreme heat. Plant them at the same depth they were in their nursery pot and space them about 12 to 18 inches apart to give them room to grow.

Planting Steps

  1. Loosen the soil to a depth of 12-15 inches and mix in organic matter.
  2. Dig a hole that is twice the width and the same depth as the plant’s root ball.
  3. Place the plant in the hole, ensuring that the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface.
  4. Fill the hole with soil and gently firm it around the base of the plant.
  5. Water thoroughly after planting to settle the soil and eliminate air pockets.

Types of Coral Bells

There’s a wide variety of coral bells to choose from, each with its unique leaf color, ranging from lime green to deep burgundy.

  • Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’: Known for its deep purple leaves, this variety adds a dramatic touch to the garden.
  • Heuchera ‘Lime Rickey’: This variety features bright lime-green leaves that light up shady areas.
  • Heuchera ‘Caramel’: With its caramel-colored leaves, this variety brings warmth and richness to garden borders.
  • Heuchera ‘Obsidian’: The glossy, near-black foliage of this variety creates a striking contrast in mixed plantings.

How to Propagate Coral Bells

Division

Division is the simplest method to propagate Coral Bells and is best done in the spring or fall. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Water your Coral Bells thoroughly a day before you plan to divide them to ensure they are hydrated.
  2. Carefully dig around the plant and lift it from the ground, trying to keep as much of the root system intact as possible.
  3. Gently tease apart the root ball into smaller sections, each with several shoots and a healthy root system.
  4. Plant each new section at the same depth it was growing before and water well.

Stem Cuttings

Stem cuttings are another effective way to propagate Coral Bells, especially for varieties that do not form clumps. Here’s the step-by-step process:

  1. Choose a healthy stem with a few leaves and cut it just below a leaf node.
  2. Remove the lower leaves, leaving only a few at the top.
  3. Dip the cut end into rooting hormone to encourage root development.
  4. Insert the cutting into a well-draining potting mix, ensuring the cut end is buried and the leaves are above the soil surface.
  5. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged, and cover it with plastic to maintain humidity.

How to Get Coral Bells to Bloom

While coral bells are primarily grown for their foliage, they do bloom. To encourage flowering, ensure they have adequate sunlight and fertilize them in spring with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer. Deadheading spent flowers can also promote a second bloom.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Coral bells are relatively pest-free, but keep an eye out for aphids and foliar nematodes. Diseases like rust and powdery mildew can occur, especially in humid conditions. Ensure good air circulation and avoid overhead watering to prevent these issues.

Coral Bells Q&A

What are The Benefits of Coral Bells?

Coral Bells offer aesthetic appeal with their vibrant foliage and delicate flowers. They attract pollinators and are versatile in various garden settings. Additionally, they are low-maintenance and hardy in a wide range of climates.

What Do Coral Bells Symbolize?

Coral Bells symbolize delicacy and elegance due to their dainty flowers and intricate foliage. They also represent resilience, as they can thrive in diverse conditions.

Are Coral Bells Fragrant?

While Coral Bells are not typically known for their fragrance, their flowers do attract pollinators like hummingbirds and bees.

How Do You Identify Coral Bells?

Coral Bells can be identified by their distinctive foliage, which comes in a variety of colors and patterns. Their small, bell-shaped flowers on tall spikes are also characteristic.

What to Pair with Coral Bells?

Coral Bells pair well with other shade-loving plants such as hostas, ferns, astilbes, and bleeding hearts. They also make excellent companions to spring bulbs and ground covers.

Let us help you

Our most reliable information, advice, tips & tricks for you and your garden

You agree to our privacy policy and to receive emails from Flower Know How which you can unsubscribe from at any time.

Hello nature

Bring your garden inside your home!

Read More

You Might Also Like

Other Articles

More From Flower Know How