Coral Bells: Shaded Foliage with Intense Color

Coral Bells, also known as Heuchera, is a native U.S. plant that requires the bare minimum of attention to create year-round interest in the shade garden. With intense color, stunning foliage, long-lasting flowers, and the ability to grow in even the most arid, dry climates, Coral Bells are a beautiful addition to any yard. 

The clumping mounds of Coral Bells keep compact between 6-18” tall while pushing up 12-24” flower stalks and large leaves in a wide array of colors from greens and yellows to intense purples and reds. This is a great perennial for gardens in zones 3-9 and can be planted under taller perennials or shrubs, or even planted under trees in wooded areas for a pop of contrasting color.

Coral Bells for Hard-to-Reach Areas

Since Coral Bells need minimal care and intervention they can serve a wider number of purposes than other perennials. Plant them along steeply sloped areas, spacing them about 3’ apart, so they can spread and serve as erosion control. Plant under roses and trees to act as a groundcover. Or plant in hard-to-reach locations of your garden since they won’t require much attention from you once planted. This self-sustaining perennial is happy to be left alone to do its job in peace. 

Planting and Care

When planting Coral Bells, dig a hole the same depth and width as the nursery pot, insert the plant, and then pack in the dirt around it. Be sure to keep the top of the root ball close to the surface of the soil. Water till a large puddle forms and let it slowly soak in. Coral Bells will perform best in consistently moist but not soaking wet soil. 

Coral Bells also do well in pots. Use a well-draining potting soil and plant your new perennial with the root ball right at the surface line of the soil. Pay attention to watering the plant well until it is fully established and keep the soil moist. If the leaves begin to yellow, your plant has received too much water and needs to dry out.

Clip off dead or dry leaves and spent blooms often to encourage a new flush of flowers. Coral Bells don’t need fertilizer but do appreciate some compost in the early spring for a little boost. Plants in pots will need a soil refresh every once in a while to add back in nutrients that may have been used up or washed out during the previous growing season. 

Coral Bells can be divided in the spring every 3-4 years. This will help extend the life of this plant’s relatively short lifespan and give you even more plants for your garden. Dig up the original plant and separate the clumps bringing both roots and foliage with each section. Replant as usual. Discard any woody sections of the plant that are no longer producing fresh growth.

Our favorites this season are: Berry Smoothie, Black Taffeta, Glitter, Marmalade, and Midnight Rose.