Want more color in the shade?

What can I plant to get more color in the shade?  This is a frequently asked question and one excellent answer is Heuchera (the ch is pronounced like k, so HEW-kuh-ruh).  Commonly called coral bells, the 50-something species in the genus Heuchera are US natives.  The coral bells found in the nursery trade are largely hybrids between just 4 of these species, or are hybrids with the closely related genus Tiarella (foamflower).  You will often see these designated as Heucherella.  Regardless of their origin, we love them for their colorful lobed foliage, ranging from darkest purples through reds and oranges, to lemon yellow.  Many also sport dark veining or splotches on the leaves.  Beyond the fantastic leaves they also flower, sending up delicate spikes of white, pink, or vivid coral blooms in spring or early summer.  As noted, they are shade lovers, but will tolerate morning sun.  Good drainage is important as wet soils can lead to crown rot.  Growing between 8” and 18”, they are great candidates for edging, the front of the border, or container plants.  The foliage lasts through winter, though some early spring cleanup keeps plants looking their best.  After 3 or 4 years they develop an almost woody stem which can be replanted with the leaf crown back at ground level to rejuvenate the plant.

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