Heucheras are shade-loving plants, native to the woodlands of North America. Grown for their foliage, their leaves come in a huge range of colours from red, purple, vivid green and even silver, and they bear attractive flowers in summer, too. Heucheras make excellent ground cover plants, and work well in winter pot displays. Members of the saxifrage family, heucheras are also known as coral bells and alumroot.
Heucheras are related to tiarellas, also known as foamflower, which have a different shaped leaf and ‘foam’-like flowers. Many breeders have crossed heucheras with tiarellas to produce hybrids known as ‘heucherellas’. Heucherellas have brightly coloured foliage. Like heucheras, they thrive in shade and work well as ground cover plants. Some have a trailing habit and can be grown in hanging baskets.
How to grow heucheras
Most heucheras do best in dappled shade. Plant them in moist but well-drained soil, or in a loam-base compost if growing in pots. In summer, feed fortnightly with a tomato feed and keep out of direct sun. Tidy the leaves in autumn as they can become tatty. Check pot-grown heucheras regularly for vine weevil grubs, as they are particularly susceptible to this pest.
More on growing heucheras:
- How to create a chrysanthemum, heuchera and carex container
- Skimmia, heuchera and cyclamen pot display
- Nandina, heuchera and berberis pot display
How to grow heucheras: jump links
- Planting heucheras
- Caring for heucheras
- Growing heucheras: pests and problem-solving
- Growing heucheras: buying advice
- Best heucheras to grow
- Best heucherellas to grow
Where to grow heucheras
Most heucheras require dappled shade to grow well, although some do best with a little more sun. Always check the label. Avoid deep shade as this is too much for them. Heucheras thrive in well-drained soil. If you have heavy clay, grow your heucheras in pots.
How to plant heucheras
Plant heucheras from May to September, at the same depth they were growing in their pot, firm well around the rootball and water well. In pots, use a loam-based compost. It’s a good idea to add a thick layer of gravel around pot-grown heucheras so the compost is completely covered. This not only conserves moisture but also prevents vine weevils from laying their eggs.
Caring for heucheras
Keep your heucheras out of direct sun. Water pot-grown heucheras regularly but make sure the water can drain from the pot. In summer, feed them fortnightly with tomato food. Tidy around the foliage and remove old leaves in autumn. After around five years, heuchera foliage stars to flatten down. Rejuvenate the plant by lifting and dividing it, using the divisions to propagate new plants.
Preparing heucheras for winter
Heucheras have shallow roots, which means they’re prone to ‘frost heaving’, where the plants are pushed out of the soil by developing ice. This results in the rootball sitting proud of the soil surface, where it can dry out and kill the plant. Add a thick layer of mulch around the base of the plant every autumn, to prevent this.
Growing heucheras: pests and problem solving
Vine weevils are the biggest problem for heucheras. The adults cut notches in the leaf edges, and the grubs eat the plant roots. Check your pot-grown heucheras regularly by gently tugging their stems. If they come away easily, empty the pot and remove any grubs you find (leave them as a treat for the birds). Then wash the roots, ensuring all traces of eggs and grubs are gone, and replant them. Add a thick layer of gravel over the compost, as this can help prevent vine weevils from laying eggs.
Growing heucheras: buying advice
- Always check the label – there’s no point in buying sun-loving heucheras if you intend to grow them in shade
- Choose from a variety of different lead colours. Some silver and dark-leaved heucheras work wonderfully together, while lime-green heucheras look vibrant and fresh
- Heucheras are available from a wide range of garden centres and nurseries, but you will find more choice at specialist nurseries
Where to buy heucheras
Best heucheras to grow
Heuchera ‘Mint Julep’
Heuchera ‘Mint Julep’ has bright lime-green leaves, which mature to a mint-green with prominent silver veining. White flowers are borne on short stems in summer.
Heuchera ‘Lime Marmalade’
Heuchera ‘Berry Smoothie’
Heuchera ‘Delta Dawn’
Heuchera ‘Plum Royale’
Gold-edged, orange-pink flowers mature to golden yellow with red veins. The cooler weather in autumn then brings on deeper leaf colours again. White flowers are borne on short stems in summer. Perfect for dappled shade and pots.
Heuchera ‘Georgia Peach’
Large, rounded silver-peach leaves. It grows well in sun or shade and bears white flowers in summer. It’s ideal for growing at the front of a mixed herbaceous border, and is also suited to growing in pots.
Heuchera ‘Chocolate Ruffles’
Exquisite chocolate coloured leaves with a rich burgundy underside. In summer, masses of creamy white flowers appear on tall stems. ‘Chocolate Ruffles’ is more drought tolerant than other heucheras, making it an ideal choice for growing in dry shade, such as beneath trees and shrubs.