Wednesday, April 25, 2012

That's one Amazing Looking Leaf!

Many people would think that a plant identification marker that reads "insignificant rose pink flowers" might make a gardener dismiss that plant altogether. After all, aren't beautiful blooms what we gardeners covet most? 

Of course, the opposite is true! Experienced gardeners soon realize that flowers are fleeting, but foliage is in the garden for the long haul. And attractive foliage not only provides color, it can also add interesting texture and form.

While some perennials are old friends, Heuchera and I are still getting to know one another. 

In recent years, the garden Heuchera that we know as commonly as Coral Bells has been enjoying frenzied hybridization and can now be found in an amazing array of colors. The new hybrids are often expensive and I have done my best to resist them, but their fantastic leaves never fail to catch my eye as I stroll down the isles of my favourite nursery. 

Adding to temptation, their tall stocks of bell-shaped flowers always seem to nod and wave at me, "Hello, you there! Come over here and admire us. Aren't we just so delicate and pretty? Forget your resolve not to spend too much money. We so want to go home with you!"

'Purple Petticoats' in my front garden.

Here is what I have learned about Heuchera so far. 

Soundly in their favour, is the fact that Heuchera form neat round mounds. Most bloom in spring or early summer, but there are late blooming varieties as well. 

Not all Heuchera have the same light conditions and so you really need to pay attention to the recommendations on your plant markers. (I learned this the hard way!) Some like full sun to part shade, while others prefer part shade to full shade. All varieties like a bit of afternoon shade and somewhat moist, well-drained soil enriched with some organic matter.

In my garden, I find that frost tends to heave Heuchera out of the ground over the winter. I have read various techniques for dealing this. One school of thought recommends gently pushing them back into the earth, the other recommends re-plating them. If you have any thoughts on this, I'd love to hear them.

Let's take a look at some of the varieties available, shall we?

Up close and personal with Heuchera 'Lime Marmalade'

Heuchera 'Lime Marmalade' has ruffles lime colored leaves and a large mounding habit. 
Part shade to shade. 25 cm tall

 'Berry Marmalade' has large ruffles, deep-purple-black, leathery leaves with a silvery vein. Height 30 cm. Drought tolerant. Full sun to part shade. Insignificant rose pink flowers.

 Similar looking, Heuchera 'Dolce Blackcurrent' as dramatic two-tones leaf of bold purple with sterling 
silver accents. Height 35 cm. Sun to part shade.

Heuchera 'Ginger Peach' has large crimped and crinkled leaves that are a blend of apricot and rose, with bronze highlights.  Height 40-45 cm and small ivory flowers. Full sun to part shade.

The leaves of Heuchera 'Encore' start out with a deep, rose-purple color that have a light silvering on top, darker veins and reddish-purple undersides. They mature to a lighter rose, with a heavy silver overlay and smoky purple veins. White flowers June to July. Height 30 cm. Part to full shade.

Heuchera 'Marmalade' has foliage ranging in color from umber to deep sienna. Red-brown flowers. Sun to part shade. 40 cm tall. 

Heuchera 'Sashay' has cut, ruffles leaves that are green on top and burgundy underneath.  Full sun to part shade in moist well drained soil. It is an award of Garden Merit winner.

Heuchera 'Midas Touch' has ruffled and fluted peach and gold foliage. Part shade to shade.

I am going to end this post, with a few planting strategies that I admired in local gardens last summer. Idea 1: Plant a single color en masse. 

Close-up of Heuchera 'Obsidian'

The Ruttle Garden, Brampton, ON

Idea 2: Plant heuchera in a row at the front of a border.

Here the tiny white flowers of 'Lime Rickey' play off the dark burgundy of the heuchera behind it. 'Lime Rickey' has chartreuse leaves in spring that turn lemon-lime in summer.

Looking back the other way, the dark stems and rose flowers of this burgundy heurchera (apologies, I don't know the name of the burgundy variety in this case) standout beautifully on the background of vivid green of 'Lime Rickey'. 

The Spragette Garden, Brampton, ON.

Idea 3: Mix them in with other perennials near the front of a border.

Here pink astilbe (in the center) is the perfect counterpoint for the red Coral Bells and the fine flowers of the heucheras behind it.

A closer view of one of the Heuchera and a purple campanula. I think that this one is 
Heuchera 'Silver Shadows'.

The leaves of these dark burgundy heuchera (lower right corner) add drama to this late fall planting at Edwards Gardens in Toronto.

One final idea: Incorporate Heuchera in a container planting where you can appreciate those colorful leaves up close. Here Heuchera 'Lime Marmalade' is seen with the deep pink flowers of a Bleeding Heart peeking through. Lamium 'Anne Greenway' in the foreground.

 I am linking this post to Garden Walk Garden Talk's W4W. This Wednesday's word is 'Inspiration'. Color and texture are big sources of inspiration for me and heuchera is one perennial that has both in spades. Included in this post are several planting ideas that I hope will serve as inspiration for adding heuchera to your garden. 
To see other inspired posts, please click the link: Garden Walk Garden Talk


  1. So very lovely - as your pics always are! :-)

  2. Big fan of interesting foilage.

    Each year I keep meaning grow some of the brighter varieties of Heuchera.

    I think Heuchera 'Lime Marmalade' would look great with the Heuchera 'Kimono' I grow. Then again the picture of H. 'Sliver shadows' looks great too.

    I feel a shopping frenzy coming on.


  3. As you know Jennifer I love the foliage of plant as much as the flowers itself. Fantastic variety's of the Heuchera I ever have seen before. A great post. Have a nice evening

  4. I think all the different kinds of heuchera are soooooo beautiful. I just want them all...:-)


  5. Beautiful post ! I love all the flowers here, they look so uncommon and fragile and they are so tiny yet beautiful .
    They look like as if small droplets of water is bursting forth from a fountain!
    Love the green leaves too, they are refreshing to look at in this summer.
    Have a nice day,

  6. A gorgeous profile of heucheras, and you only touched on a few of the many many varieties (My own favorite is Midnight Rose, dark wine speckled with hot pink, the whole plant sparkles).

    Your photos make them look so good.... some of the darker leaved heucheras look like candy!

  7. I fell in love with Heucheras a few years ago, and I can't stop adding a few more each year. I seem to be drawn in, too, by their luscious-sounding names:) Although their foliage is their main attraction, I enjoy the blooms, too. Your photos of their blooms are wonderful--I have tried and tried without much success to do this.

    I've found that Heucheras work well as an accent plant in a container, and then I plant them in the garden in the fall--saving me the cost of an annual that would just be thrown out. You have some beauties here I haven't seen yet; I love 'Marmalade.' Something tells me there will be a few of these in my shopping cart againg this spring:)

  8. What a wonderful selection to tempt us all.We already have a few here, I find them so useful in the woodland for interest in the summer when the spring bulbs have finished. But also have some in more sunny borders as well where they contrast with everything around them. Interesting foliage is so important in the garden and contributes just as much, if not more,than the flowers.

  9. This is one of my favorites. I keep adding more and more to my garden. I have found in my climate they don't like wet feet. They are evergreen in my zone which is definitely a bonus. I love the combinations you showed with the different varieties of Heuchera. I love the lime green with the deep purple.

  10. Lovely photos and the information is so useful. You're right about the light requirements of the heuchera. Although I find with most of them that part shade seems to work best - many of the more delicate and subtle colours are lost in full sun.

    Just planted heuchera "Midnight Rose" = spectacular glossy deep purple foliage with bright pink dots on the leaves. Can't wait for it to fill in.

    One tip I've learned is that once they mature, splitting is required to continue the mounding effect. Otherwise they tend to get straggly looking.

    Enjoy these beauties in your garden.

  11. Great photos of a great plant! Many of the new Heucheras are crosses with the Villosa strain. I have the orignial Villosa and it is quite large, not such a beautiful color but the flowers are stunning. I am finding that some of the new ones are not all totally hardy in our colder climate, one of these is Georgia Peach (lost two of them). I love the ones that maintain their color over the winter like Southern Comfort, Carmel and I am sure others.


  12. these are all so lovely and you presented them in such a wonderful way with these glorious photos. My favorite is the chartreuse varities ~ beautiful!

  13. Hermosas imágenes, me encanta el detalle de las texturas y los colores!!.Un abrazo.

  14. Such a favourite of mine & I have no room for them in my latest garden. Guess I'll have to content myself with your photos...

  15. These plants are alien with us in the tropics, but I agree with you fully. Even just the leaves alone are awesome and blends very well with anything. When the flower comes, they are more beautiful. And your photos added more beauty to their drama, their existence fully justified. thank you.

  16. I just have 2 sorts of Heuchera, a spring-flowering one and a summer-flowering one. The later has especially beautiful leaves, although it's not one of the fancy colored ones. So many of them have delicious sounding names. Your studies are beautiful. I love the shot of 'Purple Petticoats'!

  17. I used to have a Heuchera that was 'Cherries Jubilee'-- bright red little blooms. I am always amazed at all the varieties that are out there, seems like each year there is a new one. I haven't heard of all the ones you shared. Maybe there are some that are more cold hardy and some that can handle hot humid summers. I have a couple native Heuchera growing in my garden!

  18. VERY interesting post! I just have one, and I'll have to go and check which type of Heuchera it is. It pushed itself out over the winter as well. I actually have two mounds of it, so I dug one up last week, divided it to give half to my friend, and replanted the other half. I'd never done it before, so I'm waiting to see how it adjusts before I do the same with the other one. I really like mine, because it has creamy white stalks and pink stalks coming out from the same mound.

  19. I am a heuchera nut Jennifer along with the heucherella to tiarella .. there are so many amazing varieties of each that you could make gardens with them exclusively .. but I'm afraid I love so much of so many other perennials they have to be mixed in all over the garden .. and most times I do cut the flowers off because it is the foliage I am after .. a great versatile garden beauty !
    PS .. pictures are gorgeous !

  20. I have come to love the foliage of heuchera. They just come in so many wonderful colors and textures any more. What a wonderful display they make in a border. Great pictures Jennifer.

  21. Jennifer, I love this post! Great pictures! Beautiful collection of plants!
    Sometimes, my plants get leggy over the winter. I'll try to add some soil around them.

  22. One mi się bardzo podobają, właśnie ze względu na liście, ale delikatne kwiatki też lubię. Mam ich kilka w swoim ogródku i najbardziej mi odpowiadają posadzone wśród innych kwiatów.Pozdrawiam.
    One I really like, precisely because of the list, but I also like delicate flowers. I have several of them in his garden and planted the most suit me among other flowers. I greet and thank you for your visit.

  23. A very nice selection, Jennifer. I have a hard time growing Heuchera over time in gardens around here. You are right about them heaving, it is a common problem. They are wonderful for the color and texture. I know the flowers are pretty and tiny, but I usually, like Hosta, remove them. Very beautiful photos of the gardens and plants.

  24. Oh, I love heucheras. I love the leaves, their tiny little flowers, and the variety is truly amazing. Unfortunately, they don't grow here. I had heard that and had to try myself (more than once!), and it's true. :( But your photos are just beautiful and show why these are such a popular plant.

  25. I absolutely love the dainty flowers! They remind me of our gulf penstemon. I can see why the heucheras would be irresistible - they are so very pretty.

  26. So many colours! These plants have so much going for them. I actually really like the tiny sprays of flowers in addition to the lovely coloured leaves.

  27. Oh wow their foliage is certainly eye-catching and the dainty flower so cute remind you of fairies.

  28. Beautiful foliage and photographs, Jennifer. Endless possibilities for combinations, too. One in my garden is nature's design: heucheras and Japanese painted ferns naturalizing together.

  29. What amazing photos of an amazing plant. I too design with foliage rather than flowers. I do not have heucheras in my garden but I will adding them this year.

  30. I was not very familiar with heuchera before I started this garden about eight years ago. And I love it! It is a plant that provides my garden with constant color and texture...and I am grateful. From time to time, I add another variety to color my garden because there are so many lovely varieties. Lovely post!

  31. Oh my I LOVE all of those heuchera! I have just a few varieties but definitely want to try more. Strangely, I especially like the green ones, which seems dull but they come in such lovely bright green shades. My only problem with them so far is that I lose some in harsher winters. Your photos of the delicate flowers are stunning!

  32. Jennifer, this is such a beautiful series of images!
    There is definitely nothing insignificant about those little flowers in the first image!
    I love them.
    So wonderfully delicate.
    Loving that gorgeous purple leaf too.
    You have a wonderful weekend!

  33. Brilliant post! I love Heuchera and some grow surprising well in my climate as long as they are in shade. I find it difficult to source many of the newer cultivars but I'm always happy to try them. If any gardeners have found a good way to propagate I’d love to hear from you. Christina PS thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.

  34. What an interesting post and some lovely photos. Thankyou for your recent browse around my blogs and for commenting. It is not as difficult to maintian them as it sounds as each one I for a specific interest. Not around much at the moment as busy with real life, but hope you will keep in touch.

  35. Awesome post Jennifer. I picked up a few last summer at the local CT end of season sale and thought I would give them a home. Wow! I was amazed at how well they held their leaves during the icey winter. The colours were such a treat to see in March. I'm definitely expanding my collection. Thank you !

  36. I am a renewed Heuchera fan ~ had two for years that must not have been situated correctly because they never did anything. I should have moved them but didn't so I couldn't understand all the fuss. Lovin' all the new colors tho so I'm adding as many as I can find/afford. Hope to have a display like shown in your photos!
    p.s. I don't have any experience with Euphorbia 'fireglow' ~ it sounds like you are leaning toward trying again?!

    1. Kathleen, It is tempting, but I have been burned by too many invasive plants. Unless I hear glowing reports about Euphorbia 'fireglow' from several gardeners, I will not give it another try.


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