Coralbells are the coleus of the perennial world. These wonderful plants used to come in a few drab colors, with small and insignificant blooms. Now they come in a whole rainbow of colors, with some varieties grown specifically for their masses of flowers. They are wonderful in shade and add pops of color to any garden setting. And they are extremely low maintenance as well!
Garden Plans For Coralbells
With such a broad palette of colors to choose from, there is almost no end to the combinations you can make with coralbells. That, plus their adaptability to being both in-ground and container plants, makes this a truly versatile plant. It seems like every year there are new varieties of coralbells on the market. With improved colors, bigger leaves, brighter flowers, and new patterns, there is always something new to try with coralbells.
Originally, most research on coralbells focused on creating new and unique foliage colors and patterns. That avenue has been flushed out, and botanical work is now focused on other attributes, like larger and more floriferous blooms. In the near future, there may be a rainbow of coralbells that also boast masses of blooms as well!
Coralbells Care Must-Knows
Coralbells are extremely easy to grow plants, as long as they don't stay too wet. Many species of coralbells are native to rocky cliffs and places that have very sharp drainage, so they don't like sitting in too much water. Depending on the variety, some coralbells can perform well in sun or shade, while others may burn in too much sun. Check the requirements of specific varieties before planting in full sun. Coralbells also grow well in clay soils.
Varieties that offer showy blooms as well as fancy foliage are much appreciated by hummingbirds. In order to keep these blooms going even longer, make sure to deadhead spent blooms. This may encourage the plants to produce a second wave of blooms. Some varieties will also sporadically bloom throughout the growing season. Blossoms of coralbells also make great, long-lasting cut flowers!
It seems as though every year there is a new must-have coralbell on the market—it's hard to keep up with all of the new advancements in this family of plants. With such a wide variety of species native to the U.S., there is constantly work being done to further improve cultivars. Whether it's improving heat and humidity tolerance or winter hardiness, advancements keep getting better and better. So if you have tried coralbells before and haven't had the best of luck, don't fret! Look for other varieties that may be more suited to your area, and try again. Some older varieties lack the vigor that new ones have.
More Varieties of Coralbells
An oldie but a goodie, 'Caramel' has withstood the test of time. Foliage emerges a nice peach color and fades to rich amber. Too much sun can burn these leaves so make sure they have at least part shade. Zones 4-8
'Amber Waves' Coralbells
Heuchera 'Amber Waves' has 8-inch mounds of exciting wavy-edge leaves that are salmon pink when young but mature to rusty gold with lavender overtones. In spring it produces loose spires of small pink flowers. Zones 4-9
'Dolce Blackcurrant' Coralbells
Heuchera 'Dolce Blackcurrant' offers rich purple leaves with splashes of silver. It grows 16 inches tall and 20 inches wide. Zones 4-9
'Dolce Creme Brulee' Coralbells
Heuchera 'Dolce Creme Brulee' offers lovely bronzy foliage from spring to fall. It grows 16 inches tall and 24 inches wide. Zones 4-9
'Dolce Key Lime Pie' Coralbells
Heuchera 'Dolce Key Lime Pie' features exciting lime-green foliage from spring to fall and clusters of pink flowers in spring. It grows 16 inches tall and 14 inches wide. Zones 4-9
'Green Spice' Coralbells
Heuchera 'Green Spice' has 9-inch mounds of scalloped, red-veined silvery leaves edged with gray-green. Dainty spires of white flowers rise above the foliage. Zones 4-9
'Palace Purple' Coralbells
Heuchera micrantha 'Palace Purple' has 12-inch mounds of ivy-shape, deep purple leaves with dark red undersides. These may fade out to greenish bronze in full summer sun. Panicles of tiny flowers bloom aloft in spring. Zones 4-9
'Pewter Veil' Coralbells
Heuchera 'Pewter Veil' has scalloped, rounded leaves of metallic silver with purple-gray veins and pink undersides. They form 12-inch mounds, above which tiny white flowers bloom in spring. Zones 4-9
Plant Coralbells With:
In early spring, the brilliant blue, pink, or white flowers of lungwort bloom despite the coldest chill. The rough basal leaves, spotted or plain, always please and continue to be handsome through the season and into winter. Planted close as a weed-discouraging groundcover or in borders as edgings or bright accent plants, lungworts are workhorses and retain their good looks. Provide high-humus soil that retains moisture. Although lungwort tolerates dry conditions, be alert for mildew.
Astilbe brings a graceful feathery note to moist, shady landscapes. In cooler climates in the northern third or so of the country, it can tolerate full sun provided it has a constant supply of moisture. In drier sites, however, the leaves will scorch in full sun. Feathery plumes of white, pink, lavender, or red flowers rise above the finely divided foliage from early to late summer, depending on the variety. It will spread slowly over time where well-situated. Most commercially available types are complex hybrids.
This plant was hardly grown 40 years ago but is now one of the most commonly used garden plants. Hosta has earned its spot in the hearts of gardeners because it's among the easiest plants to grow as long as you have some shade and ample rainfall. Hostas vary from tiny plants suitable for troughs or rock gardens to massive 4-foot clumps with heart-shape leaves almost 2 feet long. Leaves can be puckered, wavy-edged, white or green variegated, blue-gray, chartreuse, emerald-edged—the variations are virtually endless. Hostas in new sizes and touting new foliage features seem to appear each year. This tough, shade-loving perennial, also known as plantain lily, blooms with white or purplish lavender funnel-shape or flared flowers in summer. Some are intensely fragrant. Hostas are a favorite of slug and deer.
One of the most elegant ferns available for your garden, Japanese painted ferns are washed with gorgeous silver and burgundy markings. Lady fern is equally elegant, though not quite as showy. Either will add interest and texture to your shady spots. Closely related to each other, Japanese painted fern and lady fern are sometimes crossed with each other to create attractive hybrids. Unlike most ferns, these toughies will tolerate dry soil. And they will tolerate some sun if they have ample water.