Rich chocolate, green or bronze leaves decorate the hundreds of showy heuchera varieties. Also known as the coral flower, this plant makes a colourful addition to a yard or garden. Its diminutive size makes it an excellent ground cover that blends well with other plants. The colourful leaves on this low-growing perennial serve as a backdrop to delicate flowers that appear during blooming season.
The heuchera is a small plant that grows to a height of up to 30 inches and a width of 12 to 18 inches. Flowers are the main attraction on the heuchera, which displays attractive semi-evergreen foliage as well. Foliage colours range from light green to purplish-red. Bell-shaped flowers decorate the plant in the summer and sit atop stems that grow from 10 to 20 inches tall. Heucheras grow well in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8 and prefer shade. However, they tolerate a northern sun if they have adequate moisture. Common problems include powdery mildew and stem rot.
When growing heucheras, plant them in moist, well-drained soil that is moderately to richly fertile. If the soil is heavy, mix it with compost or leaf mould in the holes where you place the plants. Choose planting locations away from walls, fences or others solid structures that may impede air circulation. In late fall, add about 3 inches of mulch to the soil to prevent the plants from heaving if your area is subject to frost. Frost heaving occurs when a plant's roots experience repeated frost and thawing cycles. This can harm the heuchera's roots.
Heuchera varieties come in many colours that you can use to create interesting visual effects. The Lime Rickey variety, for example, gives your yard or garden a bold green look. It has wide blossoms and beautiful chartreuse leaves that cover the plant. The Lime Rickey is shorter than the regular heuchera and only reaches a height of 8 inches. This plant also makes an excellent ground cover. Another heuchera variety, the Sparkling Burgundy, draws its hues from the opposite end of the colour spectrum. This plant's white flowers and burgundy foliage add a revitalising touch of red to the landscape. The Sparkling Burgundy variety grows well in full sun and partial shade.
One way to create new heucheras is to divide the roots of a mature plant. Remove the plant from the soil, and locate the crown where the root meets the stems. Carefully cut sections from this area. Dig holes where you want new heucheras to grow, and drop the sections into the holes. Position the sections so that their tops are even with the ground's surface. You can also use the "leaf bud cutting" method to propagate the plant. Cut away part of a heuchera's main stem along with a few leaves. Mix equal amounts of peat and perlite, and coat the cutting with rooting hormone. You can then place the cutting in the mixture, cover it with a plastic bag and place it in moist, shady location away from the sun. A new heuchera will grow from the cutting. When it develops roots, plant the heuchera in a location of your choice.