Heuchera americana is a native North American plant with distinctive foliage and a delicate cloud of flowers. It has many applications, working well as a border, in a rock garden, open woodland or in a shade garden. Heucheras can also be massed to form ground cover.
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Heuchera, known as "coral bells" or "alum root," is a semievergreen member of the saxifrage family. Foliage grows from a thick, radiating clump about 1 foot tall and 1.5 feet in diameter. Small white to red flowers nod from 1 to 2.5-feet tall flower stalks called "peduncles" in late spring to early summer.
Native heucheras begin with bronze-purplish foliage, maturing to green; there are many variations, including leaves mottled, veined or rimmed with silvers, grey, darker plums or bronzes. They are classified for growth in USDA agricultural zones 3 through 9, depending on the cultivar.
Heuchera needs only grooming in the fall to remove organic matter rodents might use for winter shelter. Cut back old foliage to the ground in spring. Many varieties grow new leaves, raising the crown each year until freezing heaves the plant up. The Missouri Botanical Garden suggests dividing and resetting every three to four years to keep crowns in the ground.
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