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Succeeding with Dolce® and Primo® Heuchera

Heuchera, commonly called coral bells, are easy to grow and thrive in zones 4-9. Dolce® and Primo® varieties were bred from native North American species and provide colorful foliage all season. Some also produce pretty sprays of airy flowers in early summer.

Ideal Light Conditions

  • The ideal conditions to grow coral bells in is part shade, meaning 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight per day, and out of the way of scorching afternoon sun. 
  • Varieties with lighter colored leaves, like yellow or soft peach, need more shade than those with darker leaves to protect them from sun scorch. Plant them in morning sun or full shade.
  • Varieties with near-black foliage or another saturated color can handle more sun. In cooler growing regions, they will even grow in full sun if given enough moisture. 
  • If the foliage starts to turn brown with crispy edges, it is probably getting too much sun and should be moved to a shadier location.

How Much Moisture?

  • Coral bells prefer moist, well-drained soil. Soggy, wet soil, especially over the winter months, kills more coral bells than cold temperatures. Don't plant them where you pile your snow for the winter. 
  • Coral bells with especially fuzzy leaves tend to prefer less water and be more heat tolerant than those with shiny leaves. Those are good choices to plant in warmer climates and in places where the soil tends to be a bit drier.
  • If you have heavy clay garden soil, amend it to improve the drainage before planting your new coral bells or plant them in a raised bed.
  • Because of this love for good drainage, coral bells grow beautifully in containers. Just make sure there is a hole in the bottom where the excess water can drain from. 

Feed in Spring

  • Feed coral bells by spreading a few handfuls of compost or slow release plant food around them in the spring. This will help them flush out with a beautiful new set of leaves for the new year. 
  • Additional feeding is not typically necessary.

Leaves of Many Colors

  • Some varieties of coral bells change colors a bit throughout the year. Spring and fall weather tends to make the colors brighter while the summer’s heat may encourage a light silvering to develop on some varieties. A few varieties like Dolce 'Apple Twist' emerge in spring with reddish leaves that turn chartreuse for the rest of the growing season. This is perfectly normal and should not be a cause for concern. 

Showy Flowers Are a Bonus

  • Some varieties of coral bells produce showy flowers while others are grown strictly for their foliage because their flowers are insignificant. When shopping, read the plant label to know whether you should expect showy blooms to appear. 
  • Varieties that do produce showy flowers can be used as cut flowers in fresh bouquets. The flower stems are typically long and strong enough for cutting and the flowers last several days. The leaves of coral bells can also be used in small arrangements.
  • Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to coral bells with vibrant red or pink flowers. 

Whether planted alone or in container recipes, Dolce and Primo coral bells will have fabulous foliage all season long. Those grown in containers can be transplanted into the landscape in early fall if you'd like them to come back again next year. If you garden in zones 6b or warmer, they can also be overwintered in containers. Learn more about how to do that here.


Dolce® Heuchera (Coral Bells)

Dolce® coral bells tend to be smaller plants than those in the Primo collection. That makes them easier to pair with other plants in container recipes and to use near the front of the landscape border. Dolce 'Appletini', 'Silver Gumdrop' and 'Spearmint' produce vibrant flowers, while the others in the series are mainly grown for their colorful foliage.

 


Primo® Heuchera (Coral Bells)

Primo® coral bells are a bit larger and take up more space in containers and landscapes. They make showy specimens in containers for your porch or patio, and pair easily with hostas and other part shade loving plants in the landscape. Their larger leaves and robust habit make them especially eye-catching in the garden. Primo varieties are particularly well-suited to climates with hot, humid summers but thrive all across North America.

 

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