Popular perennials native to the United States, Heuchera are currently undergoing extensive selection and hybridization. The plain but dainty wildflower of the past has been transformed into a whole host of hybrids with amazing color patterns which provide dramatic contrasts between light and dark – silver and deep purple.
With the advent of intense hybridizing programs, foliage has become an important part of color in the perennial garden because it provides patches of long-lasting color. Heuchera, with its exciting new cultivars, provides foliage that is speckled, splashed, or washed in shades of silver, bronze, purple, and red. Some hybrids such as Heuchera ‘Amber Waves’ even change color over the season as the foliage matures and others provide vibrant fall color. ‘Palace Purple’, though still a great cultivar, is no longer the main choice for red-leaved Heuchera!
Though the airy clusters of tiny flowers are very attractive, these perennials are coveted more for their foliage effect in the garden. The loose panicles of dainty bell-shaped flowers that rise above the foliage on tall graceful flower stems are simply an added bonus! The flowers, which attract hummingbirds and butterflies, appear from late spring to early summer in shades of red, pink, coral, and white. This floral display can be extended into September by removing the spent flower stalks. But don't thow them away! These light, airy flowering stems make wonderful cut flowers for a cheery indoor display!
Heuchera (Zones 3-8) perform best when planted in light shade in average, well-drained soil. In more northern zones, they can tolerate full sun but in warmer climates they benefit from at least some afternoon shade. Heuchera are excellent for the woodland garden and are an asset to the front of the shade or part shade border garden. They are stunning companion plants to Hosta and ferns in the shade garden and the burgundy leaved cultivars are striking when combined with the silvery gray foliage of Artemisia and Stachys. These perennials are pest and disease resistant, and evergreen or semi-evergreen in warmer zones.
Some exciting new Heuchera include the beautiful Heuchera ‘Crimson Curls’. This unusual hybrid has interesting leaves with curled edges which emerge a deep reddish maroon in spring and mature to a soft grayish green in summer. The underside of the leaves remains a deep crimson throughout the season. ‘Crimson Curls’ offers a nice contrast in color as well as texture in a mixed border of perennials.
Heuchera ‘Hollywood’ boasts deep purple foliage washed in silver creating a stunning contrast between purple veins and frosty leaves. To add to its uniqueness, this cultivar has dense clusters of brilliant red flowers along the stem, very unlike the typical open arrangement of flowers on most varieties of Heuchera.
Heuchera x villosa ‘Mocha’ is another excellent new cultivar with striking deep purple, almost black leaves. The small white flowers are a striking contrast.
Heuchera 'Midnight Rose' has very unusual foliage that is dark reddish-black with hot pink flecks.