Try growing native coral bells for strong and steady good looks.
Discover one of the parent plants to many of the modern Heuchera varieties: Heuchera americana. Along with Heuchera villosa (hairy alum root), Heuchera americana has been used to create some of the colorful foliage favorites among coral bells. Heuchera americana brings strong heat and cold tolerance to the coral bells parade.
Heuchera americana is a North American native wildflower. Its growing range extends from New York State south to Georgia and west to Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma. Its hardiness falls into Zones 4 to 8. This is a sturdy perennial that can take cold winters along with Deep South-style heat and humidity. When leaves first appear on Heuchera americana in early spring, they emerge with a red or purple-brown tinge. As the five- to seven-lobed, heart-shaped leaves mature, they shift to a deep, solid green. Heuchera americana typically forms a clump that measures 12 to 15 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide.
Flowers appear in late spring to midsummer. Actual timing of when flower spikes appear varies with latitude. Flowering occurs sooner in the year in warmer regions and later in cooler ones. The blooms occur on long, slender stems that stand 18 to 24 inches above leaves. Blossoms are bell-shaped in shades of greenish white. Coral bells flowers have an open, airy appearance that creates a striking contrast to the chunky texture of the leaves.
In its native habitat, Heuchera americana is frequently found growing on ledges of river bluffs, in crevices of rocky outcroppings and in rocky, open woodlands. In a landscape setting, Heuchera americana will feel at home in a rock garden, planted along a rocky water garden bank or tucked along edges of raised beds. All of these sites provide good drainage, which is a must for growing Heuchera americana. In terms of sunlight, Heuchera americana can withstand full sun in northern regions, but does best with afternoon shade in southern locales.
Count on Heuchera americana to add a steady shot of green to shade gardens or to form an eye-catching, low-maintenance groundcover, especially in rocky areas where it’s tough to plant other perennials. If your landscape features native plants, Heuchera americana fits that theme with ease. It’s also a great addition to a butterfly or pollinator garden.
Like other coral bells, Heuchera americana isn’t sensitive to juglone, the chemical released by black walnut trees that interferes with plant growth. It makes a great choice for adding a splash of steady, season-long green to perennial plantings near or beneath walnut trees. Heuchera americana can also withstand salt. Use it along sidewalks and driveways in northern regions where, in winter, you normally use salt-based ice melt products.