Add color with Heuchera

November 05, 2006|By Kathy Van Mullekom | Kathy Van Mullekom,Daily Press

Be prepared to sound like you've got mild hiccups when you say the name of the trendiest perennial.

At first, the word Heuchera (pronounced HEW kuh ruh) stumbles across your tongue, but a couple of practice sessions will get you over the hump. The name honors the 18th-century German physician and botanist Johann von Heucher.

Commonly called coralbells, Heucheras are low-growing plants primarily admired for their foliage. Their small white to pinkish-red flowers, produced on top of tall slim stalks, are showy in spring, especially when planted en masse.

But, again, it's their foliage that casts the magic spell, especially in fall when cooler temperatures bring out the best in them.

There are more than 50 Heucheras on the market and more will arrive next spring. There's `Amethyst Mist' with dark purple foliage highlighted with silver markings, `Caramel' with butterscotch foliage that changes to peachy-orange and `Frosted Violet' with pink-purple foliage and darker veining. In Hampton, Va., McDonald Garden Center grows a special one called `Midnight Rose'; its burnished-black leaves become thickly spotted with hot pink in spring.

"Heuchera foliage holds up well in all but the coldest winters," says Steve Urick, education coordinator at McDonald's.

"They are easy to grow and dependable. It's exciting when you have a plant that will do anything you ask."

Kathy Van Mullekom writes for the Daily Press (Newport News, Va.).

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