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What is a Heuchera?

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  • Written By: Amy Hunter
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2018
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There are fifty species of flowers that make up the heuchera family. This flower is a native to North America, and is a perennial. This means that once it is planted, it will return year after year. Different species of heuchera grow wild from Canada to Mexico. Wild species typically have nondescript green or white flowers that are not considered ornamental.

The family that makes up heuchera is recognizable by several key characteristics. The root and stem are thick, and the leaves that make up the plant are deeply lobed. Aside from these shared traits, the many species of heucheras are very different.

The type and quality of soil that they require varies greatly from species to species. Some heucheras thrive in rocky, almost nonexistent soil, while others grow in more lush areas. Some are very tolerant of extremes in the weather, while others are more sensitive.

Heuchera flowers come in many different sizes, shapes and colors. One of the more well known species of heuchera is the coral bell. Other species that are relative common include Jill-of-the-rocks and American Alumroot.

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Plants in the heuchera family are generally considered edible, and can be tossed in with other greens for a mixed salad. The leaves are typically too bitter to eat on their own, but add a tangy kick to an otherwise bland salad. It is important to thoroughly wash the greens before eating, as it can be hard to determine if the plants have been exposed to pesticides, or other poisons.

Heucheras have a history of use in natural medicine. Some of the plants in the alumroot family of heuchera have been used for years to treat digestive issues. Alumroot is also said to reduce swelling and inflammation, as well as to stop bleeding in minor injuries.

Heuchera plants that are developed for use in the garden have the same shape as their wild relatives: a low growing mound of leaves, with flowers growing from the center in a spike-like formation. Domesticated varieties typically have much bolder colored flowers as well. While very adaptable, they prefer well drained soil that is relatively neutral. They can tolerate some sun, but perform better when they have shade during the hottest portion of the day. These plants are relatively disease free, but may develop fungal problems if they are planted in areas that receive constant shade, or extreme moisture during the hot summer months.

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OeKc05
Post 4

I love my heuchera purple for two reasons. One is its beauty, and the other is its flavor in my salads.

The dark purple leaves have silver veins, and round, white flowers grow on tall stems during the blooming season. The color of the leaves reminds me of certain greens that you normally find in salads at restaurants, so it seems natural to eat them.

To me, they taste great when covered in red wine vinaigrette. I throw in some cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions, and I have an instant lunch.

I have had friends over for salad before, and I never tell them until after they finish lunch that the greens came from my yard. They are always shocked to find their lunch growing outside in my flower garden!

StarJo
Post 3

@seag47 – That sounds like it would complement my heuchera peach really well. I will have to look into getting some to mix into my garden.

The beautiful peach colored leaves of this plant start out green but turn the color of their namesake by summertime. They have tall, spiky flowers with pastel pink blooms, and they just look so unique.

The peach leaves turn dark purple in the fall. Since I live in an area with mild winters, this heuchera stays alive all year. I love having the purple color in my fall garden, and I have purple chrysanthemums that match them.

seag47
Post 2

I ordered some beautiful heuchera obsidian from a gardening catalog last year. The mounds of leaves were ten inches across when they arrived in pots.

The most beautiful thing about this plant is its shiny leaves. They are so shiny that they look fake.

Heuchera obsidian does really well in full sun, and it seems like the black leaves shine even more the hotter and sunnier it gets. I keep the soil moist, and I even mixed in some hummus to retain more moisture.

When it comes time for the flowers to emerge, they really show off. These cream colored blooms grow about two feet tall, and they provide a good contrast to the glassy black leaves below.

shell4life
Post 1

I live in a tropical area, so heuchera grows very well here. I have coral bells growing along the front of my house, and they seem to love the sandy soil.

While I do have some regular earth in my yard, a good percentage of it is sand. This mixture keeps the coral bells from getting too much moisture trapped around their roots, so they are not at risk of rotting, even in the rainy season.

I pinch off the dead blooms, because this seems to encourage fresh ones to emerge. I have to do this from late June until late August, because they bloom consistently during this time.

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