Heuchera, Tiarella & Heucherella

Heuchera in Garden with Blooms. Photo courtesy of patrick_standish via Flickr.

Heuchera are clump forming perennial plants native to North America and known for their tiny bell shaped flowers, giving them the common name “Coral Bells”.  They are attractive and easy to care for.  They are mostly shade loving perennials although there are varieties that enjoy more sunnier locations.  They very closely related to the Tiarella, or “Foam Flower” plant, with both belonging to the Saxifragaceae family.  This family also includes Astilbe, Bergenia and Mukdenia.  Because Tiarella and Heuchera are so closely related they are also parents to a hybrid cross – Heucherella or “Foamy Bells”.  This trio of plants all have the same general care requirements, some cultivars more hardy than others, with variation among leaf size, shape, texture and foliage or flower color and variegation.  There are several popular varieties of Tiarella that are more trailing than clump forming.  New hybrid cultivars of these plants come in a rainbow of foliage colors with flowers ranging from white to pink to red.  These plants are selected for their evergreen foliage display and are perfect mixed into woodland gardens and a great addition to container gardens.  Mix them with other cool weather plants such as, pansies, snap dragons, ferns, ajuga and ivy for fabulous containers that will look great until Spring. Their flowers are more just an added bonus and are a collection of tiny flowers that form on stalks typically rising a foot over the foliage.  They are typically easy to care for but their downfalls are being planted too deep and over-watering or poorly draining soil.  These plants make the most impact with planted to contrast each other and other shade plants.  Alternate cultivars when you plant to create the most striking contrasts between one plant or another.