Coralbells are the flower that set off my love of gardening and quest for horticultural knowledge. When I knew nothing about gardening, I stumbled on these wonderfully delicate flowers that looked like they were floating on air – no one knew what they were. In my quest to figure out what the flowers were, I stumbled into a lifelong love of gardening. If you’re curious and want to know how to grow coral bells in your garden, we have all the growing tips you need below.
Coral bells plants
Coralbells (heuchera spp, alumroot) are beautiful flowers that produce delicate bell-shaped flowers atop tall stems. These flowers are native to North America and have attractive foliage and beautifully colorful flowers that make a good choice for rock gardens, shade gardens, or ground covers and look natural in a woodland setting. Coral bells do well in woodland settings as they are deer resistant. In my experience deer will eat anything, even the flowers that are considered deer resistant, but with coral bells, I haven’t had any problems at all with deer.
The colorful foliage of heuchera plants is rounded with scalloped edges that are usually evergreen and can be marbled or have dark lines or patches. The foliage can be incredibly colorful, and even outshine the flowers!
Blossoms are bell-shaped and are very small( 1/4 – 1/3 inch long.)
Growing environment for Coral Bells
Coralbells are easy-to-grow perennial plants that require very little fuss once established.
- Hardiness – USDA hardiness zones 3-4. Not sure of your hardiness zone? You can check out this interactive map to find your hardiness zone.
- Light Requirements – Full sun partial shade, although the plants will bloom more profusely in full sun. The flowers are best planted in a shade garden in zones with hot, dry summers.
- Soil Requirements: Coral bells require good drainage with moist soil full of organic matter. If planting in clay soil, mix in some humus-rich soil to help lighten and aerate the soil. Coral bells have shallow roots that require consistent moisture, if they dry out the plant can die.
- Flower Colors available: Plants have reds, pinks, and white flowers. The foliage is very colorful too!
- Related: If you’re planning a shade garden, we have a recommended list of 14 flowers that will grow in shade. Check it out!
Care of coral bells
- Water Requirements – Plants require at least 1 inch of water a week. It’s a good idea to add extra water during hot, dry days.
- Feeding – A spring application of compost or a slow-acting general-purpose fertilizer will be all that is required for an entire growing season.
- Winter Care– After the first winter, frost adds a layer of mulch to help prevent the shallow-rooted plants from heaving out of the ground during the cold winter months.
How to plant coral bells
You can grow coral bells from seeds, but many of the new varieties can only be propagated through cuttings or division.
- Sowing seeds outdoors – Sow coral bell seeds outdoors in late fall or early spring. If planted in late spring, the plant may fail to flower the first year.
- Seed starting indoors – Start seeds in early spring indoors in seed trays 4-6 weeks before the last spring frost.
- How to plant new plants – The best time to plant purchased roots or cuttings in spring after the last frost in your area. Set the crown of the plant just at ground level. Planting the rootball too deep can cause fungal diseases like root rot. Space plants 1 1/2 feet apart.
- Coral bells flowering time – Flowers will bloom in late May, continue to bloom well into early summer, and can last even longer if the plant is dead-headed. In areas with cool summers, the plants can last through the summer months.
Propagating Coral Bell plants
Mature plants are incredibly easy to propagate by division, which you should do in early spring.
You can also use leaf cuttings from new growth to propagate coral bells. To propagate by leaf cuttings, take a leaf with part of a stem attached, and root in moist sand or vermiculite. Using rooting hormone powder or gel will yield better results.
They make lovely cut flowers & container plants
Coral bells make an excellent addition to a cut flower garden. They add lovely texture to vase displays and bouquets.
The plants also make wonderful container gardening plants. When the flowers diet back the foilage is still stunning!
- Learn More: The Best Flowers For a Cutting Garden
Common insect pests
There are not many insect pests that bother coral bells, but they can occasionally be infested with foliar nematodes and root weevils.
If your coralbells develop brown-yellow spots on the leaves, they may be infested with foliar nematodes. Nematodes are not insects but roundworms almost invisible to the naked eye. Unfortunately, there is no cure for foliar nematodes, and it is best to cut your losses before they spread through the rest of your plants. Dig up and destroy (do not compost) any infected plants with the growing soil.
If the crowns turn black and die or have crowns that appear eaten, you may have root weevil. These insects overwinter as adults in debris and leaf litter around the crowns of the plants.
These pests are generally difficult to control. You can move healthy plants to another area of the garden. You can also dig up and destroy the infected plants (do not compost). The best control method is being proactive in the garden by keeping it clean.
Common diseases of Coral Bells
Several disease problems can infect coral bells:
Leaves may have transparent or black spots. Some fungal spots may have accompanying flecks or small black dots. Often spots come together to form large areas of dead tissue.
Control leaf spot by simply picking off infected leaves and destroying them. Clean up and remove dead plant debris in the garden to help reduce spore populations.
If the problem is persistent, you can spray plants occasionally with wettable sulfur.
Fungal diseases like powdery mildew can be pretty common in the garden, where the leaves and soil remain wet and have poor air circulation.
You can identify a fungal infection of powdery mildew by the ash grey powdery mold on the leaves. Heavily infected leaves will become discolored and die.
Spray with wettable sulfur once or twice weekly to control severe infections.
Milk is said to work well for powdery mildew (gardeners swear by it), but I have personally never had success with the milk method – your results may be different.
The flowers that make a cottage garden
I mentioned earlier that coral bells were my proper introduction to gardening, and I have had a soft spot for them ever since. When I first saw them, it was in a very flowery cottage-style garden, and I was head over heels in love with the flower at first sight.
If you have a cottage garden, I highly recommend adding some coralbells; they add so much movement, texture, and whimsy!
Do you have your gardening origin story? What was the moment you fell in love with gardening and couldn’t look back? We would LOVE to hear your tales! Leave a comment or drop us an email, or even tag us in your social media stories we would love to watch and comment!
Yes, coral bells will spread on their own. Not to worry though, they can easily be thinned, and cuttings used to propagate new plants elsewhere in your garden!
Yes, coral bells are considered invasive in many places. I personally don’t think of this as a bad thing, because they are SO beautiful, and their spread can be managed easily by thinning, which has the added bonus of giving you cuttings to start new plants in other sections of your garden!
Absolutely! While your coral bells are in bloom hummingbirds will love to dart in for a meal.
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