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GardenSMART :: 3 Ways to Use Coral Bells in Your Garden

3 Ways to Use Coral Bells in Your Garden

By Susan Martin for Proven Winners
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners


We've all been there, standing in front of a rainbow of delectable coral bells at the garden center, wondering which ones to choose. Should you go with traditional purple or try something a little jazzier? Which ones would draw in the hummingbirds? Could any be used in containers? Let's take a closer look at how you can use coral bells in your garden.

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Coral bells come in a rainbow of colors to light up your garden.  

There are more options than ever before when it comes to coral bells, also known by their botanical name Heuchera. There's one to fit every color palette, whether you're going for hot oranges and vivid purples or looking to cool things off with soothing silvers and chartreuse.

Color isn't the only thing that varies between cultivars of coral bells. Some stay naturally smaller and densely mounded while others grow into billowy masses with broad leaves. Many are grown primarily for their decorative foliage but some produce showy flowers, too.

Traditional Use in Landscapes

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The glowing apricot foliage of Primo® 'Peachberry Ice' makes it a real standout in landscapes.

Most often, coral bells are planted in landscapes where they make a colorful border along a pathway or provide a pop of color in a shady space. Even the largest varieties like those in the Primo® series only mound to about a foot tall, so they won't block the view of the plants behind them. Try pairing them with other part shade loving plants like Surefire® begonias, Shadowland® hostas and the Invincibelle® series of hydrangeas.

A partly shaded location – preferably one that receives morning sun – and soil that is well-drained are ideal conditions for coral bells. We've detailed everything you'll need to know to grow them well, including lighting, watering, feeding and more in this helpful article.

Generally, the darker the foliage, the more sun the plant can handle. That means you'll want to grow your chartreuse coral bells in a shadier spot than your purple ones. If the place you're thinking about planting your coral bells gets a lot of sun in the afternoon, select one from the garden center that has dark foliage like Primo 'Black Pearl', 'Mahogany Monster' or 'Wildberry'.

Coral Bells for Containers

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The smaller size of Dolce® 'Silver Gumdrop' makes it easy to tuck into containers with colorful annuals like Supertunia® Bordeaux™ petunias, Silver Bullet® artemesia, Soprano® Purple daisies and Vertigo® grass. Find more container recipes that feature coral bells here.

Fun foliage plants are always a hit for container recipes since they are colorful all season with no flowers to deadhead. Maybe you've tried using coleus or decorative grasses in your containers, so why not try coral bells, too? Smaller varieties like those in the Dolce® series are ideal for mixing with other plants in recipes where their densely mounded foliage acts as a filler.

A bonus of using perennials like coral bells in your containers is that you'll have something to plant in your garden when the season is nearing its end. They will overwinter easily in the ground in zones 4-9 so you can enjoy them again next year. If you garden in zones 6 and warmer, you can overwinter them right in the container. We'll show you how to overwinter perennials in containers in this article.

Growing Coral Bells for Cut Flowers and Hummingbirds

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It's easy for hummingbirds to spot the vivid red flowers of Dolce® 'Spearmint' coral bells when they bloom in midsummer.

The same traits that make us all love coral bells flowers and inspire us to use them in bouquets are also what attract hummingbirds—masses of vibrant cherry red and pink blossoms. Coral bells flowers are long lasting both on the plant and as a cut flower, so there's plenty of time to feed the hummers and enjoy the harvested flowers.  

Some varieties have showier blossoms than others. If you're looking for amazing flower power and want to attract hummingbirds, choose varieties like Dolce 'Spearmint', 'Silver Gumdrop' and 'Appletini' which all produce brilliantly colored flowers. Primo® 'Black Pearl', 'Mahogany Monster' and 'Pretty Pistachio' also produce beautiful blossoms in more subtle tones.  

Want to learn more about coral bells?

Patent Info: Primo® 'Peachberry Ice' Heuchera USPPAF CanPBRAF; Primo® 'Black Pearl' Heuchera USPP29395 Can5724; Primo® 'Mahogany Monster' Heuchera USPPAF CanPBRAF; Dolce® 'Wildberry' Heuchera USPPAF CanPBRAF; Dolce® 'Silver Gumdrop' Heuchera USPP29207 CanPBRAF; Supertunia® Bordeaux™ Petunia USPP16144 Can2532; Soprano® Purple Osteospermum USPP15491 Can2137; Graceful Grasses® Vertigo® Pennisetum USPP22254 CanPBRAF; Dolce® 'Spearmint' Heuchera USPPAF CanPBRAF; Dolce® 'Appletini' Heuchera USPP29396 CanPBRAF; Primo® 'Pretty Pistachio' Heuchera USPP 29361 CanPBRAF

Contributor Bio: Susan Martin is an avid zone 6 gardener, garden writer and speaker who enjoys spreading her passion for plants to her fellow gardeners across North America.


All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

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