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Anne K Moore
Photographs Anne K Moore

As we come into the cool days of fall, I have a confession to make. As much as I have loved heucheras’ in pots or blended with any plant in the shade garden, I only have one true survivor of the summer heat. (‘Caramel’ is lingering, but not anything to brag about.) My favorite and the one to actually survive and thrive through the 100-degree days is the 2009 introduction, ‘Obsidian’.

This shiny black-leaved beauty is evergreen, or actually, everblack, in a pot shared with wire vine. This container had a couple other residents in 2009, Heuchera ‘Sugar Plum’ and lemon button fern. They are gone now, becoming compost after their demise. To see what this pot looked like with its first residents and after the warm summer days, check out My optimism was high for Heuchera ‘Sugar Plum’ but she and the button fern did not survive the winter.

Obsidian not only suffers the heat without wilting or leaf drop, I am confident it will go through the cold days of winter in the same stand up style. It came through one of our coldest winters on record last year.

Most heucheras are more suited to the cool Northwest summers than they are to the Southern states or the hot and humid summers in the Midwest. Where they usually shine is if they are used as annuals in winter containers where the temperatures do not go below 20 degrees in the winter. Their leaves can really make a bold statement or serve as understory to a larger plant.

H. ‘Obsidian’, whose black leaves are backed in deep, rich garnet, can grow to 10” high by 18” wide. It mounds nicely in part shade or part sun. Cream flowers in summer draw in hummingbirds and even butterflies if situated where some sun shines. This might be the heuchera for you, especially if you like a plant’s dark side.

Wire Vine - Muehlenbeckia axillaris USDA Zones 7-9. Raise it as an annual or as a houseplant where it is not hardy. Sun to Part Sun.
Heuchera, also known as Coral Bells – USDA Zones 6-9. Needs water. Experts say full to part sun. Mine thrives in light shade.
Posted September 25, 2014

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