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Best Heuchera for ground cover

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Replanted long border with Heuchera Forever Red, Lime Marmalade and Zipper surrounded by Sorbaria, hydrangea Magical Revolution Blue and Kniphofia
Replanted long border with Heuchera Forever Red, Lime Marmalade and Zipper surrounded by Sorbaria, hydrangea Magical Revolution Blue and Kniphofia

Year-round colour from Heuchera, Heucherella and Tiarella

Beginner gardeners – if you want colour all year round, you don’t have to rely on flowers – go for Heuchera and their relatives.

These little plants will put up with a fair amount of shade, provide excellent ground cover, smother weeds and their evergreen leaves keep on going even in the harshest of winters. Plants prefer a spot in the morning sun and afternoon shade.

They’re drought tolerant and don’t mind heat and humidity – really the perfect garden plant.

Plant them straight into the garden to knit together to provide interest under roses and shrubs and they make excellent container plants too.

All you need to do is tidy up old leaves in spring and give them a decent general fertiliser such as Growmore and they’re good to go.

Vast leaf colour variation

There are hundreds of varieties on offer, ranging from bright lime and gold through reds, purples and nearly black.

Although Heuchera are grown mostly for their leaves, they do carry pretty, delicate flowers in summer, hence the common name Coral Bells.

What’s the difference between Heuchera, Tiarella and Heucherella? Not a great deal, really.

  • Heuchera have the most vivid colours, with a maple-shaped leaf, which can be ruffled or veined.
  • Tiarella have lobed or heart-shaped foliage, mainly green with maroon markings.
  • Heucherella are a cross between the two, so you get the Heuchera’s colour and the leaf shapes and markings of a Tiarella.
Heuchera Marmalade and bluebells
Heuchera Marmalade and bluebells

Dealing with plant problems

They’re pretty trouble-free, although mine have suffered from vine weevil damage (here’s how to treat and prevent it) and Heuchera can suffer from rust but I have never had a problem with this.

Here are my favourites, including a new batch I bought at Harrogate Autumn Show to pep up the border.

Heuchera Forever Red: Vivid red foliage with pink flowers in summer, sun or partial shade, height 20cm x 35cm.

Heuchera Zipper: Ruffled leaves in orange and amber with white flowers in summer and autumn, sun or partial shade, height 20cm x 30cm.

Vine weevils
Heuchera completely severed at the roots by vine weevil grubs

Contrasting colours

Heuchera Lime Marmalade: Frilly lime-green foliage with white flowers May-July. Light shade, height 25cm x 40cm.

Heuchera Metallica: I grew these from seeds from Plant World Seeds (plants do vary in colour). Marbled and veined leaves in mahogany, bronze, aluminium and silver, pale pink summer flowers. Partial shade, height 30cm x 30cm.

Heucherella Solar Power: Deep red markings on lobed leaves of yellow-gold forming a spreading mound. Great for a container in shade/partial shade, white flowers, height 25cm x 35cm.

Heuchera Midnight Rose: Pink ‘spotting’ covers the dark plum foliage in spring, partial shade or full sun, cream flowers, height 30cm x 40cm.

Heuchera Silver Blush: Shiny silver foliage on a dark background, pink flowers in summer, part shade, shade, height 35cm x 35cm.

Shasta daisy, golden hop and Heuchera Silver Blush
Shasta daisy Aglaia and golden hop with Heuchera Silver Blush flower

Popular varieties

Heuchera Plum Pudding: An older, very popular variety, with lobed, deep beetroot-purple foliage dusted with silvery-grey, white flowers, sun-partial shade, height 20cm x 35cm.

Heuchera Marmalade: Ruffled leaves with pink new growth turning to peach then dark orange, with a rich pink underside, cream flowers, height 30cm x 40cm.

Heuchera Obsidian: Lobed, glossy leaves, reddish-black in spring, darkening to near-black, cream flowers, partial shade, height 25cm x 40cm.

Heuchera Paprika: Large orange leave with a rose tint in spring, changing to bright orange in summer, deepens to burgundy in autumn, white flowers in spring, sun-shade, height 20cm x 40cm.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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