How To Grow Heucherella

Heucherella is a fairly new genus made by crossing heuchera (Coral Bells) with tiarella (Foamflower), both North American native plants. The early crosses were made using fairly bland species, but current breeding incorporates new genetics like exciting, colored-foliage heuchera and superior tiarellas with unusual cut leaves and dark centers.

The first colored-foliage heucherella appeared in 2002 with ‘Sunspot’ and has been eclipsed by the introduction of new hybrids with Heuchera villosa in their background. This cross brings more heat and humidity tolerance and larger foliage to the plant, as seen in the cultivars ‘Sweet Tea’ and ‘Alabama Sunrise.’ We now revel in a rainbow of new foliage colors and most recently, trailing forms that are finding uses as colorful groundcovers in semi-shade or in hanging baskets. Never before has a hardy groundcover been available in such a range of foliage colors.

Terra Nova Nurseries has been at the forefront of breeding these beauties while being careful to add heat and humidity tolerance to plants that have nice habits and clean flowers on short spikes. Terra Nova currently offers 22 different heucherella (the world’s largest selection) in a mixture of different habits. Reports from heat trials as brutal as the summers suffered in Tulsa, Okla., Starkville, Miss., and Dallas, Texas, have seen these plants flourish. ‘Buttered Rum’ and ‘Gold Zebra’ were standouts in the Mississippi State and Dallas Arboretum Trials in 2013.

 

Growing And Using Heucherella

Heucherellas are essentially shade groundcovers. Pink to creamy-white flowers are put forth from mid-spring (May here in Oregon) to early summer with intermittent bloom into fall. They are relatively drought-tolerant, but appreciate occasional watering in summer. Even a desiccated plant will surprise you by perking up soon after a watering. In fact, the best way to kill a heucherella is to overwater it or plant it in clay soil. The importance of drainage is paramount to happy plants! (This goes for heuchera and tiarella, as well).

Foliage varies greatly between cultivars, but there is a good enough selection to work with many other plants in a combination planting. Do note that the height some varieties top out at is 10 inches and some can get up to 22 inches, so pay attention to the description on the tag or in the catalog. Spread also varies from 12 inches for heucherella ‘Dayglow Pink’ to 30 inches for heucherella ‘Kimono’ (or more for the groundcovers, which can get to 36 inches across in a season). We mulch our beds yearly with a one-inch layer of bark dust; taking care that the crowns of the plants are not buried deeply (another way to kill them). They are evergreen in milder climates.

We feel that heucherellas are front- and-center border plants, excellent near pathways and amongst the ferns and woodlanders. They are equally at home in a rock garden, tolerating much more sun than you might imagine, but they do prefer afternoon shade if possible. Forms like ‘Kimono,’ ‘Alabama Sunrise’ and ‘Sweet Tea’ are large enough that they can stand alone as a specimen or fill a container independently. Flower-power plants like ‘Honey Rose’ can make quite an impact when planted in large masses.

Heucherella Culture Tips

Heucherella are wonderful plants in containers, providing the services of both a spiller and filler, while not overwhelming other varieties. Silver-leaved forms like heucherella ‘Twilight’ make a perfect foil for bright-flowered annuals. Despite being from a wide range of genetic backgrounds, the culture of these plants is fairly basic and similar.

Media: Heucherella prefers a well-drained media as drainage is absolutely essential to this genus and high-peat mixes can drown this plant.

Planting: Plant one 72-cell liner per 4-inch quart or one-gallon pot and two or three liners per pot for larger sizes. Make sure to plant the liner evenly with the final depth of soil in the pot, as these plants are quickly killed by burying the crown.

pH/EC: These plants prefer a media pH of 5.5 to 6.5 and an EC of 0.75 to 1.25 via the pour-through method.

Temperature: A 50˚F to 55˚F nighttime air temperature and a 60˚F to 65˚F daytime air temperature are ideal for heucherella. Root temperature is also very important for success with 55˚F to 60˚F being ideal. Be careful to avoid excessive root temperatures as roots can be damaged quickly during the summer, especially in black pots.

Light: Most heucherella prefer filtered light and do best under 30 to 50 percent shade, depending on location. Some of the darker-leaved varieties like ‘Twilight’ perform well in full sun if the plant is well-established and has adequate irrigation. ‘Brass Lantern,’ ‘Buttered Rum,’ ‘Cracked Ice,’ ‘Solar Eclipse’ and ‘Sweet Tea’ are clumping varieties that also do well in full sun in the trials at the Denver Botanic Garden. Trailing varieties recommended for full sun are ‘Copper Cascade’ and ‘Redstone Falls.’

Fertilizer/Watering: Supply plants with a low rate of constant liquid feed of 17-5-17 or 20-10-20 at 50 to 75 ppm nitrogen. Too much nitrogen will cause lush, soft growth that is more susceptible to disease. Keep the growing medium evenly moist during production as roots are damaged by excessively dry conditions.

If plants are allowed to wilt badly, a preventative fungicide application is advisable, as root-rot pathogens are quick to colonize damaged roots.

Pinch/PGRs: Neither pinching nor PGRs are required to grow heucherella. The trailing varieties may be cut back if they get overgrown or intertwined with their neighbors.

Pests/Disease: While rust is problematic in some heuchera, all heucherella seem to be highly resistant to the disease. However, bacterial spotting and root-rot pathogens are associated with heucherella. Avoid overhead watering to prevent bacterial spotting. The beneficial bacteria Bacillus subtilis can prevent spotting, but copper fungicides are best for cleaning up an active outbreak. Keeping the soil evenly moist and at the proper temperature will prevent most root pathogens but broad-spectrum fungicides like thiophanate-methyl and etridiazole work well for correcting problems.

Relatively few pests affect heucherella; however, root weevils can be problematic. Notched leaves on nearby plants, especially rhododendrons, yews and hosta, are signs of their presence. Chemical control of weevil grubs can be achieved with a drench of acephate or a neonicotinoid. Adult weevils can be controlled by acephate and pyrethroid sprays; however, these applications are most successful when made during the evening as the beetles are nocturnal. Nematodes can also be effective, but make sure to follow the manufacturer’s irrigation instructions, as the proper application protocol is critical for success.

Some animal pests can be a problem. Deer and rabbits like eating the fresh new leaves and flowers but tend to leave the older leaves.

Scheduling: 72-cell liners work well in most containers, but 4-inch, quart and gallon sizes are most common. Growing a 72-cell to a 4-inch pot takes 4 to 6 weeks, a quart pot would take 5 to 7 weeks and a one-gallon pot would finish in 8 to 10 weeks.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

One comment on “How To Grow Heucherella

  1. I’ve always found the Heucherellas to be difficult to overwinter and especially in the ground….an extremely short lived perennial best grown as an annual here in Maine. our long cold wet winters just kill them off .

More From Varieties...

April 17, 2015

Sakata Seed Uses California Spring Trials Display Plants To Give Back

Sakata Seed America is putting its post-CAST (California Spring Trials) plants and flowers to good use to support events in local California communities of Salinas and Morgan Hill. The plants, along with donations through Sakata's Charitable Giving Program, will support three fun-filled community events that promote healthy lifestyles and support the agricultural industry.

Read More
Hakonochloa macra Aureola v

April 17, 2015

Ornamental Grasses — A Few Thoughts

Grasses have been embraced by growers, landscape architects and retailers, and are an important component in wholesale and resale sales. Allan Armitage shares some popular grasses, one to avoid and a few to use with caution.

Read More
PW_CAST15

April 17, 2015

Allan Armitage’s Favorite Plants From Proven Winners, Syngenta And Danziger

Between visiting California Spring Trial giants like Proven Winners, Syngenta and Danziger, Allan Armitage saw a lot of great plants in one day. Despite the size of the challenge, Dr. Armitage finds a few favorites he thinks you should try.

Read More
Latest Stories

April 17, 2015

Sakata Seed Uses California Spring Trials Display Plant…

Sakata Seed America is putting its post-CAST (California Spring Trials) plants and flowers to good use to support events in local California communities of Salinas and Morgan Hill. The plants, along with donations through Sakata's Charitable Giving Program, will support three fun-filled community events that promote healthy lifestyles and support the agricultural industry.

Read More
PW_CAST15

April 17, 2015

Allan Armitage’s Favorite Plants From Proven Winn…

Between visiting California Spring Trial giants like Proven Winners, Syngenta and Danziger, Allan Armitage saw a lot of great plants in one day. Despite the size of the challenge, Dr. Armitage finds a few favorites he thinks you should try.

Read More
Gazania hybrid 'Amber Ice' (Cultivaris)

April 17, 2015

The 80/20 Theory Approach To Inventory Selection Is Put…

Tim Runte of Calloway Gardens is a member of Greenhouse Grower's Medal Of Excellence For Industry's Choice Panel. Here, he shares how he determines which plants shown at this year's California Spring Trials will make the cut at his retail stores.

Read More

April 17, 2015

Trends At California Spring Trials: AmericanHort’…

Michael Geary, CEO and president of AmericanHort, hit the road during California Spring Trials, and noted trends he saw at many of the stops. Here's one that he says we'll need to consider carefully.

Read More

April 17, 2015

Golden State Bulb At Spring Trials Has Great Appeal For…

While Golden State Bulb is a smaller stop at California Spring Trials, it’s always a treat. You not only get to see less common plants like calla lilies and eucomis, you also get to meet the passionate breeders who developed the plants you’re seeing. For plant geeks, this is a fun stop. First up, the Aloha Lily series of pineapple lily or eucomis was introduced last year, and a new variety, the dark red Kona, joined the lineup. The team at Golden State would like to see this sweet-scented series treated much like orchids by consumers. Like orchids, Aloha Lily does well in low light and has blooms that last two to three months. Now that homeowners have grown accustomed to having orchids, it just may be time to test which other long-flowering plant they would be willing to embrace. Golden State would like to see consumers approach callas in a […]

Read More
PW_calibrachoa_holy moly1

April 17, 2015

Proven Winners Shows Off Its Newest Plant Rock Stars At…

With its wide assortment of plants, great presenters and an amazing location atop a hill at a spa/resort, Proven Winners is a can’t-miss stop during California Spring Trials. The Greenhouse Grower team first visited with Proven Winners’ nursery partner, Spring Meadow, where we got to see the new shrub introductions. Shrubs Proven Winners has two new hydrangea series. The Let’s Dance series is third generation breeding and boasts strong reblooming and a compact habit. The new mountain hydrangea, ‘Tiny Tuff Stuff,’ is another rebloomer and grows to 1.5- to 2-feet tall. Its leaves take on a purple hue when they encounter cool night temperatures. The attractive new Gem Box ilex, an ink berry holly, is suggested as a boxwood replacement for those areas being hit with boxwood blight. It grows to 2- to 4-feet tall and takes full to part sun, but cannot take full shade the way boxwoods can. Spring Meado Nursery  is […]

Read More
Asian-Vegetables-Lettue-Trio-American-Takii

April 16, 2015

American Takii’s Asian Vegetable Line Is Designed…

Unlike many of the other breeders displaying at Spring Trials, American Takii didn’t have many new introductions. But it did have a new program that has prompted many visitors to post to social media — its Asian vegetables. Takii, which is well known for its vegetable breeding, is in the process of vetting the eight to 12 vegetables it will include in the program, and it should have its list fully complete by fall 2015. It is selecting plants that will be easy to use in Asian cooking and will help it stand out from the many vegetable programs in the ornamental market. The Takii marketing team designed bright-red Chinese food takeout containers to act as plant sleeves and a small booklet with five recipes. Honey Chicken With Pak Choy looked especially tasty. Take a look at how the program looks and let us know what you think.       HilverdaKooij is a […]

Read More
HGTV HOME Plant Collection_pre-made succulent container

April 16, 2015

HGTV Incorporates Plants Into Lifestyles And Helps Cons…

When we visited Dummen’s site at Edna Valley Vineyard, the HGTV HOME Plant Collection display was teeming with excited visitors checking out the new varieties, designer mixes and concepts.

Read More
Westhoff_Crazytunia_Swiss Dancer

April 16, 2015

Allan Armitage Finds Some Surprising Intros At Floricul…

Allan Armitage visited three breeders at Spring Trials’ newest location, Floricultura. He found several plants that made Floricultura’s debut a must-stop site in 2015. Westhoff At Westhoff, plant breeding is alive and well, with many things to embrace. The petunia program is vibrant and creative, and I am particularly confident that the Crazytunia program will continue to grow. Crazytunias should fly off the shelves because of their unique colors. Westhoff also brings more standard fare to the table. The Epic series of bacopas have large flowers and should be of particular interest. ‘Epic White’ is particularly nice. And the lobelia in the Hot series has been excellent. ‘Snow White’ adds a good white to the mix. The Hot series does tolerate heat better than most lobelias and now it has a reasonable number of colors. The plant that caught my interest the most this year was ‘Lilac Cascade.’ According to Westhoff, this […]

Read More
westhoff_lilac falls

April 16, 2015

The New Floricultura Stop Showcased A New Interspecific…

Floricultura is a new stop for Spring Trials that hosted Westhoff, Beekenkamp and Plug Connections. It is a welcome addition to the California tour, offering a backdrop of an impressive high-tech greenhouse with orchid production underway within a few feet of the Trial displays. Westhoff The first breeder the Greenhouse Grower team toured, Westhoff, is a relative newcomer to CAST. This German company brings its storied European history of breeding plants (it’s a more-than-100-year-old company) to the U.S. Here in the U.S., Westhoff is best known for its Crazytunia series of petunias, with its vivid and sometimes unexpected colors. It introduced eight new varieties in the series, with ‘Limy’ and ‘Cherry Cheesecake’ getting some pointed attention from attendees. The Hot series of lobelia captured a lot of attention. These lobelias are tested in Florida, Texas, California, Michigan and Colorado, and offer more toughness than we are used to seeing from this genus. The […]

Read More

April 16, 2015

Golden State Bulbs And Sakata: Allan Armitage Highlight…

Dr. Allan Armitage was excited to see both new and improved breeding, as well as have the chance to meet breeders and talk shop at Sakata Seed and Golden State Bulb. Sakata Seed At Sakata, we wandered through traditional crops like zinnias, New Guinea impatiens, calibrachoa and petunias. However, I have always been impressed with the SuperCal program, and this year’s introduction of vibrant colors of Light Yellow and Pink really caught my eye. The flowers of Light Yellow are significantly larger than other colors in the series. I believe the SuperCals are poised for major additional sales. Everybody was talking about ‘Dragon’s Breath’ celosia, and I wanted to see what the hype was all about. It is surely hype-worthy. The plants I observed were large with obvious vigor, and the foliage was coppery with huge, bright, rose-red flowers. Apparently this is a plant that benefits from minimal inputs, such as […]

Read More
CAST15_Suntory_Soiree1

April 15, 2015

McHutchison’s Vaughn Fletcher Reviews New Offerin…

Vaughn Fletcher with McHutchison Horticultural Distributors is part of Greenhouse Grower's Medal Of Excellence For Industry's Choice Panel. Fletcher recounted some of the standout varieties he saw while visiting Suntory Flowers and Westhoff during California Spring Trials.

Read More
Basil_Persian-AAS2015_620x329

April 15, 2015

All-America Selections Launches New Perennial Trial

All-America Selections (AAS) in partnership with Perennial Plant Association (PPA) will launch an herbaceous perennial trial, with entries due this July. It will follow many of the basics of the recently launched AAS Vegetative Ornamental trial. Entries accepted will be herbaceous perennials propagated from seed, cutting, tissue culture or bare root.

Read More
PAC Elsner_Pelargonium 'Bermuda Pink'

April 15, 2015

Kientzler Makes First Independent Display At Spring Tri…

The Spring Trials exhibit at Windmill Nursery in Buellton is a fairly new location as of 2014, and it continues to evolve, with a number of new suppliers presenting their wares. Kientzler, Terra Nova Nurseries and PAC-Elsner presented new varieties while McConkey, Pelemix and Dramm promoted their products.

Read More
Hort Couture_Asclepias Monarch's Promise

April 15, 2015

Hort Couture Boosts Butterflies With ‘MonarchR…

The new milkweed 'Monarch's Promise' aims to improve butterflies' forage options, and it's already working. Plus, chck out the action from GroLink's 11 displaying companies.

Read More
Zucchini 'Brice' (Syngenta Vegetables)

April 14, 2015

18 New Vegetables For Easy Growing And Healthy Eating

Current breeding efforts have focused on vegetable varieties that cater to small space and urban gardening trends and offer consumers good performance with minimal efforts. As a result, new, easy care vegetable introductions packed with flavor and loaded with fruits have swept onto the market. Here are 16 of the newest vegetables already on the market or hitting the market in 2016.

Read More
Asclepias-Monarch-Promise

April 14, 2015

Allan Armitage Finds Old Fashioned Plants Are New Again…

Day two of California Spring Trials was packed with breeders and all their new introductions and marketing. Allan Armitage found several varieties he felt were worth a second look.

Read More
lobularia_YOLO

April 14, 2015

Dümmen And HGTV: Allan Armitage On What Looks Promising

On his third day of California Spring Trials, Dr. Allan Armitage visited two Dümmen sites and HGTV HOME Plants. (Full disclosure: Dr. Armitage consults for HGTV HOME Plants.) Take a look at the new introductions that caught his eye during these stops.

Read More