Heuchera (Saxifragacaea)

Heuchera are evergreen, clump-forming perennials with attractive, rounded, shallowly palmately lobed leaves.  They are mainly planted as a foliage-interest plant, which set tall spikes of flowers in late spring/early-summer.   

We have clumps of Heuchera ‘Licorice’ in the back patch with neat clumps of wine-red leaves, suffused with silvery-grey between the veins, and deep red beneath, with sprays of small off-white flowers in early summer.’ Needs full sun to partial shade in moist but well-drained soil.

We added two new lighter leafed heuchera (not the burgundy-leaved heuchera ‘licorice’ which we have planted in the back patch) into the woods half circle bed last summer. They are in flower – thin spears of pale pink flowers – in late April 2019.  Very pretty and a good border edging plant.  Would like to insert a few more for variety’s sake.  Lovely! (Sadly these two heuchera have not done particularly well and perhaps should be moved to a more suitable, and slightly sunnier, spot.)

According to the RHS the woody rootstock tends to lift out of the ground.  It is recommended to mulch or lift and replant annually.   Can be propagated by division in autumn.  Like all perennials, dead-head regularly.

 

DIVIDING HEUCHERA

  • Heucheras need dividing every 3 years or the centre of the plant loses vigour.
  • Do this in early spring or early fall.
  • Lift plants and replant small, strongly growing portions from these edges – each should have good roots and two or three shoots.

It is recommended to use a garden fork; using a spade will tear more roots.  Lift the Heuchera completely out of the ground, taking as many roots with it as possible.  Shake the dirt away from the roots.  Cut the Heuchera apart with a sharp knife or spade, cutting right through the centre of the roots, dividing it in half and then into quarters.  Trim any dead or badly damaged roots.

Transplant the divided sections as soon as possible. Choose an area with light shade and mix some organic compost into the planting hole for extra nutrients.  When planting, ensure the plant’s crown (where the top of the roots join the stem) is right below soil level. Backfill the soil around the roots. Water deeply, and place a 3-inch layer of mulch around the base of the plant to protect  from heat, injury and weed competition.

 

Heuchera ‘Licorice’ 

  • Hardy perennial with ruffled, burgundy – almost black – foliage.  This is one of the best dark varieties available.
  • Position in any good, well-drained soil in sun or part shade.  Water thoroughly before planting.  Plant in soil mixed with an organic improver and suitable fertilizer.
  • Grow in a mixed herbaceous border – good as ground cover.
  • Grows 12 by 24 inches (30 x 30 cm)
  • Water well in dry spells during the first year.

For a full ‘plant profile’ and list of recommended cultivars see RHS, The Garden, September 2019: pp. 30-35.