So in assessing my winter garden damage, it looks like the only thing that suffered are the majority of my Heucheras. But I'm not really blaming it on the winter because it seems like I've been seeing a pattern of decline over the years, and this was a very mild winter. I only have one Heuchera that comes back every year looking good and full, and that is Guardian Angel. The rest just dwindle away, it seems.
So I'd really love to know if you have ones that do exceptionally well. I'd like to find a good peach/orange one and a dark one to replace my losers.
I'm also wondering if the problem is me...my soil, lack of fertilization program? Everything else in my shade garden is thriving.
I don't know which Heucheras are the hardiest, but mine seem to winter ok, whether they are in the containers they were purchased in or planted by me. Almost all our Heucheras are in containers, but the in-ground plants have done well, too. I try to keep the containers in a somewhat protected area for the harsh (usually) winter weather. Any that are really fragile or babies we bring into the house. When placed outdoors again, they seem to thrive.
If your plants are inground, I would check to see if any living thing is eating the roots for winter dinner. We lost a red twig dogwood last winter, and in the spring unearthed a hutch of little grey bunny wabbits almost directly below. Just guessing. :)
I think my favorite is Georgia Peach. I almost killed it last year by separating it, but she's doing fine now. Despite a mild winter, lots of heaving crowns need attention.
Yeah, I'm really thinking the winter is not what's killing them. Our winters are typically not severe.
I have some in the ground, and some are in black nursery pots that have been sunken in the ground... I moved some into pots a few years when I discovered voles eating the hosta and a few other things...so I moved many plants into sunken pots or wire cages to protect them. Guardian Angel is actually one that is planted in the ground.
speaking of dividing, occasionally I'd find a Heuchera in my garden struggling, with many dead parts to the crown, so I would dig it up and separate out the dead parts in hopes to revive the rest of it. That hasn't worked for me either. Two years ago, I bought a huge dark one at a nursery and because it was so large, I split it into two halves. Only one tiny bit of one crown is still among the living now. I just don't get it.
I've only had a few Heuchera so far, but mostly they just seem to get smaller each year. The only one that hasn't (yet) is Palace Purple. I know they're sold everywhere now and pretty common, but I got 3 on clearance during last year's drought. This spring they look great, even growing in dry soil beneath a very competitive pine tree.
And as much as I've abused Christa by relocating it four times, it looks the same each year. Maybe it will grow if I stop digging it up.
Lol, Eleven, I just added Christa last year- doh! Well, after googling some more tonight I have learned two things- 1) Heucheras prefer either slightly alkaline OR slightly acidic soli, depending on which article you read, and 2). They just all dwindle away eventually (like, couple of years) and - quote- "do not get better with time" (like my beloved hosta).
So, with that in mind, I am determined to just buy the cheap, pretty ones as I find them and treat them as short lived plants. *shrugs*
But I highly recommend Guardian Angel if you want one that will stick around- and evidently, Palace Purple, which I don't have!!
I have had what I think are Palace Purple and Lime Rickey or Key Lime Pie for about six years, and they continue to flourish. Also I leave them in at lease partial sun unless or until it becomes very hot and the leaves start to burn.
Besides those stated above, I've got Venus, Marmalade, Shanghai, Peach Melba, Caramel, Pinot Gris, a few I can't remember and some NOIDS. They all flourish in sun or part shade. The sunny location is not full sun, but it gets about 4 hours in the afternoon. If I think it's too much, it gets moved to an eastern exposure with only early morning sun.
I've had Guardian Angel for six years as well and have never divided it.
Peach Melba is one that continues to decline on me. I love the color, so I keep replacing them, but sure would like to find a better performer in a similar color. I don't have a great deal of direct sun anywhere in my garden...lots of dappled sun and bright shade. I think Venus is one I have that is doing well also.
Firefly. But the ones I grew, not the ones I bought. Of the three I purchased as plants, two died. Of the seven I raised from seed, three years ago, I have them all. I just transplanted two of my seven to a new garden, and despite neglect, they have thrived. I've never lost one, and bloom is reliable every year. I divided one to give to a friend, threw the rest in a pot, forgot about it, and it dried out. Just for the heck of it, I threw some water on it. It not only survived - it's ready for transplant.
The first picture is of one I transplanted last December on a warm (for Chicago) day. It is just starting to bloom.
I grew it from seed. I also grew Dales Strain for a friend at the same time and it has never thrived, or bloomed.
I gave up on Cherries Jubilee, Monet, Bridal Veil, Pewter Veil, Persian Carpet, Chatterbox and a number of others. I bought multiples of all of them. I cringe when I think of the money I spent!
I lost Firefly a couple of years ago, but this past year I did lose a bunch of my heuchera. There isn't any rhyme or reason as to which I lost - I even lost Brownies and I didn't think anything would kill that.
Our winter was quite mild. I question if the culprit was the winter - my thoughts are that our drought and temps over the 100 degree mark last Summer. Wondering what to expect this year...
Noreaster, so far this year the following Heucheras appear to be doing well in my garden: Lime Marmalade, Marmalade, Electra, Tiramisu, Christa, Frosted Violet, Venus and of course Palace Purple. Of the darker ones that did well last year: Obsidian, Blackout. I planted a pile of new ones last year. It's a little too early to tell how well the new ones are doing. It appears as though I haven't lost anything but then I haven't done a thorough clean up of all my garden beds yet. From the posts I've read H. 'Melting Fire' can be difficult but mine appears to have survived. I will post pictures of the new heucheras/heucherellas when the garden has greened up a little more.
I plan to buy Pistache, Southern Comfort, Tara, Amber Waves, Purple Petticoats and Encore this year
BTW I planted hostas 'Parhelion' and 'Blue Hawaii' after I saw yours.
Carolyn, so sorry that you lost some heucheras. They looked so healthy in your posts. I'm tempted to divide 'Tiramisu' and 'Lime Marmalade' as they are a good size. Has anyone successfully divided these?
Purple petticoats is one that i've had and lost. Well, I still have it, but it looks lousy and always has. I question if I have enough sun for that one.
Irawon, I was just out checking out the hosta eyes and Parhelion and Blue Hawaii both had huge increases this year, so I am very excited to see them. I guess I should really be thanking the neighbor for cutting down the trees that gave me extra light back there.
I don't have any heucherellas, but saw some orangey ones that interest me. Maybe I should give those a shot.
Carolyn, sorry about your losses. I find it particularly frustrating to lose a plant when you can't ascertain the reason.
Good to know everyone's experiences with the various heuchera cultivars. Eleven's 'Christa' looks healthy and appears to be in open sunlight. My question is ... was it moved 4 times because it wasn't doing well in the other 3 locations or were the moves purely for esthetic reasons. It appears to me that Cathy 166 seems to be on the right track with her heucheras and my question to her would be ... does she fertilize and water regularly and if so, what and how much? From Noreaster's comments if I end up buying 'Purple Petticoats' I will make sure to give it more sunlight.
My heuchera 'Citronelle' has struggled for about 3 years now. I 've moved it 3 times. From acidic soil (location 1) to more alkaline soil and to a more sunny position (location 2). I also added lime in its second location. The leaves became more crispy. I interpreted this to mean that it was getting too much sun and moved it to filtered light (location 3). I now believe that it didn't get enough water. In its third location in less sunlight 'Citronelle' has developed some black spots. So I'm going to try a bit of sulphur. I still have not decided whether the problem is genetics or environment. It took 3 attempts to get my 'Marmalade' to grow, three attempts from divisions I received from a neighbourhood friend, whose initial purchase flourished. 'Marmalade's' last location emulated my neighbour's location, northern exposure, not shaded and lots of water. So, from my experience I believe that if you start out with a healthy plant to begin with heucheras like a more alkaline soil and some sunlight. I'm also going to try adding a bit of Milorganite to the soil as well as some extra compost around all my heucheras to see whether this makes a lot of difference.
It also occurred to me yesterday as I was trimming dead foliage from my older 'Palace Purple' plants which had developed more woody branching than the younger plants that perhaps as with trees, heucheras have a limited life expectancy. I rejuvinate my other perennials by means of clump divisions. Should this not also apply to heucheras???
Since I have a lot of 'Palace Purple' plants (old plants and seedlings) available in my garden I'm going to experiment: alkaline v. acidic soil; sun v. shade; lots of water v. minimal water; fertilizer v. no fertilizer. The only drawback to this experiment is that 'Palace Purple' appears to be almost indestructable. So, I've talked myself out of the whole experiment because I already have 'Palace Purple' in acidic/alkaline; lots of water/little water; sun/shade. As Eleven states 'Palace Purple' is one tough heuchera. So that leaves fertilizer/no fertilizer and division. I can probably guess at the fertilizer/no fertilizer outcome. So, I'm going to consult with my neighbour who has aquired quite a few different heucheras which seem to thrive in her yard (former unstripped farmland/ regular additions of mushroom compost) and I will get back with what she says. How's that for talking yourself out of a pile of work?
irawon, one of the articles I read pretty much said that they are not a long lived plant (I think that primarily is referring to the myriad of newer cultivars of which there are so many). And by long lived, I think the writer meant, do expect to get more than a handful of seasons out of one...which made me feel better about my gardening skills, because maybe it's not just me!
One interesting thing I noticed. I was out looking at Guardian Angel. There are virtually NO tall woody stems in there anywhere. The leaves and stems are nearly flush to the ground as the day I bought it six years ago. Purple Petticoats, on the other hand has woody towers...is it trying to reach the sun, I don't know!
I went to a lecture with Dan Heims on March 17 of this year. He said the most important thing for heuchera is good drainage. He also said very little or no fertilizer. The species of these plants grow in rock crevises. I think we are just to good to these plants and they die.
What i do to some of my plants the have long necks is cut them, in the spring. Then push the tops in the ground in a shady area. They will root by summer and you have lots of new plants. Most of the new ones will not make the long necks. I might take some pitures of this and post.
We have acid soil here and have luck with almost all heuchera and heucherellas. Most of mine are in large pots. I have never had any luck with 'pistache'
If you look at this picture you see a stump of 'Midnight Bayou'. I was thinking it was dead. Not so, it is showing buds on the side and I'll bet my May June it will be full and lush.
My big problem has been root weevil. I think that is now under control.
Some Heucherellas will die to the ground but come back in the spring. They will take more shade than Heuchera. I'm zone 7
Hm, all my beds are raised with good drainage and I never seem to get around to fertilizing anything. I think I will take the ones in pots and make sure their potting soil is very well draining.
I do have some that look almost dead...just the tiniest bit of live looking tissue near the center. I will give them time to catch up, but I can't imagine them filling out to the point that they look good.
This is what I was explaining in my above post. DG will only let me post one picture of some reason. This is a very sad 'Lipstick' for some reason ( I think weevils) I had it in the greehouse over winter but it just is not thriving.
Thats right! Keep the soil moist but not wet. Not full shade but a little morning sun is good. No hot afternoon sun. You can use root tone if you want. Not sure if it helps or not. I do it both ways. Some time you lose a few but you would have lost the plant anyway.
Thanks, Springcolor. When I look at the roots, they look pretty ratty and stringy...but isnt that what Heuchera roots typically look like? Hostas have distinctive roots...like plump noodles. It's hard for me to tell what is a healthy Heuchera root and what's not.
I am going to set up a little Heuchera infirmary and try your technique out. The first patients will be three Hollywoods and that Purple Petticoats.
I wanted you to look for root weevil on the dead ones. But if they have roots then its not that. Remember i'm zone 7. you are zone 5. I'm in the 40's at night and 50-60 day. Cool moist conditions here. When you make the cuttings look for white stem at the cut part. No brown stuff inside that is dead.
Springcolor, thanks for the tutorial on the woody heuchera stems. I will try your method on my 'Lime Marmalade'. Thanks for passing on Heims' advice re drainage and fertilization.
Noreaster, your 'Guardian Angel' is a beaut and looks nice with 'Citronelle'. My Citronelle has not increased in size and I've had it for over 3 years. Same with Caramel. I got 'Binoche' last year. It doesn't get much sun and it's stayed the same color when it came up.
Shoot, I saw kassandra last year at Lowes and didn't buy them. I will keep an eye out for that one for sure.
So, I planted the new ones today and dug up and examined my ailing Peach Melbas. PM had virtually no fine roots...just the woody part. These were in pots, not exposed to hungry critters or anything that would explain the lack of roots. When I pulled Binoche out it's pot, it was a solid block of roots...bone dry because there was virtually no soil left. And it looks full and healthy! So maybe Heucheras DO like to suffer??? I planted all the new ones in the soil but aded more compost and some perlite.
That is very pretty and healthy looking. Yeah, they were only $6- could not resist that. I swear when I saw them last year they were priced at least twice that, which is probably part of why I didn't get them at that time. What lighting conditions are yours in during the summer? Last year I added Christa, hoping it would be a good replacement for Peach Melba, but didn't like the color as much in the shade. I have one more sunny spot I moved Christa to, and the color is better there. I like the color of my Peach Melbas in the shade I have, but they just dwindle away on me.
This is were the Kassadra is. They get the first light in the AM until about 1. Then a bit of afternoon sun but only in the summer. This is the northwest corner of the house. They had shade from the rodies but ,my brother the landscaper did some pruning. I asked for him to scale them back, then went to dump a load of trash. Well, be careful what you ask for!!! He is very good, they will grow back for the needed shade. It was a bit to much anyway. Last summer I put a beach umberella in there on hot days. The Kassadra can take that much sun but there is solar power and golden zebra in the potts too. They got kind of crispy.
Kassandra has a bit of a greenish cast to it later in the season. My Christa is still very small. It's in the same pot as Kassandra, who knew that one was going to get so big. I have to watch that Christa gets a chance.
Carolyn, do you have any time for a few pictures?
AHA! Guess what, Springcolor. Today I was looking at my sickly group of Peach Melbas. I pulled one out of the pot- not much left to the roots but I figured that's because there wasn't much left of the plant. The bottom of the woody stem was reddish brown. I snapped it off to see if there was white, living tissue. What I found, in the center was LARVAE. Yuck, yuck, and yuck. So I think I do indeed have those root weevil things, though I have never noticed them (probably too busy hunting slugs). Can you tell me what you use to control them?
My Heucheras are doing well for me this year although I'm in a different area (GA) than those of you who have responded so far. I diveded a few of mine because they seemed to be growing away from the ground. I don't fertilize other than adding mulch and compost. Here's a few pics, I tried adding 5 but it would not load.
1 Southern Comfort (divided)
2 Caramel (divided) and a small Blackout, smaller than last year but replanted and doing OK
3 sorry I was unable to rotate the photo, it should go 1/4 turn to the left. Citronelle (divided), Obsidian, and Tiramisu
1 Autumn Bride with a small Tiramisu in front
2 Green Spice
3 this one would look better rotated right 1/4, it's Brownies (divided) in the foreground, flanked by Encore and Cathedral Windows
4 This is Heucherelle Sweet Tea and it's located at our cabin in NC. If I knew anything at all about using a camera you'd be able to see the Tiarellas growing all around. All I need to do with this one is leave it alone.
Are you sure your first photo is southern comfort? It should be orange brighter than say caramel. Your Citronelle is very nice mine is always sick looking. Your last picture is gorgeous. When DG has the photo contest you should enter that sweet tea and water picture. Really like that!
Thanks for the nice words, Springcolor. That is indeed a Southern Comfort and it is looking more green than I've noticed in the past. There have been times when it has looked very much like the Brownies and the Caramel although the foliage of the Caramel is generally smaller. I did go out a while ago and noticed new growth with more peachy creamy color. All of my plants are looking better this Spring than in recent years because we are actually getting normal rainfall, or at least close to it. By late July and August things often look pretty hammered around here.
The Sweet Tea Heucarelle pic does look better than I'd feared but I have to say it would be difficult to take a bad picture of that spot. A lot of natural beauty there.
And those are Trillium near the Green Tea. They are so nice when the first come up but they are all laying down for a rest around here now.
My new Caramels are taking on quite a greenish hue themselves. I'm not sure if they are being influenced, chameleon like, by the nearby gold carex or the light they are getting. I don't really mind it, it's just a new look for this bed for me- Dolce Peach Melba used to be in this spot.
In the far background you can see those other new ones, Kassandra in a pot. Those are still pretty orangey...about the same color as Peach Melba.
Noreaster, that is a lovely planting. My carex 'Ice Dance' died the first winter and I haven't tried any others. What is the cultivar you have AND do you have any advice on growing it. My 'Caramel' that I stuck under a cedar has survived but hasn't grown much. I bought a second, which has no root competition. And my 'Southern Comfort' I got from sanannie's plant sale in late May.
Pic 1: 'Caramel' under a limbed up cedar. Some of the leaves appear greener.
Pic 2: New 'Caramel' planted in front of Acteae/Cimicifuga 'Chocoholic'. I think it was a bit stressed when the irrigation system was turned off.
Pic 3: 'Southern Comfort'
Thanks, guys. I'm pretty happy with the new caramels, even if they lost their peachy tone. I like it next to actea, irawon. Mine are next to "brunette", which has done pretty well for me.
That Carex is Bowles Golden. I've had it since 2006 and for a long time it did nothing. I had it in deep, dry shade. Moved it into bright shade where it is now and it got a little better. Finally, I put it in a pot and sunk that in the ground and now it's doing great...I think it needed more moisture than I was giving it. I really like it.
Perhaps I had carex 'Ice Dance in too much shade. I also removed the dead foliage in the fall and perhaps I wasn't supposed to do that. I also bought 'Kassandra' on Father's Day at a good price. It's still in the pot. I haven't dared move anything in this heat.
My Miracles are now 4 years old and still do nothing interesting by way of color. Furthermore, in a bed with Caramels, Peach Melba, and Southern Comfort, they are the least thriving. I don't know if I am doing something wrong. But, my instinct tells me these are hot-house (or, perfect field) condition cultivars that are going to be disappointing to most gardeners.
Don't give up hope. I bought a large Miracle from Lowes and it took a couple of years before it turned gorgeous colors. I get the nice coloration in the Spring on both my Miracles. This one in the picture I got at a co op. Both my Miracles are in separate beds outside with a number of other heuchera, heucherella and tiarellas and they are all thriving.
It did take several years for any coloration to appear on my Miracles and initially I had the same thoughts on this plant that you have.
I have one in morning sun with afternoon shade and the other gets even less sun than the other, although it is not in full shade - more like a dappled sun. However, at the time time of year that I am seeing the coloration there are no leaves on my trees or shrubs. I don't know if the amount of sun during the previous year plays into it or not.