A Guide to Growing Colorful Coral Bell Plants

Adding a splash of color to your landscape doesn’t have to be limited to flowers. Coral bells (Heuchera spp.) are in style right now! Previously a forgotten and underappreciated garden plant, their popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, with hundreds of varieties to choose from. Heuchera, or native heuchera, are some of the hardiest plants you’ll ever raise. They thrive in USDA zones 3 to 9 (find your zone here), don’t mind the heat or the winter, and are only seldom troubled by hungry deer and rabbits. And I know because I’m always fighting hungry rabbits in my garden, and I’m happy to say that they’ve never harmed my vast collection of coral bells.

Midsummer spikes of tiny blooms like minuscule bells attract butterflies and hummingbirds to these perennials. The brilliant, gorgeous foliage is the actual reason to nurture this knockout of a plant. The beautiful smooth, frilly, or ruffled leaves come in a spectrum of hues, ranging from lime green to brilliant crimson, coppery caramel, and burgundy so dark it’s virtually black. Their brilliant hues persist throughout the whole season, even into fall. The best part is that they return year after year as the seasons change. When planted as borders or as an accent in groups of three or more in your garden, coral bells are eye-catching.

Are you sold on the concept and wish to start your own garden? Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about effectively producing coral bells.

Coral Bell Plants

What sort of light do coral bells need?

Unlike other plants that require either sun or shade, these hardy plants may grow in either! If they get 4 to 6 hours of direct sunshine, they usually blossom better and have more intense colors. A few older varieties demand a lot of shade, so check the plant tag or description to be sure you’re getting the right one. Tip: The best location is one that gets early light and afternoon shade.

How to take care of coral bells?

While coral bells tolerate a wide range of soil types, they dislike remaining wet or being in thick clay soil. So, before planting, modify clay soils with compost to promote drainage. Otherwise, give them some light and keep them hydrated for the first season or two as they create a robust root system. If you want to, you can deadhead (i.e. cut off) fading flower spikes, but it’s not required. In the spring, they also love a granular slow-release fertilizer. Apply a layer of mulch to keep weeds at bay and to protect the roots.

Cut off any scruffy foliage from coral bells in spring.

Leave the leaves alone during the winter, then clip away any odd foliage after the plant has leafed out in the spring. But allow it some time to fill in so you don’t prune too aggressively accidentally. Older plants may heave out of the ground throughout the winter owing to freeze-thaw cycles, but just pull them up with a shovel and replant (also, mulching may help prevent heaving).

Coral Bell Plants

You can grow coral bells in containers.

If you don’t have room in your garden beds, coral bells look great in containers. To keep them looking nice all season, make sure the container has a hole in the bottom for optimal drainage and feed them periodically with a water-soluble fertilizer. They can stay in their pots during the winter if you reside in USDA zones 6 or warmer. They’ll do better planted in the ground in cooler sections of the country.


Coral bells (Heuchera spp.) are a shade-loving perennial that produces bell-shaped flowers in shades of pink, red, or white atop tall stems in late spring and early summer. The foliage of coral bells is often showier than the flowers, with leaves in shades of green, bronze, or burgundy. Furthermore, the leaves of some coral bell cultivars are variegated with colorful patterns. Coral bells are a low-maintenance plant that is perfect for adding color and interest to shady gardens.