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Coral Bells And Cousins

by Shelly Nold

Heuchera, tiarella, or heucherella are three great perennials that are deer-resistant and perfect for the shade garden, although many of the hybrids are quite tolerant of sun if the soil is moist and well-drained.

Heuchera or coral bells are the most popular and widely available of the group, grown for their foliage and not their flowers. The most well-known hybrid is Heuchera americana ‘Palace Purple’ with its large, deep-purple leaves. Its best color display is in the spring and fall. In the summer, it is not uncommon to see leaves of any heuchera change color and become muted or greener due to the heat and humidity. Or try ‘Southern Comfort’ with its large, showy amber leaves, which can become pinker in the spring and dark wine in the fall.

Tiarella or foamflower has much smaller, ivy-shaped leaves, interesting foliar color combinations, and consistent and showy flowering. Foamflowers were almost always used as a flowering groundcover for a shady garden, but recently have made their way into the mixed shady perennial border and the eclectic or collector’s garden.

Heucherella or foamy bells are a cross between heuchera and tiarella. This new combination brings the large leaves of heuchera and the striking foliage color combinations of the tiarella into one plant. Heucherella ‘Alabama Sunrise,‘ shown above, is an excellent example, growing only 12 to 16 inches tall, with white spiky flowers in the spring and fabulous foliage almost year-round, a must-have for the shade or part-sun garden.

Shelly nold is a horticulturist and owner of The Plant Kingdom. Send stories and ideas to her at The Plant Kingdom, 4101 Westport Road, Louisville, KY 40207.


ASK THE GARDENER
by Angie McManus

Do I need to bring my elephant ear bulbs indoors for the winter? They have been really great this year and I don’t want to lose them.

In Kentucky, we have to bring our elephant ears inside to protect them from our winter weather. They are very easy to overwinter and well worth the effort. Elephant ears can be stored indoors during the winter months and then planted back in the garden or in a container next spring.

Before or just after the first hard freeze, cut back the foliage of your bulb and dig it up from the soil, being careful not to damage the actual bulb. Shake off any excess soil and place it in a paper bag for storage. Wear gloves when you dig up your plant because the tuber/roots can cause skin irritation for some gardeners. If the bulb or roots have any moisture to them, lay them out to dry before storing them.

They should be kept in a cool, dark space such as a closet or a dry basement. These tuberous bulbs should not be exposed to freezing temperatures or moisture during this time. They can be planted again directly outdoors after May 10 to enjoy for another season.

 


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Go to www.KentuckyLiving.com, click on Home & Garden, then “Ask The Gardener.”

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