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Talk about longevity! Heucheras age beautifully.

Perfect perennials for the time-, space-, and water-short 90s, plants in the heuchera clan (pronounced hew-ker-a) are compact, easy to grow, moderate in water use, and durable. In most of the West, their neat clumps of green, marbled, or purple foliage stay low and good-looking all year (where winters are severe, foliage dies to the ground). Flowers bloom from spring into summer, growing denser each year; after five or six years, divide, renew soil, and replant vigorous divisions. A few plants add a lacy finish to a landscape or bouquets. For more drama, plant masses of one kind and color. Unusual colors and kinds are most available in spring, but fall planting gives better bloom the first year. Watch for less common choices at native and perennial specialty nurseries, and at sales by botanic gardens and native plant societies. Which ones to choose? Easiest to grow and by far the most widely sold are coral bells (H. sanguinea), sold in sixpacks to gallon-size containers. Bressingham hybrids, also widespread, are sold in 4-inch and gallon containers. They have slightly larger flowers in mixed colors from bright red to coral, pink, and white. Choice selections are often named, such as pink Chatterbox' and coral Patricia Louise'. Many are sold by mail. More native heucheras are trickling into the market. Different areas often have different kinds or sell them under different names. Popular, easy-to-grow selections include Canyon Delight', Canyon Pink', Weott' (also sold as Martha Roderick'), and H. micrantha. Most are easy growing Near the coast, give heucheras full sun or bright shade; inland, bright filtered shade is best. Add compost or other amendments as needed to build a rich, welldrained soil. Plants bloom best with regular watering but once established can thrive with surprisingly little. A few kinds have special needs. Three foot H. maxima must have good drainage and not too much water. In coastal areas, it does well in partial shade with no summer watering once established. in our test plot, only Palace Purple' had any pest problems. Watch the plant base, where leaves join the main stem, for tiny gray mealybugs; spray with insecticidal soap or systemic insecticide as needed.
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Publication:Sunset
Date:Sep 1, 1990
Words:361
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