Heucheras, Tiarellas and Heucherellas
As summer draws to a close we start to think of our winter containers and interesting plants to take us through the coming months of shorter days and bad weather in an effort to also entice us out into the garden. When it comes to Heucheras, Tiarellas and Heucherellas, I’m like a kid in a sweetshop, surrounded by a kaleidoscope of glowing vibrant colours of copper umbers, amber oranges, fiery reds, brassy yellows and fresh lime greens, through gloomy winter months they are ablaze and shine.
Heucheras are a genus of herbaceous perennial plants native to North America, USA and North Mexico, these plants thrive in all conditions, originating from various habitats with varying preferences from dry arid canyons to sprouting up in the saline rich air of windy, rocky ocean shorelines.
Named after Johann Heinrich von Heucher an 18th Century Viennese Physician and keen botanist of medicinal plants. Commonly known medicinally as Alum Root it is used in native America as a powerful astringent, for sore throats and mouths, and a tonic to aid digestion, although we don’t recommend consumption as the plant is known to also cause kidney and liver failure.
With their palmate leaves that are either fanciful and rippled or gracefully architectural, with a foamy mass of tiny star like flowers on long pinnacles in either white, pink or red, they have a thick woody rootstock. Providing year round interest through its foliage and flowers, Heuchera’s are ideal for containers and hanging baskets. Coming in a patchwork quilt range of colours, some have a trailing habit, some make good ground cover and are also great in borders. Leaves can also change in response to lower temperatures resulting in dramatic autumn colours.
They are tough, versatile plants that don’t require constant watering, but also hate heavy wet soil and if you are growing on such you will need to add lots of grit and compost. Plants remain in leaf year round tolerating dry conditions. They are generally pest free and you’ll be glad to know that slugs and snails stay at bay but you do need to keep one eye out for vine weevils which like to seek solace under the umbrella of foliage. A general rule is that lighter leaves indicate that a plant is more tolerant of shade and darker leaves indicate a plant that is more tolerant of sunlight. Leaves require a spot of spring cleaning in the early months of each year to deadhead and remove any faded leaves and old flower stems, but otherwise it is a pretty low maintenance plant which can also be transplanted from pot to bed as it grows.
When some plants start to fade at the end of the summer season, this is when Heucheras really come into their own with their striking leaves and colours.
Tiarellas are shade loving plants and will produce an abundance of flowers without the need for sunshine although it is recommended that they only get 50% shade preferably later in the day. Great under shrubs and deciduous trees, they are very tolerant of shade as they are native to North American woodlands. They glow in the darker corners of the garden with their fluffy star-like flower spikes standing 12-16” tall which appear in early spring like little diamonds. Leaves come in a motley of varying heart and lobed shapes, with maroon stripes and spots.
Heucherella is an evergreen perennial. A garden hybrid, resulting from a cross between Heuchera and Tiarella. An intergeneric hybrid such as this is rare, showing similarities of both parent plants across the species.
Bred originally in France in 1912, most have the strongest colours when grown in part shade. The brilliant colours come from the Heuchera parent whereas the leaf patterns and shapes come from Tiarellas. Known in the USA as “Foaming Bells” they flower in early spring.
Our varieties below were bred by Terra Nova Nurseries in Oregon USA.
On our catalogue, we also have Heuchera Little Cuties which is a series of plants intended for indoor pots but can also be used outside for small containers at just 15x20cm in size and flowering between April and August. It has the same colourful leaf interest as its big siblings.
As well as the many possibilities of creating eye catching container displays by complimenting many other plants, these varieties can be used to brighten up the boarder where other plants are dying back forming brown patches of earth. Leading us into the transition period between Summer and Winter and the colder months with their warm rainbow of varying colours.