Caramel HeucheraHeuchera villosa ‘Caramel' (PP# 16,560)
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Heuchera villosa ‘Caramel' (PP# 16,560)
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun, Shade
Caramel Coral Bells is the topping on your garden sundae. Grow this striking plant as a border edging and love how the leaves are orange in spring, turning caramel-apricot for summer, and staying like that for the rest of the year. Bouquets of tiny, creamy-white flowers brighten the summer months. Evergreen, with ground-hugging stems, it is perfect for low edging, planting on slopes and in a rock garden, growing beneath trees and along a pathway. You will love this low-maintenance solution to those awkward shady spots, and how versatile this great plant is.
Full sun suits the Caramel Coral Bells in cooler zones; partial shade everywhere; and light full shade in warmer zones is great. Grow it in any well-drained soil, and you will be amazed to see its drought resistance once it is established. The parentage of this variety means it is well-adapted to heat and humidity too, so it can be grown just about anywhere. Deer usually ignore it, and so do potential pests or diseases.
Using plants with colorful foliage is the modern way to go for weeks of color in your garden. Flowers are great, but how much better is a flowering plant with beautiful leaves the rest of the year? A group of plants that has had a lot of attention for that in recent years are the Coral Bells, or Heuchera. Once known in gardens just as a plant with handsome green leaves and tiny bright red flowers in summer, breeders and collectors have brought us a whole range of these plants where the main feature is their leaves, not flowers. From deep reds to lime greens, these brighten the foreground of our beds like nothing else can. They are easy to grow across almost all light conditions, from sun to shade, and they are tough, reliable and colorful.
If the French love one thing after foie gras, it is caramel. Often salted it appears on crepes and ice cream, and in a host of sweet dishes. So it’s no surprise that the French breeders of a fabulous new Coral Bells chose to call it ‘Caramel’. One look at it’s smokey apricot leaves and you will see exactly why. A unique and striking color in your garden, it will turn your beds into plant desserts and be the topping on your garden sundae – Monday to Sunday, year round.
Caramel Coral Bells quickly becomes a dense, low-growing mound of leaves 6 to 8 inches tall, spreading over a few years to be around 2 feet across. It is semi-evergreen, so it looks great year round, and even in cold areas it keeps many of its leaves through winter. The growth is from a cluster of thick stems that lies flat on the ground, with leaves along them, so it isn’t invasive, with no spreading underground parts. Each leaf is rounded, and held horizontally, to show itself off. It is about 3 inches across, with an undulating to ruffled border, giving this plant a rich and flamboyant effect. The leaves are covered in fine, silvery hairs, and change color several times as they develop. Young leaves are a slightly grayed orange with slightly redder borders, while in summer they become an amazing apricot with brown overtones – caramel – with undersides that are a deep burgundy red. In summer tall, wand-like stems rise 18 inches above the foliage, topped with clusters of creamy-white flowers, adding an airy atmosphere as they wave in the breeze. The overall effect of this great plant is unique and striking, making it a beautiful and novel addition to your garden.
Nothing works better for this plant than to place it at the front of a bed, as an edging plant. Use it as an accent, or as a continuous border. Space plants about 12 inches apart to form a continuous border within a couple of seasons. Mass plant it as groundcover under tall shrubs, or filling those difficult narrow spaces found in many gardens. Plant it among rocks and boulders, on slopes or in rock gardens, or on the levels of terracing and at the foot of walls. In warmer zones it is a great filler for planter boxes and pots, underneath larger plants or softening the edges.
Among perennials, growing well in both hot and cold areas is unusual, but Caramel Coral bells is hardy even in zone 4, and it comes from a species known for resisting the heat and humidity of the southeast, so it thrives even in zone 9, needing almost no winter chill to grow properly.
Few plants grow so well across so many different levels of light as the Caramel Heuchera. It will grow well in full sun in cooler zones, if the soil isn’t too dry, and thrives in partial shade, with morning sun and afternoon shade, all across the country. In warmer zones it will grow in light full shade, although the leaves may be a little greener in summer if you do that. As for soil, it is equally easy-going, doing well in any soil that is well-drained, so that question is easily dealt with. Few plants grow as well across so many different conditions as this one.
Remember to water weekly during the first summer, but established plants are surprisingly drought resistant, considering their exotic look. Pests and diseases are seen only very rarely, and even deer usually leave these plants alone. Once the flower stems begin to dry and look a little untidy, you can remove them with a simple pull. Clean up any dead foliage in spring, and you are set for another great year with the Caramel Coral Bells.
Coral Bells is sometimes also called alumroot, and they are called Heuchera by botanists and plant aficionados. There are around 40 different species growing in North America, mostly in the southwest and into Mexico. Heuchera villosa grows from Virginia south into Georgia and west into Tennessee. It is noted for its great resistance to drought, heat and humidity. Hantay is a community outside Lille, in northern France. It is there that Sandrine and Thierry Delabroye have their nursery, growing and breeding perennials. In 2003 they spotted an odd seedlings growing near a row of Heuchera villosa ‘Autumn Bride’ in their nursery. That plant has green leaves and showy white flowers late in the season. This new seedlings was most probably from those plants, but its male parent isn’t known, so it could be a hybrid. After trialing it, and showing it would keep its ‘specialness’ when multiplied, they patented it in 2006, and were given European Plant Breeder’s Rights in 2007. They gave it the name ‘Caramel’, which perfectly describes this lovely plant.
These Coral Bells with ornamental, colored leaves are proving incredibly popular, and the unique tones of ‘Caramel’ have made it a hit with everyone who sees it. You will love it too, and be amazed at how versatile it is in your garden. Order now – supplies are limited.