Palace Purple HeucheraHeuchera villosa var. macrorrhiza ‘Palace Purple'
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Heuchera villosa var. macrorrhiza ‘Palace Purple'
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun, Shade
The Palace Purple Coral Bells is a garden classic, loved everywhere for its vibrant foliage in glossy shades of burgundy, purple, bronze and olive, with amethyst undersides. It forms a broad, low mound up to 2 feet across and its evergreen leaves make great edging or groundcover everywhere in your garden. It thrives in a wide range of climates and garden situations, and adds color and charm to all types of gardens. A selection of a native plant, it can be grown in natural and wildflower gardens, and on slopes and in rock gardens.
A wide range of light suits the Palace Purple Coral Bells just fine. It will grow in full sun once well-established, yet it grows in partial shade and even full shade as well. It enjoys any well-drained soil and established plants have good resistance to drought. The heat and the humidity of the southeast are tolerated well, and this low-maintenance plant is a natural everywhere. Deer generally ignore it and pests and diseases do as well.
When it comes to low-growing plants with colored foliage, nothing comes close to the plants variously called Coral Bells, Alumroot and Heuchera. Not just colorful, but unique in the depth of purples, and the long season, with little or no summer fading – a year round display of richness that lifts your garden planting into a powerful new dimension. There are many varieties, but gardener’s the world over find that “the first is still the best”, and turn to the Palace Purple Coral Bells for toughness, reliability and bold purple foliage in almost any place in the garden. These plants expand by growing short stems across the ground, so they aren’t invasive and they don’t grow tall – they stay low but spread wide, exactly what we want for edging beds, lining paths and filling spaces in rock gardens and around boulders. Super-resistant to heat and humidity and always reliable, this plant is a year-round winner that your garden can’t be without.
The Palace Purple Coral Bells is a broad mound of leaves on short, hidden stems, that grows to a height of about 8 inches, with a spread of up to 2 feet. This dense mat crowds out weeds, but it doesn’t smother neighboring plants by spreading too much, and it isn’t invasive. The leaves are the big attraction. These are glossy and star-shaped, with several pointed lobes around their edges. They are 2 to 5 inches across and somewhat like the shape of a maple leaf. The underside of the leaf is a bright purple-pink we might call amethyst, and the upper side varies, depending on the season and light levels. It can be olive green, but normally it is bright shades of burgundy-red, light purple or purple-bronze, making a wonderful bright statement in your garden.
Over the summer months thin dark-red stems rise up about 18 inches above the plant, carrying open clusters of small creamy-white flowers. These add a charming season touch, and look attractive for several weeks.
Wherever you need colorful, low-maintenance edging you should plant the Palace Purple Coral Bells. For a continuous edge, space plants 12 inches apart. Grow it among other low-growing flowers and dwarf shrubs for a lovely effect, perhaps using a gravel mulch and some interesting boulders for an attractive effect. Plant in on the levels of terracing, or as a ground-cover over a shady slope. Its bright colors lift the color-balance and contrasts in your garden, making a great display.
The Palace Purple Coral Bells is winter-hardy in zone 4, with some leaf loss, and also grows well in the warmest zones, including the south-east, with good tolerance of heat and humidity all the way into zone 9. Unlike many other perennial plants it needs little or no winter chilling to grow well in hot zones.
This plant has very good tolerance to a range of light conditions. It favors partial shade, perhaps open shade beneath deciduous trees, but once well-established it will grow well in full sun, especially in cooler zones. It will also grow well in lighter full shade, but begin to fail if planted beneath the low canopy of large evergreens. Foliage color will be greener in very low light, but still attractive. The Palace Purple Coral Bells enjoys any well-drained soil except for very acidic ones, and once established it is surprisingly drought resistant.
Very little maintenance is needed. Remove any dead leaves in early spring, and pull or snip flower stems as they finish blooming. That’s it – really. Pests and diseases don’t normally cause any problems and deer generally pay little or no attention.
Coral Bells, Heuchera, are a group of almost 40 species, all found in North America. Most come from the southwest and Mexico, but one, Heuchera villosa, comes from the east. A specific variety of it, with slightly more rounded leaves and thicker stems is called ‘variety macrorrhiza’, and it comes from the western slopes of the Appalachians. Back in the late 1970s Edgar T. Wherry, a retired botanist from the University of Pennsylvania collected some seed from a plant of this species he found with purple leaves. Some of that seed made its way to the world-renowned Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England. The curator of herbaceous plants, Brian Halliwell, grew that seed in an area behind Kew Palace, home of King George III (the mad one). He found one seedling with very purple leaves, and named it ‘Palace Purple’. Initially there was some confusion about its botanical name, and it was originally described as Heuchera micrantha. That name is still often used, but that species lives in California, and not at all where Edgar Wherry collected, so the name has been corrected to the much more likely Heuchera villosa.
This plant was named ‘Plant of the Year’ in 1991 by the Perennial Plant Association. It has fragile genetics and can’t be reproduced from seed, so our plants are carefully created in tissue-culture labs, so they have the same bold colors and vigor of the original plant from 40 years ago. Always popular, this variety is a ‘garden standard’ that is always in high demand. Order for your garden now, while our limited supply remains available.