Top 10 Heuchera Hybrids

by Patrick Muir on March 30, 2011

Heuchera 'Snow Storm'

Before the heuchera revolution, this lowly plant came in any color you wanted as long as it was green. Even the flowers and the leaf shape were truly insignificant. On the positive side, it was a workhorse plant that performed well even in dry shade. Heucheras are native to the United States and they require  less maintenance than other perennials in areas like not having to be constantly divided for success. The potential was there if only it could be more flashy and less boring.

The first sport (a naturally occurring mutation) of note was discovered in England in the late 1980’s. ‘Purple Palace’ , named after Kew Palace, sported rich, deep purple, ruffled leaves and went on to be the Perennial Plant of the  Year in 1991.

At the same time, Dan Heims who was starting Terra Nova Nursery in Canby, OR, also stumbled upon a variegated seedling with red flowers which he named ‘Snow Storm’. Heims is now known for having the largest and most prolific breeding program in the world of heucheras.

But it was that chance seedling that was a catalyst that shattered the green only perception of heuchera. That catalyst has led the way for the explosion of new colors, leaf shapes and textures we’re witnessing today.

I’ve asked Ken Wood, the nursery manager at Family Tree in Shawnee, KS, to give me his top 10 heuchera hybrids. He informed me that the assignment would be easy because the list is already in his head. I took it from there.

Southern Comfort

Giant 9″  leaves on a 14″ tall and 2′ wide plant. Similar to H. ‘Caramel’ in height and sienna color. As evening draws closer and the air temperature becomes cooler,  the leaves take on a coral-orange hue.

Purple Petticoats

Dimensions are 12″ high and 12″ wide. Deep purple stems host white flowers. The ruffling is so pronounced you can see the bright purple undersides of the leaves.

Citronelle

Lime-yellow leaves with white blossoms help this sport of ‘Caramel’ stop traffic in your garden. This variety is more heat tolerant than other heucheras  It is clump forming making it a great ground cover. If you’re using it as a ground cover, cut the blossoms off early so the plant puts all its energy into clumping leaves. 12″ high and wide plant.


Blackout

Creamy colored bell shaped flowers stand out against the near-black  leaves. Great for edging or containers. Blackout sports creamy flowers on an 18″ tall and 12″ wide plant.

Berry Smoothie

Its large 5″ rose-pink leaves  darken to pink-purple with  soft pink flowers. Performs well in our summer heat and maintains its color throughout the season.  18″ tall and wide plant.

Electra

Beautiful  red veins on a golden leaf are stunning and cooler temperatures bring on  more  of a chartreuse background. Very different from anything I’ve seen to date. 6-12″ tall and 9-12″ wide

Georgia Peach

Giant 8″ leaves are peach colored with silver veining at first and intensifies to a rose purple. Tolerates heat and humidity well. I even found a source declaring this variety works in full sun. But this kind of advice might work in Oregon but not out here on the prairie. 14″ high and 24-30″ wide plant.

Beaujolais

Big 5″ burgundy leaves with a silver overlay and deep-purple veins. This is a salt tolerant perfect for edging sidewalks.12″ high and wide plant.

Venus

Large silver leaves with green veins. Design possibilities with Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ could be interesting. 8″ high and 12″ wide plant.

Encore

Deep rose-purple leaves with a silver sheen, dark veins and a vibrant purple undersides. 12″ high and wide.

Patrick's Garden

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Greggo April 2, 2011 at 1:12 am

Nice overview, heucheras for me are difficult to fit into the landscape from a design standpoint. So many choices,

Reply

Patrick April 2, 2011 at 10:30 am

Hey Greggo,

Thanks for stopping by. This will be my first time using heuchera in my garden. I’m planning on using Japanese painted ferns with them. I’m most excited about using the ‘Venus’ heuchera with ‘Jack Frost’ Brunnera. Wish me luck.

Patrick

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Dee/reddirtramblings May 5, 2011 at 10:41 am

Of that group Patrick, I only have the first, Southern Comfort, but what a fantastic plant it is. It is can be grown in partial sun. It has the largest leaves, and what beautiful color. I also think Ruffled Petticoats might jump into my shopping cart. Others I love are ‘Obsidian’ and ‘Sweet Tea.’

Reply

Patrick May 5, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Hey Dee,
Southern Comfort totally rocks. What a color and big bold plants. Got to love it. Thanks for stopping by.
Best,
Patrick

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bakingbarb July 15, 2011 at 10:49 am

I need more of these! They pack a colorful punch in a small package.

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Patrick July 15, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Barb, I totally agree.

Reply

Penny April 26, 2012 at 5:06 am

Great site!! Lot’s of info!!
Love the photo’s
I have a few of these, but most of them are currently unavailable in this country! I buy seeds… and whatever plants I can! I have about 15 … hope to breed a colour of my own one day! lol
Thanks for the top ten…great idea!

Reply

Fritz June 20, 2012 at 3:44 am

I love these plants, but have a difficult time keeping them alive I. a dry shade bed under an oak. Brunneria and hostas are fine there, but no heuchera seems to like it. Any suggestions?

Reply

Patrick June 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm

I’ve had the same problem with heucheras. I think they thrive in a part shade area where the color is richer and the flowers are more substantial. There are so many new and different varieties of hosta out there and that”s where I’d recommend you should invest your money. Go to hostaguy.com to look for exciting new hybrids.

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