Please help me with Heuchera color!

GardenObsessedNewbie(7b)June 18, 2012

Hello to everyone. I am a very new gardener. I actually wouldn't even classify myself that way because I think you must have a vast array of knowledge first. I have zilch, but am always seeking the answer to something on the web. My husband thinks I have lost my mind since he asked if I would plant some flowers, to add color to our beds that were all green shrubs. I went to one garden center and then quickly ripped everything out and started over. I haven't stopped since. Ha.

Okay, sorry...I'm a jabber. Back to the reason for my post. I fell in love with Heucheras. So far I have purchased Plum Pudding, Harvest Silver, Georgia Peach, and Shanghai. The Harvest Silver is the only one that has kept it's pretty color (green, dark green veins & dusted with silver). The other 3 all look blah. The leaves are yucky light brown or tan'ish. I am in North Texas (7b). For the past 48 hrs I have done nothing but read online about what I could be doing wrong and am saddened to say that I am not finding answers or even an ounce of encouragement. I'm reading things like, give up, heucheras don't like that climate. I have been accused of being OCD and feel like I have a challenge. I'm determined to make them like me. ;)

My soil was clay like, but not too heavy. Before I started planting I amended it. I added organic compost (from a local organic garden center) and some sand... Tilled it up and went to town planting things.

Plum pudding is planted in an area that gets afternoon sun (i know, I know. Well at least now I know that afternoon sun isn't the best.) The tag said full sun so that's what I did. It IS growing and adding new leaves. They come out beautiful purple, then change in a couple weeks to the yucky brown. Occasionally one will burn at the edges and I just trim it off.

The other 3 are planted in an area that gets mostly shade all day. I would say it gets some dappled or filtered sunlight in the morning, and is shaded from the hot afternoon sun. Those 3 are newer to my garden than the Plums, in the ground 4 to 5 weeks. None have grown a single leaf, but Georgia Peach and Shanghai's leaves have also turned ugly. I don't know what I'm doing wrong exactly, but desperately want to figure it out and correct it.

Just a couple more things...

I've read that you should not bury the crown when planting them and I'm embarrassed to say I'm not exactly sure what that is. It is entirely possible that I did just that. Would that cause the discoloration in the leaves? Secondly, I've read that you shouldn't over water them. Ok, I could be loving them too much. :( I thought with the heat here, that they would want more water. Could I be drowning the poor babies?

Thank you for reading and for any wisdom you may be able to share.

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tepelus z6a SW MI

Most of my heuchera's leaves turn ugly during the summer and when things cool down in the fall their color returns, not as nice as in the spring, their prime time, but better than the ugly summer blahs. Some of mine have seemed to retain their color for the most part, Berry Smoothie is holding well, Sugar Plum is more silver than purple now, but still looks good. Midnight Bayou looks better now than earlier, but only because it's finally filling out. Cherry Cola looks good, and Mint Julep. Southern Comfort and Caramel are greening, Georgia Peach looks blah, Sweet Tea doesn't know what color it wants to be. Some plants are hit and miss. Just have to try them out and see how they do. BTW, most of mine get no more than a few hours of sun, the rest of the day they're in shade.

Karen

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 6:36AM
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GardenObsessedNewbie(7b)

Thank you @tepelus, that makes me feel better. Maybe it is just a summer thing because of the heat. After all, my Plum Pudding IS growing and seems to be thriving, color excluded. I'd feel even better if the other 3 would also start growing. They are still fairly newly planted, so patience it is. Perhaps they need a little more time to establish. I'm also going to look into the varieties that you mentioned. I do try to chose the ones that say they hold up in heat and humidity, since in Texas, that's a season. :)
Thanks again.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 10:14AM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

I have a lot, but they need good soil. You should compost or add things like peat moss often. If you want to email me to talk more. I have photos online on my flickr account
Sent via iPad
I dont know if they can do well in Texas
What about branching out to other plants?
They like a lot of water, yes they can be water saving, but for best results do not skimp on water.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 1:27PM
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CindyCRNA(6a)

I water almost daily, maybe every other day on the mature ones but always at least every other day and mine never get crispy, even when it got to 112 degrees last year.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 10:07AM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

Wow, I had no idea they could take the heat, since in San Francisco we don't get heat. They only time I had them die was when I did not know what I doing and the soil was not rich enough and I let them too dry, but with enough compost and water I think they can live. But, I did lose amber waves twice and plum pudding died.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 10:06PM
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roseblush1(8a/Sunset 7)

GON... I think it's fair to say I am very new to gardening in general too, as the only thing I know how to grow well are roses and weeds. Everything else survives just cuz, but I am learning.

I, too am new to growing heucheras. I bought my first three plants last week ...Amethyst Mist, Silver Srolls and an unnamed ruffled burgundy one from Lowe's. All three are horribly root bound, but I haven't had time to re-pot them. I've been watering them from the bottom up. Yesterday, our temps finally moved from the mid-80s to low 90s and will probably continue to go up for the rest of the summer. Our summer temps range from the mid-90s to low triple digits .. sometimes reaching 112 degrees for a few days, but there is a 40 to 50 degree swing between day temps and night temps because I live in the mountains.

Alina 1 answered my first post to this Forum and said that the purple ones could take more sun than other cultivars. I took her at her word and placed the pots where they got full sun until about 4pm. Only Amethyst Mist showed a brown spot on one leaf. (I've moved it to a shadier spot.) There has been no sunburn or wilting on any of the plants.

I, too, fell in love with them because some of the cultivars are said to be deer resistant. If true, I'll be able to plant something in front of my house in deer territory that is interesting. I plan to put them in containers and place them out there to see if my deer do more than take a nibble at the plant.

I've done a lot of research this last week and, of course, there is conflicting information. I'll probably have lots of questions for those of you who are experienced at growing these plants.

Tropical Thought ... I think the need for good soil, sufficient water and without compost may be true for the newer introductions. Unknowingly, I have been neglecting a heuchera planted on the far side of my house since I purchased it in 2004. I thought it was a weed. Since all of my time was being used creating a rose garden in glacier slurry, I haven't bothered with that side yard. I've used it as a path from the front of the house to the back.

It's probably a species heuchra. It's planted in poor soil, it's never been mulched and has never been watered by me. We do get, on average, 40" of rain in the winter months and no rain in the summer months. It did get full shade. The climate here is quite arid during the summer. This "weed" has come back every year and bloomed with no care. Yes, I am going to move it and take care of it from now on, but that's one tough plant !

My guess is with heucheras, like roses, the TLC required will always depend on the cultivar and where you are growing it as long as some basic principles are followed. For example, most of my research said that it is better to let them be somewhat dry than too wet for any length of time.

It's going to be fun learning about my new addiction.

Smiles,
Lyn

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 4:08PM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

I wrote a huge long reply and it did not take. Post a photo of the primitive heuchera.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 10:48PM
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roseblush1(8a/Sunset 7)

Tropical Thought...

I'd love to provide a photo, but my camera died this spring when I was taking photos of my first flush of roses. I probably will not get a new one until Christmas.

I live in Trinity County, California and the house I live in was built in 1960. I am the second owner.

I did have someone who grows several heucheras confirm that the plant was indeed a heuchera and not some other kind of weed.

I did a search to find out if any heucheras were native to Trinity County. I'll put a link below of the only site that seemed to have the right information. I can confirm that the plant is NOT 'Heuchera pilosissima Fischer & C. Meyer' or 'Heuchera rubescens Torrey' because the blooms of those plants are not even close to the plant I wrote about. I don't think it is 'Heuchera merriamii Eastw.' because the bloom period is in spring, not summer. That leaves 'Heuchera micrantha Lindley'. The leaf color looks right and the flower spikes, if that's what you call them, looks right. However, my plant has been neglected by me for years and the previous owner was in her 90s when I bought the house and had not tended the garden for a long time.

The plant is already looking better now that it has gotten some water this week.

Smiles,
Lyn

In case the link doesn't take, I am posting it here:

http://www.calflora.org/cgi-bin/specieslist.cgi?tmpfile=cf955349&num-matches=2461&max=50&prevwhere=&button_flag=&prevselect=&table=nspecies&dump=&backlink=&row-to-start=1050&page=next+50

Here is a link that might be useful: Calflora.org - heuchera

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 12:40AM
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GardenObsessedNewbie(7b)

Update on my original post...

When I first started this thread, the only plant that was growing and adding leaves was my Harvest Silver...it has officially succumbed to my heat. Lol. The *only* one that I wasn't worried about is deader than a door nail. However, my Georgia Peach and Shanghai are growing now. Growing well in fact. Their color is still blah, but I'm ok knowing that they seem to be thriving in my climate, and am crossing my fingers that they well indeed be pretty again in the Fall.

I'm worried about my Plum Puddings. They really don't like their mostly full sun spot. They still put out new leaves constantly, but lots are burning at the same time. I need to move them but worry about shocking them if I do it now. Any thoughts?

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 1:20AM
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thisismelissa(z4a-S Twin Cities MN)

Welcome to gardening! I've not fully read the other postings, but I'm kinda wondering if it's the TX heat in general.

My sis lives in Dallas and asked me to design her garden beds. I told her I'd love to, but I recognize NONE of the plants I saw. My MN garden and the TX gardens I saw had very little in common in the way of plantings.

Tags are a difficult proposition. Here in Minnesota, I'm at 45 degrees longitude. In TX, your angle to the sun is much more severe. So, things I can grow in my garden in full sun would turn to rice crispies in your garden. For instance, how many hostas have you seen in TX? Not many. Well, why not? They're zone 7 hardy, right? In the pacific northwest zone 7, they grow like gangbusters. In TX, they hardly grow at all. Well, hardiness speaks to COLD, it does not speak to heat. And most tags don't speak to heat either. That's what HEAT ZONE MAP is for. Here is a link to one http://www.ahs.org/pdfs/05_heat_map.pdf.

You're probably heat zone 9. That's the EXTREME limit for heuchera's heat zone. So it's highly unlikely they'd handle anything more than dappled shade in your area.

They ABSOLUTELY require well drained soil. They simply will not tolerate clay. So, don't even bother planting in your native soil.

If it my my heuchera, I'd get it out of the sun in TX. Shade, shade shade. Well drained soil. And keep it cool! Do not put it up against your brick house. Brick retains heat and will radiate it onto your plantings.

I can't be entirely certain of this, but I'm going to guess that you may have limited success with heuchera in your heat. But I do wish you the very best of luck in your garden adventures!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 10:16AM
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roseblush1(8a/Sunset 7)

Mellisa.....

What a great post ! I am gardening in the mountains of northern California and some sites say I am in zone 7b, others 8a .. and I know I am in heat zone 8.

I fell for a tag that said "deer resistant" and purchased my first heuchera just a little while ago. Since then, I started researching them ... and I absolutely know you don't need to research everything as compulsively as I do to have a beautiful garden and hope I don't offend anyone when I share what I am learning ... but, I have found that some species heucheras will grow in clay soils and even in rocky soils with little nutrients in them.

That said, I think it depends on which species of heuchera is included in the hybrid as to what kind of soils they can handle.

Also, I've found that it's not only cold or heat that affects the plants, but also humidity. I don't know if the breeders are including the species that can handle these variables in the breeding of their plants, but it's been fun trying to find out.

We have four species heucheras that grow in my part of California and since there are never any summer rains, I think they probably go dormant in the summer. It makes sense that breeders would not introduce plants like this to commerce, so I doubt if they have been used in breeding very much.

Smiles,
Lyn

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 5:32PM
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GardenObsessedNewbie(7b)

Melissa...

Yes, great info! Thank you very much. I need to just move my plums. I think maybe I'm avoiding it. Lol. They aren't my favorite heuchs and I'm limited on space right now (that is until I talk my husband out of some lawn). The plums were my first, and honestly they just caught my eye at the nursery in the sea of green. I snatched them up and when I got home and started researching them, that's when I discovered the beautiful world of heucheras. Now I look at them and think they are rather dull compared to some other purples I've seen.

Interestly enough, I am actually growing 3 kinds of hostas in my garden. I planted them just late spring and they are all doing beautifully for me in the heat. They are obviously well shaded, but 4 of my 5 even bloomed for me or are about to. I was pretty stoked about it. :) Can't wait to see them come back in the spring even bigger.

BTW...I'm Melissa also. ;)

    Bookmark   July 14, 2012 at 2:31PM
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