Acidic Soil for Heuchera

davesselsAugust 20, 2013

I have just planted 5 Heuchera and have six more coming in Sept. I thought I had done the research, but just noticed on "Hosta Direct" they recommend soil PH to be 5.8-6.2, Mildly Acidic. My soil is right at 7. I have amended clay soil, with lots of compost, do you think I need to add an acidifier to my soil before I plant the rest?

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I have extremely acidic soil in one area of my garden and alkaline soil in another area. I have heucheras planted in both places and I haven't noticed any difference in the health or growth rates of the plants. I would think a nice, even ph of 7 would be just fine. In fact, anything between a 6-7 should be great.

The main thing that does seem to make a huge difference is drainage. Make sure it's good, as heuchera hate to be soggy.

This post was edited by flower-frenzy on Tue, Aug 20, 13 at 18:23

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 6:22PM
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Thank you flower-frenzy. I have worked very hard on my soil, and when planting my clematis (which are doing great) I always throw some very fine gravel and a handful of gypsum in the hole covered with a few inches of amended soil to sit the plant in, It has worked very well for me. I also mix pecan shells in the clay soil and that makes a huge difference. I have definitely caught the Heuchera addiction. They are wonderful, and a never ending variety. I may take me season or two to figure which ones do best in sun and part shade. I always enjoy reading your posts. What area of the country are you located?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 10:50PM
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I'm in the PNW, so my climate is probably much wetter than yours in TX.

A rule of thumb on heuchera is; the darker the leaf, the more sun the plant can take. (Although in your climate, most heuchera are going to appreciate afternoon shade.) The dark purple/blackish purple/dark brown heuchs can take the most sun and the lime green ones tend to be wimpy when it comes to direct sun. The orangey ones fall somewhere in between the two, depending on the cultivar.

In your southern climate, I'd look into buying any heuchera that is a villosa hybrid. The villosa strain is much more tolerant of heat and humidity than the other type. Lucky for you, there are many beauties to choose from. Some if them include:

Pinot Gris
Pinot Noir
Georgia Peach
Georgia Plum
Southern Comfort
Frosted Violet
Silver Scrolls
Bronze Wave

The one pictured here is one of my favorites. It's called 'Citronelle'. With the lime green leaves, I grow it in mostly shade. It really brightens up a dark corner. The heuchera showing in the foreground is another villosa hybrid called 'Pinot Gris'.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 12:00AM
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Here's a better shot of 'Pinot Gris'. This one changes colors throughout the season. It's pinker in cooler weather and greener during the hot summer months.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 12:03AM
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Here's 'Caramel', probably my favorite villosa hybrid.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 12:05AM
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Flower Frenzy, I love the 'Citronelle' and the 'Pinot Gris', I have the Caramel ordered from Garden Crossings, purchased when they were on sale. They will ship the fist week of Sept. I hope it cools down a bit by then, it was 97 today.
I did read about the Villosa being better for my climate, so I have tried to order those. I bought 5 from the nursery in Amarillo (45 miles from me) for 10.00 each and planted them yesterday. They just look happy to be in the ground. Then I got three more today. You know how half price plants look this time of year, also the dark ones have alkaline white water stains from being sprayed. Anything else I would clean with vinager, but.... not plants.
I planted these on the North facing South fence, with my Clematis, so they get lots of morning and noon sun.
I have:
Blessingham Hybrid looks a bit like green and Pink, 4.00
Vellosa Magnum
Silver Scrolls
Plum Royale
Sweet Tea Heucherella
Midnight Rose 2 of them

I had ordered:
Berrie Smoothie
Delta Dawn
Georgia Peach
Midnight rose
Southern Comfort
Also order three of the minies,
Blondie, Peppermint and Sweet Tart from a different company.
I left space between all of the dark colors, to plant the Peach and Pink colored ones, but I may rethink things a bit when they arrive.
I have 2 Palce Purple and the Sweet Tea planted in a NW facing corner that gets late after sun, but my meter still says part shade, I think the Green ones would lighten it up a bit. I would love to order Circus, and some other green and lighter ones, but I think this will last me until next spring and I see how they do.
I am sure our full sun @ 100+ is much stronger than yours. Monrovia also gives a heat index on most things, ours is an 8, so that helps a bit.
Definitley want,
Circus and Taramisu.
My Silver Scrolls looks so good considering how it looked at the nursery, it might be my fav right, until I get the others.
Thanks again, Deb

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 8:36PM
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Wow...what a great list! I'm familiar with most of those and grow quite a few of them myself. You won't be sorry that you ordered 'Berry Smoothie'. Here's a picture of mine. It's small yet, but the color is outstanding!

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 8:53PM
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Another one on your ordered list that I really enjoy is 'Blondie'. I think the flowers are so unique. They're kind of fat and bushy. The yellow color also makes it interesting.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 8:57PM
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I also really like 'Southern Comfort', but I don't have a picture of it right now. A word to the wise, keep it out of the sun. In shade it's a beautiful orangey color, but the sun turns it an ugly mustard brown and it gets crispy leaves as well. The nursery I bought it from had it in all day sun and it's super ugly (which is why I didn't take a pic). I've had it in complete shade for about 3 weeks now and the new growth that's starting to show is pretty spectacular. The leaves are also supposed to get huge...up to 8" across.

This picture is of 'Georgia Peach', which is also on your ordered list. I'm loving the colors and the veins on this one.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 9:04PM
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As I said, I did research before I ordered, and alot of that was here on the Garden Web, reading and seeing the pictures all of you have posted, so I really do appreciate all of the postings from everyone. In fact, I think I got hooked on Heuchera from the clematis forum, seems alot of people "collect" both. The funny thing is, I absolutely cannot grow a Hosta! I do have a beautiful Hydrengea though! Crazy! I have saved Center Stage for the Berrie Smoothie... I can't wait to get them, they will be small starter size, but I will post pictures when I get them planted. The way it here in the Texas Panhandle, when I find a Heuchera at any Nursery, I grab it up, as the price of ordering a very small plant is more than I have found them here at the end of season, and at the nursery they are much larger, and I get instant gratification.. LOl My 'Sweet Tea" at half price didn't look too great, and doesn't yet, but I know it will perk up in a few weeks. I also checked the Terra Nova sight and then searched the online nurseries for the ones I wanted.
Thank you for the pictures.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2013 at 10:39PM
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You're welcome for the pics. :)

Sounds like I'll have to check out the clematis forum to find some more heuchera lovers. It seems pretty quiet over here most of the time.

I know what you mean about finding plants locally and mail order plants. The ones at nurseries or big box stores are usually gallon-size verses the typical 3" mail order pots. I like getting the instant gratification as well, not to mention its actually cheaper if you can find them locally. It is nice to have mail order for those ones you just "have to have", though.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 2:11AM
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(Here's 'Caramel', probably my favorite villosa hybrid.) This caught my eye when I was browsing the comments. I bought mine and I thought it was beautiful! I potted it with normal potting soil, but it has not done well at all. It was getting morning sun on my porch step, but the leaves began looking burned on the outer edges, so I moved it back to under my porch on a table. It has just shriveled up, more or less. I tried a hydrogen peroxide/water spray, hoping to revive it. I finally removed all the outer distasteful looking leaves when I saw some new ones coming out at the base, but still does not look good. I even tried a soap/olive oil spray in case it had an insect problem. What is the secret to taking care of this plant? What can I do for it? Or, what can I do for the next one I buy? (I am in the North Central Texas Area)

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 8:48PM
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That sounds strange, since 'Caramel' is normally a very vigorous plant. If you see new growth coming out of it, that sounds promising. It may just need a bit of time to adjust. Do you remember what conditions that the nursery you bought it from had it in? If it was in complete shade there, that might explain why the first set of leaves crisped up when you put it in the sun. It should take the sun rather well, so I'm guessing that the second flush of leaves will be much more sun tolerant than the first.

Sometimes I have this same trouble with hostas that I mail order from other states. The first set of leaves usually dry up and/ or look ugly, while the second set of leaves is much tougher.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 11:28PM
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GCarver, my Caramel has been planted in the ground for less than 2 weeks and it looks wonderful, one of my favorites, and it just never had a wilt even in our hot Texas weather the last few weeks, but a few that I planted in a different bed have had a hard time, they get some afternoon sun, but I know from the ones I planted in the heat of July, that are fine now, that it just takes awhile for them to adjust to the heat and sun. I have never potted one, so sorry, I have no advice for you, maybe the less you do the better, just keep it moist and shaded until it has a few weeks to get adjusted. I planted a Midnight rose in the same bed as the other 10 I have and it is just laying on the ground, I keep looking to see if I planted it to deep or not deep enough. Who knows? The Heuchera (6) I received from Garden Crossings were just amazingly packed, beautiful healthy plants and much larger than expected, so it is odd that one plant would just lay down like that.. I would not give up on yours yet, my Caramel seems to be the hardiest of the new ones. Good luck.
Flower Frenzy, I will post pictures of my Heuchera in a few weeks, hard to say right now which is my favorite.. I have not received the mini's I have ordered, I hope they are as nice as the others I have ordered online. I can see already I will have to move some next spring. I have one bed that has the perfect sun, soil ect, but not enough room there for more than a dozen, and you know I will want more.....

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 12:17AM
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DebV- I'd love to see any pics you have. Looking forward to it! I have some minis myself, and some I find more "mini" than others. 'Gingersnap' and 'Blondie' are really almost full size, while 'Gotham', 'Sweet Tart' and 'Frost' are small like they're supposed to be. I have no idea why this is. Must be in the genetic makeup, I guess.

Boy, it must be tough gardening in Texas. I visited there last summer and felt like the heat was slapping me in the face every time I walked out the door. I know I've got it much easier here in the PNW. You guys must have some serious gardening skills!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 11:38AM
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Flower Frenzy, I'm not sure about the gardening skills, I started out going for a butterfly garden with native plants, then I fell in love with clematis, then Heuchera, so I try to keep them in my cooler morning sun garden, but... now they are everywhere. I am curious to see how my colors compare to yours. I think having milder weather you will get better colors than we do. The one advantage I have in my zone is that I can grow Crape Myrtle and Lilacs at the same time.
The worst weather here is in the summer when it is 100+ and the wind is blowing 20 MPH. Like you said, like walking into a furnace. We have had alot of rain this month so that has really helped. It is 63 degrees at noon today... Heavenly!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 12:46PM
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I bought my "caramel" at a Wal-Mart Nursery and they were in full sun. Yesterday, I noticed the new leaves looked like they wanted to curl slightly. So, thinking I had nothing to loose, I took the plant out of the soil, washed off the roots completely, sprayed top and bottom of the leaves with the soap/olive oil mixture and carefully placed it back into the potting soil, spreading out the roots and covering them gently. I poured the hydrogen Peroxide/water over the root area, hoping to stimulate root growth, and now I will watch it carefully. It is now on a screened in back porch and will get some afternoon sun. I am wondering about a manure tea or what do you recommend as a fertilizer?

    Bookmark   September 20, 2013 at 7:30PM
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