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Heucheras in the South

Posted by browneyedsusan z8a AL (susanmruppert@gmail.com) on
Thu, Sep 26, 13 at 21:30

Does anyone have advice for growing Heucheras in the South? I live in central Alabama and have tried to grow them for many years. Most kinds, including villosa hybrids, remain small, even when grown in the shade. However, they seem to thrive in-in full sun-in my sister's Indiana garden.

Susan


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Heucheras in the South

I don't have any relevant info for you, as I live in the PNW. However, I found this GW discussion thread from 2010 that may be of some help to you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Heuchera for the South


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RE: Heucheras in the South

Flower-frenzy, That was helpful. II am going to pot my Heucheras before they disappear again. I have Mocha, Caramel and Sashay and an unnamed Tiarella.

'd like to hear from people in the South who have been successful with Heuchera, Heucherellas or Tiarellas-I'd like the names of varieties that do well in the heat.

susan


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RE: Heucheras in the South

  • Posted by dbarron Z6/7 (Oklahoma) (My Page) on
    Wed, Nov 27, 13 at 15:01

Looks like noone grows them in the south (from the posting level). Either it's too quiet here (chirping crickets) or we should be warned.
I've been watching this thread too...as the vilosa hybrids are really pretty...as are some of the tiarellas and hybrids.


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RE: Heucheras in the South

I know there are some southern gardeners here, because I've seen their posts. This forum has been awfully quiet lately, though. Maybe they've all disappeared?


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RE: Heucheras in the South

  • Posted by vasue 7A Charlottesville (My Page) on
    Tue, Dec 3, 13 at 13:40

Not as far South as you, Susan, but must put in a good word for Southern Comfort. New gallon size early last Spring caught my eye for the peachy apricot light coral tones of its foliage. Picked up two that spent the months between on the sunny hot concrete walk in front of the bed they were slated for when its redo was complete. That walk's in a SE exposure so they had full sun from an hour past dawn till 5 in the afternoon when the house blocked the early evening rays. Hose watered them daily in their pale plastic pots & they looked good right through the heat & humidity, pumping out new leaves through fairly brutal conditions without crisping - quite impressive. Since Halloween, they've been sitting atop the soil just off the walk still in their pots. With the frost, they've darkened to a medium cinnamon shade that's very attractive. Plan to leave them potted, perhaps through Winter, add pea gravel to their planting spots & then plant them high in a bit of a mound in that loamy soil. Can't say how they'll do there, but they've proven they can take intense sun & heavy humidity, so I'm highly hopeful.

When heucheras first came to the local nurseries in the late 90's, tried a few of the purple-green ruffly leaved ones (Palace Purple?) available then. Found they struggled with the Winter wet & freeze-thaw heaving. Took pity the following Spring, potted them up & found they breezed through the heat and the winters that way. They grow so low to the ground anyway that their leaves hide their pots. One was planted in ground on a slight slope for drainage & has done well for some years in full sun with trees providing shade past 4 pm in Summer. Another is still in its bowl-shaped pot nestled on the soil & has done as well as the one planted out, though it receives a few less hours of Summer sun. Fellow local gardeners came to the same conclusions.

Also fell for gallons of heucherella Sweet Tea at an early Summer nursery sale. Knowing that by the time the major overhaul of the same garden bed was done little selection would still be available locally, collected a number of plants to audition for growing there. Sweet Tea didn't appreciate the hot concrete walk as much as Southern Comfort did. Didn't wilt or crisp but didn't throw new leaves. When the temps hit mid-90's with 90% humidity, ST was moved down the walk where high shade occurred after 1 pm & was much happier. So consider ST morning sun/afternoon dappled shade appropriate here & likely further South into your zone.

Stopped by Lowe's in mid-October for pansies & found more gallons of Sweet Tea on the clearance rack at $5 a pop. They were still lush & hadn't yet perished from lack of care, so 5 came home with me. Two are wintering in the porch boxes & have already spread out & settled in. The rest are still in pots sitting in the garden, adding nice touches of color. Hopefully, they'll make a nice broad edge along a sloped curve below a tree.

Stopped by a favorite garden shop last month for a perennial gift plant for a friend. Not much left that fit the bill, but 2 Caramels that still looked fresh & fluffy came away with me. (One for you, one for me - lol - any excuse to trial a plant that still looks good this time of year.) So after years of noticing the many new introductions without being drawn to them, I've added 2 Southern Comfort, 7 Sweet Tea & the single Caramel.

My favorites are the Southern Comforts for the colors of their leaves & their willingness to take intense sun & humidity. An Easy Does It floribunda rose sits front & center of that walkway bed & I loved how the shades of SC harmonized, so they'll be planted either side to shade her feet. Don't know where Caramel will land yet - plenty of time this Winter to ponder that one.

Believe the key to success with all these includes starting with no smaller than gallon plants, sun/heat/humidity considerations & equally important - good drainage in the Winter wet. Potting them can solve the later challenge.

Here's a couple picks of Southern Comfort that echo the looks that snagged my heart & please me greatly.

Sue

Here is a link that might be useful: Southern Comfort


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RE: Heucheras in the South

Those Southern Comforts look amazing...my other choice was Sweet Tea (lol...seems we like the same).
I will probably try to get me a good POT (learning from you) this spring and keep it potted (strange as that sounds). Do you recommend overpotting early in the year to give it time to fill/spread before winter (and drainage issues), or do you keep in appropriately sized pots ? Ie how fast will they grow and fill out ?


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RE: Heucheras in the South

  • Posted by vasue 7A Charlottesville (My Page) on
    Sun, Dec 8, 13 at 16:06

How fast will they grow? Starting with a good healthy plant in decent potting medium (not that greenhouse mix that's so light it's useless for home growing), pretty fast for the Sweet Teas. The porch boxes are a foot high by a foot deep & 3 feet long. Planted a gallon smack in the center of each by its lonesome the last week of October. Six weeks later they've expanded from 1'x1' to 2'x2' & trail nicely over the front & back, leaviing only 6" of soil exposed either side of that 3' box. I'm definitely impressed! They've filled in as well as lengthened, with lots of new redder leaves from the center & look very full & happy. Glad now I didn't find the pansies this Fall to fill the boxes as I ususally do (viola Imperial Antique Shades), or they would have been swamped. Although bummed over not snagging those pansies, as they are so beautiful blooming through the snow till early Summer, it's worked out well with just the Sweet Teas centering each. Nice leaf color for Autumn & holiday season, too. Not bad for the what to do with an empty porch box question & here you go what about this answer. Unexpected serendipity!

Keep in mind that we had an extended Indian Summer blinking on & off, not continual but some mild stretches in between the cool. The Sweet Teas don't receive much rain due to the porch roof overhang, so kept them watered as needed on the moist but not soaked principle, with warm water when the soil was still frosty but open. The light tan stucco house wall & two sets of French doors windowpaned on their top halves bounce the seasonal Eastern light so the back of the Sweet Teas not facing the garden still filled out as well as the front. The soil in those boxes is neither heavy nor light & is enriched with homemade compost dug in every year when it's replanted, so mimics the fertile, moist, well-drained woodland soil conditions recommended for this clan.

With regard to the old Palace Purple-type that's been in its bowl-shaped planter - that bowl is a foot round by 8" deep & tapers to maybe 8 or 9 inches at the base. Originally a mixed "color bowl" bought in Autumn with a low variegated sage & an unremembered third component plant, removed & planted all but the heuchera the following Spring. Given the room to grow alone in the bowl, filled it by Fall & has continued on through the years apparently satisfied if not actually content. The one planted in the garden in those years expanded to the size of the one in the bowl & has stayed that way, too, though it might have grown larger if not for its neighbors in that mixed perennial planting.

Since the Southern Comforts are still in their original gallon pots, yet unknown how quickly they're likely to grow. If I were to leave them potted, they'd go into 2 gallons or better yet the bowl pots of the same volume. Their history of putting out new growth suggests they are vigorous & should have upgraded them to larger pots by now. Plan to do so during one of the mild spells we usually get here in Winter. Often disregard recommendatons of repotting into the next size up container. Depends on the vigor of the plant & find those eager to grow usually do fine going immediately to double or triple size containers. If I were acquiring a pretty pot for these, would find one for the mature anticipated size to use as a slip-pot rather than buying next larger sizes repeatedly, propping the plant in its growing pot atop something to raise its height in the meantime. Potting along any perennial, tend to use the same type of mix as the porch boxes, adding in soil straight from the garden for those that will be planted out later. Combine that mixture from separate ingredients, starting with organic topsoil or even potting mix with very little peat & adding vermiculite, perlite, compost & sometimes sharp sand or gypsum till the consistency is right for the plant. Usually fairly rich but free-draining, able to hold moisture without sogging or drying quickly, grainy enough to foil compression & retain air channels. Like to cover the soil with sheet moss, leaving base of the plant free, to minimize splashing the soil under the leaves or out of the pot or compacting the soil in rain or watering. Also provides some insulation from heat & cold while letting the soil breathe. Just hairpin it in place along the edges of the pot.

Pots themselves better light than dark, as the dark absorbs too much heat & can cook the roots unless the material of the pot is very thick or insulated. Often slipped the planter pot into a thicker pot such as clay to moderate the temp & provide stability. Have used bubble wrap around the sides but not bottoms of pots before slipping them into larger pots for insulation, too. Used to place clay shards to cover the drainage holes, but ants can find their way past those into the pot itself. Now cut landscape fabric to fit the bottom to prevent that & it works well.

Based on Sweet Tea's current performance, I'm betting the mature size will be at least 3' wide & the foliage at minimum 2' tall in suitable soi & conditons. From watching the Southern Comforts & googling around, guessing they'll reach at least 2' across. Tend to disregard commercial growers' size estimates, depend on other gardeners for more accurate info when planning & to plant spaced with mature form in mind rather than crowd, but that's me.

Stuck inside while an ice & snow storm plies this dreary day, keeping an eye on the garden through the windows, must say the heuchs look very pretty with their shiny coating, a very holiday look. "Let It Snow" playing on the radio & daydreaming of gardens in leaf & bloom, these plants give good cheer. Much appreciate evergreens that aren't just green & add harmonies during the warm months, too. Fingers crossed, these are sure looking like winners so far!

This post was edited by vasue on Sun, Dec 8, 13 at 21:27


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RE: Heucheras in the South

Thanks for all the input. I will try "Southern Comfort" and "Sweet Tea" next year.
Susan


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RE: Heucheras in the South

  • Posted by dbarron Z6/7 (Oklahoma) (My Page) on
    Wed, Dec 18, 13 at 7:13

I plan on a big pot of Sweet Tea (err should that be a big jug?) as soon as they become available. I would usually mail order, but think it's likely I'll see some locally. I haven't paid much attention to the heucheras but I have noticed they are around.


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RE: Heucheras in the South

I am in the South and the advice is think "annual". They will do ok until august but have gotten smaller for me or disappeared. Rain everyday is not their friend nor the humidity. Both Southern Comfort and Sweet tea have done so so for me. They are not readily sold here and I will not be ordering any more. I will put my money into more hostas, yea, or a less expensive annual. Paula


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