Heuchera, known as coral bells, is a viable perennial alternative to Coleus. Heuchera is very similar to Coleus in many ways, but with one important difference; Heuchera is perennial and returns year after year. This article will look at Heuchera and how it compares to Coleus.
Heuchera grows up to a foot in height and up to two feet wide, and sends up flower spikes in summer. Bloom duration varies as does color and showiness of the flowers. Heuchera likes part shade, rich soil, and good drainage especially during winter. It goes dormant in colder regions but retains color in warmer regions, and is hardy in most temperate zones.
Heuchera compares to Coleus in most leaf colors, coming in solid colors and mixtures of different colors. Colors include green, lime green, orange, red, pink, and purple to purple-black. Varieties exhibit many shades within those colors, as well as silver veining on leaves of some cultivars. Coleus has a similar color range in its varieties. Heuchera differs from Coleus in its leaf texture and in the patterns of colors. Both plants are mostly grown for their showy leaves.
Heuchera forms a low mound whereas Coleus are more upright in habit. Heuchera sends up bloom stalks that vary in height, color and showiness. Height range is a foot to three feet. Flowers bloom white to red, and vary in size. Some cultivars are bred for showy flowers while others are grown for their leaf. Some Heuchera bloom for a few weeks while others bloom all summer long. Coleus starts blooming in summer and doesn’t stop until frost. The blooms of Heuchera do not detract from their foliage. Coleus stops making good foliage when it blooms unless it is pinched hard.
Heuchera likes partial sun, and will not do well in full sun or full shade. Generally, the varieties with more purple tolerate more sun while orange and green leaved varieties prefer more shade. Afternoon shade is ideal for Heuchera. Coleus prefer similar conditions for sunlight, with some varieties liking full shade and others tolerating almost full sun. Both plants like rich soil that is well drained.
So that is how Heuchera compares to Coleus; a similar but distinctly different plant that prefers similar conditions. Heuchera can be grown in place of Coleus by gardeners looking to save money on annuals, or the two varieties can be grown together and compliment each other through the different shapes and textures.