How to grow Heuchera

multicoloured heuchera plant - Heuchera 'Patchwork' Mix available from Thompson & Morgan

Cultivate heuchera to spice up the darker corners of your garden
Featured Image: Heuchera ‘Patchwork’ Mix from Thompson & Morgan

If you’re looking for a wonderful shade plant to add colour and interest to the darker corners of your garden, look no further than heuchera. This hardy native of North America can withstand the cold, offers a wide range of colourful foliage all year round, and wispy flowers on long stems in the spring. Also known as coral bells or alumroot, this evergreen perennial is a must, and as an autumn bedding plant, is hard to beat. Here’s how to grow and care for it.

About heuchera

collection of brightly coloured heuchera plants

Heuchera comes in a variety of colours – ideal for any planting colour scheme.
Image: Buquet Christophe

Heuchera grows in a wide variety of habitats in its native North America, from the salty shores of California to arid Arizona and New Mexico. It likes shade and semi-shade best, but some varieties will grow in full sun. It’s not particularly fussy about soil type either, although it doesn’t like to get too wet or too dry..

Growing from a crown at ground level, the foliage is this plant’s main attraction. Think purples, red, and burnt umbers at one end of the spectrum, and limes, yellows, and greens at the other, with every kind of variegation you could possibly wish for.

Firm favourites

green and grey variety of heuchera - Heuchera 'Stormy Seas' available from Thompson & Morgan

Try the moodier palette of Heuchera ‘Stormy Seas’ for a subtle flash of colour.
Featured Image: Thompson & Morgan

Heuchera ‘Berry Smoothie’ is a real treat. With its pink leaves and claret veins, it offers a vibrant splash of colour which only deepens as the foliage darkens through late summer and into autumn and winter. Come the spring, you’ll find this plant’s creamy white flowers a delight and a true contrast against the bright leaves.

Fancy something to suit with a verdant palette? Take a look at this Heuchera/ Tiarella hybrid, ‘Solar Power’. With its evergreen yellow lime foliage mottled with dark red markings, it’s a great way to liven up a shady border.

For more subtle coverage of difficult spots, give Heuchera ‘Stormy Seas’ a try. This hardy perennial features maroon and green leaves with silver variegation and creamy white flowers which bloom on tall spikes during the summer.

Where to plant heuchera

mixed perennial border with hostas, heuchera and day lily

Heuchera normally prefer shade, but some varieties can cope with higher levels of sunlight.
Image: Maria Evseyeva

Heuchera is a shade-loving plant, but with so many varieties to choose from, there is considerable variation in terms of how much sunlight different specimens can cope with. As a rule of thumb, the colour of the leaves gives you a good clue as to where to site your plant; darker leaves are better at withstanding the sun’s rays.

A great plant for those who garden in coastal areas where salt-laden winds are an issue, the only thing heuchera really doesn’t like is heavy, wet ground which causes the crown to rot, or very sandy soils which can quickly dry out. Improve your soil by adding plenty of organic matter, choose well-drained soil, and water regularly but sparingly.

When to plant heuchera

Closeup of man in green welly boots digging hole in the ground ready for planting

Dig a hole that’s twice the size of the root ball for planting.
Image: Shutterstock

You can plant heuchera any time the soil’s not waterlogged or frozen, but for best results, put yours in the ground during the spring or early autumn to allow it to establish without risk of frost damage. Dig a hole about twice the size of the root ball and add a handful of organic matter or blood, fish, and bone to give your plant a good start.

Remove your heuchera from its pot and gently massage the roots to separate them before planting and covering until the soil reaches the same level as it did in the pot. Avoid covering the crown itself or there’s a chance it will rot.

How to prune heuchera

closeup shot of leggy heuchera getting pruned by gardening secateurs

Prune your heuchera to keep it from getting leggy
Image: GardenTags

After a couple of years your heuchera may start to become rather clumped and leggy. When you part the leaves, you’ll discover woody stems that lead back to the crown of the plant. To prune, cut the stems back to a just above buds of fresh growth at the top of the crown.

To propagate your cuttings, snip away any dead wood until you come to the sappy part of the stem before planting in potting compost; general purpose compost with added grit and a slow release fertiliser will also work. Roots will develop in three to four weeks.

Heuchera rust

image of dark red heuchera plants in a border

Ensure you don’t introduce infected Heuchera plants into your garden.
Image: AliScha

Although it’s a tough plant, in recent years, the fungal disease, Puccinia heuchera, otherwise known as heuchera rust has become widespread in the UK. It’s a particular problem during wet summers and appears mainly as sunken spots on the top of leaves with orange rust coloured pustules on the underside.

If you’re buying new plants to supplement other, uninfected, heuchera in your garden, it’s a good idea to quarantine the new plants for three to four weeks to be sure they are unaffected. Check your plants regularly for signs of the disease, removing any affected material and destroy rather than compost it.

Because heuchera rust likes damp conditions, pay close attention to soil drainage, plant your heuchera where there’s plenty of air circulation, and water early in the morning so the leaf surfaces have a chance to dry during the day.

You can’t beat heuchera for glorious foliage which provides both vibrant colour and structure to your autumn planting scheme.

For further flower growing advice, check out our collection ‘How to’ gardening guides.

Top 10 best-selling plants of 2018

white hydrangea flowers on green foliage. Hydrangea 'Runaway Bride' available to buy from Thompson & Morgan

This pretty hydrangea won the nation’s hearts and Chelsea’s Plant of the Year 2018
Image: Hydrangea ‘Runaway Bride’ by Thompson & Morgan

Are you looking for some garden inspiration? Or just curious about which plants were gardeners’ favourites last year? Here are our ten best-selling plants of 2018. The majority are flowers – including two of our own prize-winning hybrids – but there are a couple of fruits in there too – can you guess which they are?

 

Hydrangea 'Runaway Bride' by Thompson & Morgan

This captivating hydrangea won Chelsea Flower Show plant of the year 2018

Hydrangea Runaway Bride®

Awarded the prestigious title of Plant of the Year for 2018 at Chelsea Flower Show, our Hydrangea hybrid Runaway Bride® ‘Snow White’ is one of the most floriferous and vigorous hydrangeas you’ve ever seen. It’s the only hydrangea to produce flowers from every leaf joint – producing up to 6 large, beautiful blooms per branch and a spectacular showy display. We’re so proud of this beautiful hydrangea with its pure white lace-cap flowers, flushed with pale pink. It makes an elegant border shrub and is equally stunning in hanging baskets and containers. The Runaway Bride® has stolen many hearts this year, has it stolen yours?

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Sunflower 'Sunbelievable Brown Eyed Girl' by Thompson & Morgan - Available to buy now

‘Sunbelievable Brown Eyed Girl’ took third prize in Chelsea Flower Show’s Plant of the Year 2018

 

Sunflower SunBelievable™ Brown Eyed Girl

Our ‘Sunbelievable™ Brown Eyed Girl’ sunflower won third place in Chelsea’s Plant of the Year 2018 category. This stunning new hybrid sunflower doesn’t waste time setting seed but puts all its energy into flowering. This pretty sunflower is perfect for pots and borders. It produces masses of beautiful, dainty blooms all the way through to November. Our head breeder Charles says: “I’ve crossed the very best with the very best to really boost its flower power.”

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Tree Lily 'Pretty Woman Red' from Thompson & Morgan - available to buy now

‘Pretty Woman Red’ brings huge pink blooms and sweet fragrance to your garden

Tree Lily Pretty Woman

Tree lilies create a striking display in the garden. These impressive plants are giants of the flower world, their stunning blooms towering at up to 8ft (2.4m) tall by their third year. Sturdy and prolific, each tree lily plant produces around 30 trumpet-shaped flowers. But with a relatively narrow spread (45cm or 18”), they fit nicely into even narrow borders. The Pretty Woman Tree Lily comes in red, yellow and white varieties, all of which offer a deliciously sweet fragrance.

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Clematis florida 'Taiga' by Thompson & Morgan - available to buy now

This spiky clematis might be a real show off but it’s very easy to look after

Clematis Taiga

When clematis ’Taiga’ was launched at Chelsea Flower Show in 2017, it caused quite a stir. Its hand-sized blooms with multi-layered purple petals tipped with lime/cream unfurl into stunning spikey rosettes. This Japanese-bred cultivar loves to climb, producing countless blooms through the summer. But don’t let its show-off credentials fool you – clematis ‘Taiga’ may look exotic but it’s completely hardy, easy to prune and undemanding.

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Fuchsia 'Giant Flowered Collection' by Thompson & Morgan - available to buy now

Our giant fuchsia collection makes a stunning display of hanging baskets

Fuchsia Giant-Flowered Collection

With masses of pretty pendant flowers that bloom all summer long, fuchsias are a firm favourite for beds, borders and hanging baskets. Our giant-flowered collection features the ‘Deep Purple’, ‘Swingtime’, ‘Seventh Heaven’, ‘Holly’s Beauty’ and ‘Peachy’ varieties. The huge blooms measure up to 10cm (4”) across and combine purples, reds and pinks in frosted, marbled and striped petals. This collection of fuchsias produces a beautiful show of colour from June to September.

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Begonia Apricot Shades Improved F1 Hybrid from Thompson & Morgan - available to buy now

These easy-to-care-for begonias produce gorgeous apricot blooms all summer long

Begonia Apricot Shades Improved F1 Hybrid

Begonias are easy to care for and produce continuous colour throughout the summer and well into autumn. This Begonia ‘Apricot Shades Improved’ variety produces gorgeous apricot and orange large double blooms that will cascade from your containers and hanging baskets, bringing colour and impact to your garden. And for the culinarily adventurous among you, their brightly coloured petals bring a lemony hint and crisp texture to salads and sandwiches.

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Strawberry 'Just Add Cream' by Thompson & Morgan - available to buy now

This decorative strawberry plant produces pretty pink flowers and sweet fruit

Strawberry Just Add CreamTM

These decorative strawberries look beautiful tumbling from a hanging basket, with masses of pretty pink flowers and delicate fruit. But they don’t just look great, they also taste delicious – combining the sweetness of home-grown strawberries with the distinctive flavour of wild woodland varieties. Just Add Cream™ strawberries have an intense flavour and aroma that will take you right back to childhood and your first memory of tasting this fruit. These generous plants fruit early and will keep on cropping from early May through to the first frosts.

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Begonia Non-Stop Mixed by Thompson & Morgan - available to buy now

These cheerful begonias will flower non-stop throughout the summer

Begonia Non-Stop Mixed

If you’re looking for a riot of colour throughout the summer months and well into autumn, look no further than non-stop mixed begonias. These compact, vigorous double flowers grow to up to 7cm across and come in a glorious range of shades. Deadhead them throughout the growing season and they’ll continue to flower into October. Non-stop begonias are perfect for containers, beds and borders and their blooms are long lasting and weather resistant.

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Busy Lizzie 'Divine Mixed' (New Guinea) by Thompson & Morgan - available to buy now

These pretty, robust plants quickly spread to fill containers and borders

Busy Lizzie Divine Mixed

Busy Lizzie ‘Divine’ is every gardener’s friend. Flowering endlessly from June to November in a beautiful bright colour mix, these flowers are self cleaning and require virtually no deadheading. What’s more, they’re robust and downy-mildew resistant. Spreading willingly, these busy lizzies quickly fill up pots and baskets and cover beds and borders. And giant blossoms, in a range of vivid colours, contrast pleasingly with their attractive bronze-green foliage.

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Tomato 'Sweet Aperitif' by Thompson & Morgan - available to buy now

Tomato ‘Sweet Aperitif’ will produce up to 500 sweet, red fruits!

Tomato Sweet Aperitif

The ‘Sweet Aperitif’ tomato produces up to 500 red-skinned, bite-sized fruits – that’s about 6kg (300lb)! These cherry tomatoes might be the sweetest you’ll ever eat, but their flavour delicately balances a high sugar content with a pleasingly refreshing tang. This is a cordon variety of tomato, which grows up to 200cm (79”) in a greenhouse or sheltered, sunny spot in the garden.

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From the delicate and understated to the showy and opulent, there’s something for everyone in our 2018’s top-selling plants list. We hope you’ve found one or two (or ten) that you’d like to add to your own garden.

Autumn Pumpkin Festival

Twins reclaim throne as Pumpkin Kings with 2,252lb record breaker

Ian and Stuart Paton UK record holders with Paul Hansord, Thompson & Morgan

Ian and Stuart Paton UK record holders with Paul Hansord, Thompson & Morgan

Hampshire brothers smash the British record and set their sights on the world record in 2017

Ian and Stuart Paton have broken the British record for a giant pumpkin for an incredible 7th time at the annual Autumn Pumpkin Festival in Southampton. The event draws pumpkin growers from across the UK, all hoping to take home the prize for the UK’s largest pumpkin. This year, the Paton’s gargantuan gourd measured more than 19ft in circumference and during its peak period of growth, it piled on a staggering 57lb each day for 2 weeks. To match its rate of growth, the vigilant horticultural siblings, who run Pine Tops Nursery in Hants, lovingly supplied over 100 gallons of water a day, plus a nutrient-rich fertiliser. As the all-important weigh-in date approached, Ian and Stuart were spending 5 hours a day nurturing the 3 giant pumpkins that they entered into the competition. The final weight of the winning entry is just 71lb off the world record.

The new UK heaviest pumpkin record holder

The new UK heaviest pumpkin record holder

 

Each time a record is broken at the annual Jubilee Sailing Trust Autumn Pumpkin Festival, show sponsor – seed and plant mail order specialist Thompson & Morgan – takes the winning specimen back to its Ipswich HQ. The seeds are harvested, tested for viability and prepared for sale, so for any budding giant pumpkin growers inspired by this weekend’s jumbo entries, Thompson & Morgan sell the seeds under the aptly named variety, Pumpkin ‘Paton Twins Giant’. It’s a popular line with amateur growers at just £9.99 for two huge seeds with the genetics to become a record breaker with the right care. It’s the seed of choice for serious competitors too – the majority of entries to this year’s official weigh-in at the Southampton pumpkin event were grown from seeds supplied by the Patons.
The brothers will be using seeds from this year’s crop next year – which they say will bear the best seeds in the country thanks to careful hand pollination of their plants to cross two of their best ever performing plants. And with the world record now held closer to home (Swiss gardener, Ben Meier, took the title in 2014 with a 2,323lb monster) they say they are even more set on achieving the accolade themselves.

Stuart said: “We’ve always been confident of winning the world title eventually, and our new greenhouse has made a big difference with its better soil and light levels, an improved watering system and a larger growing area with a more consistent temperature. We’re well prepared to take on not only the Swiss, but the Americans too.”

T&M Horticultural Director, Paul Hansord said: “It used to be said that the world record would never leave the US, but if the Swiss can do it, so can we. Our seed quality just keeps getting better, thanks to the Patons’ selective pollination, and UK growers are upping the game every year. I’ve every confidence the Paton boys can bring the world title to UK shores in the near future.”

Having just handed over the £1,000 prize cheque and with a promise to pay £10,000 for a British world beater, he could be regretting that confidence in coming years!

To order your own ‘Paton Twins Giant’ Seed and grow a giant yourself next year, visit www.thompson-morgan.com/giant-pumpkin

For further information, images and reader offers/competitions on Paton Twin Giant seeds, please email Julie Rush jrush@thompson-morgan.com or call 01473 695227

T & M now recognised as Google Certified Shop

Thompson & Morgan, which offers one of the UK’s widest ranges of garden seeds, plants, gardening equipment and outdoor living furniture, was recently selected to join the Google Certified Shops program. To help shoppers identify online merchants that offer a great shopping experience, the Google Certified Shops badge is awarded to ecommerce sites that demonstrate a track record of on time shipping and excellent customer service.

When visiting the Thompson & Morgan website (www.thompson-morgan.com), shoppers will see a Google Certified Shops badge and can click on it for more information.

google-press-release-part2

Taking your order & checking your plants

Marketing Services Manager, Clare Dixey said ‘independent reviews from our customers are extremely important both to us and to reassure our online customers. We are delighted to have won this accolade from Google which measures for the very best in customer services, online experience, reliable delivery and product quality’.

As an added benefit, when a shopper makes a purchase at Google Certified Shops, they have the option to select free purchase protection from Google. Then in the unlikely event of an issue with their purchase, they can request Google’s help, and Google will work with Thompson & Morgan and the customer to address the issue. As part of this, Google offers up to £1,000 lifetime purchase protection for eligible purchases.

Google Certified Shops is entirely free, both for shoppers and for online stores. The program helps online stores like Thompson & Morgan attract new customers, increase sales and differentiate themselves by showing off their excellent service via the badge on their websites.

Supplying gardeners since 1855, Thompson & Morgan has a longstanding reputation for its extensive range and seeds and young plants. Following two years of growth and product expansion, the mail order specialist now has everything a gardener could possibly need to get their outdoor space exactly as they want it, all with the convenience of delivery direct to the door. Alongside its award-winning range of flower and vegetable seeds, young plants, fruit trees, bushes and bulbs, customers can now add everything from plant labels, propagators, fertilisers and composts to hand tools, power tools, mowers, sheds and greenhouses, along with a comprehensive range of over 1,200 mature perennials, trees and shrubs.

For more information about Thompson & Morgan, reader offers or image requests please contact Julie Rush on  01473 695227 or email jrush@thompson-morgan.com

incredicompost® rated best on the market!

Independent trials carried out by consumer group Which? Gardening have named incredicompost® as the best compost on the market. It was given an overall test score of 95 per cent, setting it well ahead of the next best performer, Verve multipurpose compost (B&Q) at 80 per cent. It came miles ahead of the worst performer – GroSure Peat-Free All-Purpose Compost with 4 Month Feed, labelled a ‘Don’t Buy’ product by Which? Gardening, having scored just 33 per cent in the trials.

Incredicompost

We knew we were on to a winner with our first move into the compost market. Our aim with incredicompost® has been to develop a premium-quality product that brings consistency and reliability back to the compost market – something that has been missing since the increased use of green waste materials in many well-known brands, in a bid to reduce their peat content. Gardeners are keen to reduce their peat use but many have reported poor results with existing green-waste products.

incredicompost® addresses these consumer concerns. To reduce the peat in our blend we have instead included wood fibre, sourced from Irish saw mills, actually making use of a surplus by-product. This wood fibre is graded by chip size, so each time we make a new batch we can guarantee consistency from our ingredients, leading to consistent performance from the compost.

Incredicompost

incredicompost® comes packed with trace elements and minerals and like many other products includes wetting agent for easy watering, plus a little pre-mixed fertiliser to ensure good early growth. What sets it out from the crowd is a pre-packed sachet of incredibloom® in every bag for mixing in at planting time, ensuring strong healthy growth for 7+ months – a little goes a long way! Separating the feed into a sachet prevents degradation (leading to a lack of nutrients for plants), a common problem with other pre-mixed, long lasting composts.

You can read the full Which? compost trial report in the Jan/Feb 2016 issue.

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