Perennials in the garden: Heuchera
Heuchera is a paneling perennial, evergreen, belonging to the saxifragacee family; there are several species, originating in Europe and North America, and many hybrid varieties and cultivars have been produced over the decades. This medium-sized perennial plant has in fact been cultivated in gardens for decades, especially for its beautiful, very decorative leaves.
It is a herbaceous plant, which therefore does not produce woody stems, ground cover, which does not exceed 25-35 cm in height; it has large palmate leaves, with jagged edges, which are very reminiscent of the leaves of the pelargonium. The leaves of heuchera they develop in not too dense, very wide rosettes, carried by long arched petioles; the color of the leaves is varied, depending on the species and variety, and ranges from lemon yellow to dark purple violet. The veins of the leaves are very evident, and sometimes they are also of a contrasting color, to increase the decoration provided by the plant. From late spring, until summer, slender, slightly branched stems stand between the leaves, which can reach fifty centimeters in height, carrying small pink, red, white or yellow flowers.
Easy to grow plant, the leaves tend to be generally persistent, if the climate is favorable; occasionally they can dry out for short periods of time, but much depends on the exposure to which the plant is positioned: in Trentino it may happen that the leaves of heuchera desiccant (even partially) during the winter, especially if grown in complete shade; in Calabria it may happen that some leaves dry out in the event of very high temperatures, especially for plants grown in full sun.
Cultivating the Heuchera
These plants are very resistant and vigorous, and are grown in the ground or in pots, with great ease.
They prefer sunny or semi-shaded positions, even if very dark leaf species prefer to have fewer hours of direct sunlight, while very light leaf species tend to love the direct sun more. Generally they are grown in partial shade, so as to have a shelter from direct sunlight during the hottest hours of the long summer days, but with at least a few hours of sunshine, especially in winter.
They bear very well the cold and the frost, a little less the very intense heat, even if it often happens that in June and July the plants enter a period of vegetative rest, and therefore the excessive heat hardly spoils or damages them.
Throughout the year they are watered only when the soil is dry, avoiding to water them excessively during the summer.
From March to September we supply a fertilizer for green plants, every 12-15 days, mixed with the irrigating water.
Generally speaking, we can consider the heuchera a low maintenance plant, also because the plants that have been living for a long time tend to be satisfied with the water supplied by bad weather; even if it is good to pay attention to the specimens grown in pots, which can suffer if left for a long time without watering.