Coral Bells Plant: How To Grow Coral Bells, Shade Tolerant, Plant, Care Tips

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Gardening | April 3, 2024

Man looking at coral bells plant types after learning how to identify coral bells, how to grow and plant coral bells for home gardens, and common coral bell growing and care tips.

The Coral Bells plant, also known as alumroot due to its medicinal qualities,3 is a popular shade-loving perennial prized for its colorful foliage and delicate bell-shaped blooms.

With hundreds of named cultivars available, you can find Coral Bells in a rainbow of leaf colors like purple, burgundy, lime green, silver, peach, and more to give your garden that extra pop.

This comprehensive Coral Bells Plant guide will provide you with everything you need to know about growing Coral Bells, including how and where to plant them, how to care for them, and how to use them in your garden to achieve the best result.

Coral Bells, Alumroot


Coral Bells plant image in an oval frame on green background
  • Family: Saxifragaceae
  • Genus: Heuchera
  • Leaf: Heart-shaped, rounded, palmately lobed, evergreen to semi-evergreen
  • Seed: Dark brown to black, ovoid, spiny
  • Blossoms: Bell-shaped, in clusters, pink, red, white, bloom in late spring to early summer
  • Native Habitat: North America; woodlands, prairies, rocky cliffs
  • Height: 8 to 18 inches tall
  • Type: Herbaceous perennial
  • Native Growing Zone: USDA zones 3 to 9

Introducing the Heuchera Plant: Coral Bells Plant Overview

Coral bells (Heuchera) are herbaceous perennials that form mounding clumps with woody crowns at their base.4

Their attractive foliage and delicate flowers are the main features of these plants, often remaining colorful through winter in milder climates. Hundreds of named cultivars offer a diverse palette of leaf colors like green, purple, silver, chartreuse, burgundy, and variegated combinations.

Native to woodland areas of North America, these hardy plants are relatively low maintenance and adapt well to gardens and containers.

Coral Bells Plant identification chart showing a full grown Coral Bells Plant with Coral Bells leaves, Coral Bells flowers, and Coral Bells seed pod images, along with a color-coded US map for their best growing zones.

Starting in late spring, Coral Bells produce delicate spikes of bell-shaped flowers in a wide variety of colors depending on the variety.4 These flowers attract hummingbirds and different types of bees as well as various types of butterflies.

Some species and cultivars offer blooms through summer and even into fall.

Growing Coral Bells (How To Grow Coral Bells)

If you’re looking to add a touch of elegance and vibrant color to your garden, growing Coral Bells plant is an excellent choice.

You can propagate Coral Bells through seeds or division in spring or fall.4

Growing a Coral Bells Plant From a Seed

Though Coral Bells are usually purchased as young nursery plants, you can also propagate them yourself from seed.

Top-shot of a young Heuchera Plant planted on the ground.

(Image: Flowersinmyyard7)

For the best results, gather fresh seeds from species plants rather than named hybrids which may not come true from seed.

Here’s how to start Coral Bells from seed:

  1. Allow pods to dry on the plants after flowering finishes. Crush the pods to release the small seeds which are dark brown to black.
  2. Refrigerate the seeds for 4-6 weeks
  3. In late fall, sprinkle seeds over the soil surface where you want plants to grow. Don’t cover them since they need light to germinate.
  4. Keep the area consistently moist until seedlings emerge in spring. Thin young plants to 8-12 inches apart.
  5. Transplant seedlings to the garden after hardening off gradually. Be sure to pamper first-year plants with shade and regular watering.

When starting Coral Bells from seed, you likely won’t see flowers the first year. However, the juvenile foliage can be just as showy as mature plants.

Growing Coral Bells from seed is incredibly rewarding but it will surely test your patience. For quicker results, buy young nursery plants instead from a garden center.

Propagating Coral Bells Plant by Division

An easier way to increase your stock of Coral Bells is by dividing established clumps.

Mature plants tend to lose vigor after 3 to 4 years so division also serves to rejuvenate them.

For the best results, divide Coral Bells in early spring or fall. Follow these tips:

  1. Using a shovel or garden fork, dig up the entire clump. Shake off excess soil from the roots.
  2. Gently pull or cut the root mass into smaller clumps with 3 to 5 growth buds each. Discard the old woody center section.
  3. Prepare planting holes and enrich soil with organic matter. Set divisions in holes with the crown barely covered by soil.
  4. Water well and shelter from direct overhead sun until the transplant reestablishes.

Dividing overgrown Coral Bells keeps these perennials looking their best.

Additionally, you can also expand your color palette by propagating different named cultivars in the same area. Be sure to share divisions with your gardening friends, too.

Planting Tips for Coral Bells Plant

Learning how to properly cultivate and care for these charming plants is important, so grab your pen and paper and make sure to take note of some essential tips on planting one from this point forward.

The following planting tips can hep ensure that your coral bell plant stays healthy and flourishes.

Best Growing Conditions for Coral Bells Plant

Native to woodlands and prairies, Coral Bells naturally thrive in organically rich, medium moisture and well-draining soil.4

The soil should be slightly acidic with a pH between 6.0 to 7.0. You can improve drainage in clay soils by mixing in compost or other organic matter then mulch your plants to conserve soil moisture and protect their shallow roots.

Established Coral Bells can tolerate some drought but grow best with decent moisture in the soil.

How Much Sunlight Does Coral Bell Need Each Day?

Coral Bells prefer partial to full shade in hot climates but they can also tolerate full sun in cooler areas.4

When adding these charmers to your yard, look for a partially shaded spot. Dappled sunlight filtering through trees is ideal. Morning sun with afternoon shade works well in many regions too.

Partially shaded coral bells plant with some coral bells leaves bathe in sunlight.

(Image: David J. Stang8)

Although some sun-tolerant hybrids can handle a few hours of direct sun, most Coral Bells prefer shade. Their shallow roots make adequate moisture critical as well.

Areas near downspouts or leaky hoses create suitable microclimates for Coral Bells. Therefore, plant them along foundations or under the filtered light of tall trees.

Be sure to provide afternoon shade if you plant them in full sun. To achieve the best leaf color, provide at least 4 hours of moderate sun be it morning or evening.

Coral Bell Growing Zone

In terms of coral bells plant growing zone, in general, Coral Bells tend to grow well in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9 depending on the variety.5

It is highly advisable to choose Coral Bell cultivars that can endure the lower temperatures of Zone 4 in colder places with hard winters. Gardeners can, however, choose types that flourish in Zone 9 in more temperate climates.

Check the recommended planting zones for the exact variety you wish to grow in your garden to ensure the maximum performance and longevity of coral bells, as some may have more specialized requirements within this greater range.

How To Plant Coral Bells

Be sure to choose a spot with rich soil and partial sun then space your plants 12 to 24 inches apart depending on their mature size.

Areas with morning sun and afternoon shade are ideal. You can purchase young potted plants or divisions from a garden center near you.

Follow these planting tips:

  • Prepare the soil well by mixing in several inches of compost or other organic material.
  • Dig a hole the same depth and width as the container.
  • Carefully remove the plant from its pot, loosen any bound roots, and place it in the hole.
  • Backfill soil around the plant, firming the soil gently.
  • Water thoroughly after planting.
  • Apply an organic mulch around plants to retain moisture.

Water regularly the first year until established at which point the plants have moderate water needs. Avoid planting Coral Bells in wet and poorly draining sites.

Once fully established, apply a thin layer of compost each spring as Coral Bells tend to have light fertilizer needs. Note that excess feeding can inhibit blooming; some neglect is actually good for Coral Bells.

When To Plant Coral Bells

Coral bells are best planted in spring or fall,4 since these seasons offer the best circumstances for their establishment and development.

Planting in the spring permits the plant to establish its root system in colder locations before the summer heat arrives. In contrast, fall planting offers coral bells an opportunity to take root deeply before the start of winter frost in areas with milder winters.

Growing Coral Bells in Containers

Coral bells also grow beautifully in containers where their colorful foliage takes center stage.2

To grow Coral Bells in a container, use a quality potting mix and choose a pot with drainage holes.

You can also combine Coral Bells with shade annuals like begonias or impatiens for an even more beautiful result.

Coral bells plant planted in a container showing a dense and vibrant foliage.

(Image: Dominicus Johannes Bergsma9)

Be sure to move pots to a sheltered spot for winter in colder climates then cease watering and allow containers to go dormant once cold weather arrives.

Companion Plants: What To Plant With Coral Bells

These plants combine beautifully with Coral Bells:

  • Lungwort
  • Astilbe
  • Hostas
  • Japanese painted ferns
  • Toad Lillies
  • Bleeding hearts
  • Other shade perennials

Coral Bells Care

Coral bells are relatively easy to care for once established. Follow these growing tips for the best results:

  • Fertilize lightly in spring with compost or a balanced organic fertilizer. Too much fertilizer might reduce flowering.
  • Pruning is not a must but can rejuvenate overgrown plants. Cut back old leaves by 1/3 their height before new growth starts in spring. Deadheading spent blooms also promote continued flowering.
  • Divide crowded clumps every 3 to 4 years in spring or fall to rejuvenate the plants.
  • Mulch plants to conserve moisture and prevent winter heaving in colder climates.
  • Grow dwarf Coral Bells varieties in containers, refreshing the potting mix yearly. Move pots to protected areas in winter.
  • Watch for fungal issues like powdery mildew in damp, shaded sites. Improve drainage and air circulation.
  • Remove faded flower stalks to encourage reblooming.

With proper planting and care focused on providing lightly shaded, organically enriched sites, Coral Bells will flourish, lighting up your garden with their colorful leaves and delicate blooms.

Watering Needs for Coral Bells Plants

Water first-year plants regularly until their roots are well developed.

Coral Bells don’t handle too moist conditions or drought stress well, so finding a balance is crucial. Mature Coral Bells tolerate some drought but prefer consistent moisture.

Generally speaking, it’s better to water them thoroughly and deeply, letting the soil become a little bit dry in between.

The amount of watering required will vary depending on a number of elements, such as the soil type, climate, and particular Coral Bell species you are cultivating.

The secret to growing Coral Bells successfully is to keep an eye on them and change your watering schedule as necessary.

Why Are the Leaves on My Coral Bells Losing Color?

Although Coral Bells need at least 4 hours of direct sunlight for the best foliage color, if the foliage fades or loses color intensity, the plant likely needs more shade. Intense sunlight can burn leaves and cause them to lose their vibrant colors.

Different Coral Bells colors and types planted in a giant round container island at a garden exhibition.

(Image: Stephen Boisvert10)

Move plants to a site with dappled or morning sunlight only. Ensure adequate moisture as well during spells of hot weather.

Coral Bells offer a no-fuss way to inject color into shady garden beds, borders, and containers. Their minimal care appeals to busy gardeners.

Once planted in the ideal lightly shaded, organically enriched soil, Coral Bells will reward you with vivid foliage and delicate blooms year after year.

Problems With Coral Bells

Coral bells have very few pest or disease issues.4 However, potential problems and their respective prevention/solution include:

  • Powdery mildew: Improve air circulation and reduce shade/moisture.
  • Leaf scorch: Provide shade or move plants to a shadier spot.
  • Root weevils: Remove larvae; use insecticidal soap as needed.
  • Frost heaving: Apply winter mulch after the ground freezes.
  • Rotting crowns: Improve drainage in overly moist sites.
  • Slugs, Snails, and Foliar nematodes: pick them off or use a jet of water

You can avoid the few problems associated with Coral Bells by improving air circulation and avoiding overhead watering. Be sure to remove infected foliage promptly and apply neem oil to deter pests on affected plants.

Common Coral Bells Varieties (Types of Coral Bells)

With hundreds of named Coral Bells cultivars available offering a rainbow of foliage colors,4 how do you choose the best one for your garden? Here are some of the most popular easy-care varieties to consider:

  • Heuchera ‘Caramel’: Its foliage emerges as peach then ages to amber. Heat tolerant and sun resistant.
  • Heuchera ‘Citronelle’: Its vivid lime-yellow foliage tolerates heat well. For part shade.
  • Heuchera ‘Obsidian’: Its striking dark purple-black leaves hold color well. For sun or shade.
  • Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’: A classic variety with olive to bronze-purple leaves and pink flowers.
  • Heuchera ‘Amber Waves’: Its ruffled coppery leaves start bright then mellow. Cream blooms.
  • Heuchera ‘Plum Pudding’: Has shiny purple leaves with bright pinkish-white flowers. Shade-loving.
  • Heuchera ‘Gold Zebra’: It has yellow leaves with dark red centers. Ruffled scalloped edges.
  • Heuchera ‘Midnight Rose’: It has intense black leaves with tiny pink specks. Heat tolerant.
  • Heuchera ‘Green Spice’: It has large green leaves heavily veined in maroon-red. White blooms.
  • Heuchera ‘Hollywood’: Has dark foliage with silver spots. Vibrant red blooms attract hummingbirds.

Heat and Sun Tolerant Varieties

While most Coral Bells need shade, certain varieties tolerate more sun and heat:

  • Heuchera ‘Caramel’
  • Heuchera ‘Citronelle’
  • Heuchera ‘Obsidian’
  • Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’
  • Heuchera ‘Fire Chief’
  • Heuchera ‘Midnight Rose’

Work With Your Local Nursery

With so many Coral Bells varieties to select from it helps to enlist your local nursery’s planting expertise.1

Describe your site’s sun exposure, soil type, and other conditions. They can recommend suitable Coral Bells varieties for your location that will provide years of beauty and easy care.

A reputable nursery will carry healthy, clearly labeled plants and offer advice to ensure your gardening success.

Using Coral Bells in Your Garden

There are many different ways you can use Coral Bells in your garden including:6

  • As edging plants along pathways, garden beds, and pond edges.
  • Grouping them in lightly shaded cottage gardens and woodland settings.
  • Their mounding form also allows Coral Bells to mix well in perennial and mixed borders.
  • Low-growing Coral Bells excel as groundcovers on slopes and in other erosion control applications.
  • Plant en masse for striking color impact
  • You can also grow Coral Bells in rock gardens and hanging baskets

Whichever way you decide to add Coral Bells Plant to your garden, just be sure to avoid hot, dry, and direct sun locations.

Frequently Asked Questions About Coral Bells Plant

What Are the Best Conditions for Growing Coral Bells?

Coral bells thrive in light shade and organically rich, moist but well-draining soil.4 Dappled sunlight is ideal but provide 4-6 hours of filtered sun unless you have a heat-tolerant variety; otherwise, shelter from the hot afternoon sun.

How Do I Propagate Coral Bells?

In early spring or fall, you can propagate Coral Bells by splitting mature clusters. Lift entire plants, divide into clumps, and replant with the crown just below soil level.

Learn More About Coral Bells Plant


1Bachman, G. R. (2018, May 28). Heuchera varieties thrive in landscapes. Mississippi State University Extension. Retrieved October 3, 2023, from <>

2Banks, S. (2021, October 4). Planting Coral Bells (Heuchera). NC Cooperative Extension. Retrieved October 3, 2023, from <>

3Heims, D. (2012, January 6). NGB’s Perennial of the Year 2012: Heuchera. University of Wisconsin-Extension. Retrieved October 3, 2023, from <>

4North Carolina State University. (2023). Heuchera. North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox. Retrieved October 3, 2023, from <>

5North Carolina State University. (2023). Heuchera ‘Northern Exposure’. North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox. Retrieved October 3, 2023, from <>

6Smith, A. (2019, October 3). UT Gardens’ October 2019 Plant of the Month: Coral Bells. University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. Retrieved October 3, 2023, from <>

7Heuchera cylindrica spring growth Photo by Flowersinmyyard / Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0). Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <>

8Heuchera Plum Puddin Photo by David J. Stang / Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0). Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <>

9Heuchera marmalade Photo by Dominicus Johannes Bergsma / Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0). Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <>

10Heuchera Island @ Malvern Garden Show Photo by Stephen Boisvert / Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0). Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <>