Overwinter your Coral Bells (Heuchera/Heucherella)

October 20th, 2020 – By J. L. Wells

Heuchera 60 Seeds Mixed Coral Bells Seeds - year-round palette of colours

Today I will be talking about overwintering your coral bells. It is a simple task and won’t take much time, unless you have a forest of them! Hehe.

First things first, make sure you have straw/hay, fallen leaves, cut grass, or compost. Whether you use one or multiple methods, you will be at least 2-6 inches for each plant you have. Once you have the amount you need, either use some gardening shears, a pair of scissors, or using your fingers, cut back each plant to a small mound. Make sure not to butcher too much off or else you may risk not allowing it to survive. Plants tend to be finicky sometimes so take caution. Watch your local or national news to get the forecast near you or statewide to see how the weather will be in the coming days. When you see that the temperatures are ranging below freezing more frequently soon, cover your coral bells as soon as you can. This will allow you get ahead of the game so the frost doesn’t have time to seep into the ground and kill the roots. Depending on the side of your coral bells, range each plant around 2-6 inches of whatever you are using the cover them. Smaller plants will be less covering, while the larger ones will need more.

Do not worry about cutting back anymore of the plant. Since most of it will be covered anyways, allow creatures that prowl through the winter to have some food to eat or just let the winter kill off those leaves. Your main concern is making sure the roots don’t get too cold while keeping in mind of how moist the ground is. If the ground gets too wet during the later winter/early spring during the thaw period, you could potentially get root rot, mold/mildew, fungous, or some kind of disease that could kill the plant. When you notice the weather is starting to get a bit wet, pull back some of the coverings that you used or let some air to pass through. If there are any more off-chances of frost, cover completely back up for the night then under during the day and repeat until the threat of frost is gone.

Once any threats of frost are gone, then you can start to remove the coverings from each plant and allowing air to flow through the ground in that area again. If the ground is wet, then let it be until there are dry spells. You have a better chance of killing the plant with too much water than not enough. Letting the ground dry up a bit during each watering is a must but don’t wait too long to water again. When the weather starts to climb into the 80s, 90s, and 100s, make sure you are watering 2-3 times a day for about 5-10 minutes each plant. It may seem like a long time to water, but you have to put into account that the ground around each plant is going to be dry as well. That then causes any water you use to seep outward more than downward, not getting to the roots that are deeper down. If you are unsure whether you got far down enough, either use your finger or get a small hand shovel and check the soil a bit aways from the base of the plant. Make sure to check 4-5 inches down.

Well, that probably felt like a lot of information but trust me, it isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Once you understand the steps in which you need to take, you can prepare yourself throughout each year to come. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me. I will do my very best to assist you in anyway that I can.

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