The alumroot delight with bright flowers and decorative foliage. This is how to properly plant and care for this beautiful and bee friendly flower.
Profile of alumroot:
Scientific name: Heuchera
Plant family: saxifrage family (Saxifragaceae)
Other names: coral bells
Sowing time: February to May
Planting time: Spring
Flowering period: June to July
Location: sunny to partially shaded
Soil quality: sandy to loamy, nutrient rich, humus rich, lime tolerant
These information are for temperate climate!
Use in: borders, group planting, planters, under wood planting, natural garden, potted garden
Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 5
Bee and insect friendly: Yes
Plant characteristics and classification of alumroot
Plant order, origin and occurrence of alumroot
Under the botanical name Heuchera, a variety of cultivation forms are summarized. These perennials, also called coral bells, were created from cultivations of American wild species. Émile Lemoine launched the first seedlings in Nancy, France under the name Heuchera x brizoides. The famous grower wanted to combine the bright flower color of the coral bells (Heuchera sanguinea) with the decorative leaves of the American alumroot (Heuchera americana). Alumroot belong to the saxifrage family (Saxifragaceae).
Characteristics of alumroot
The alumroot forms beautiful cluster of leaves, which are between 10 and 45 centimeters (4 and 18 in) high , depending on the variety. Above it are the flower panicles, some up to 75 centimeters (30 in) high. In width, it reaches 30 to 45 centimeters (12 to 15 in).
The lobed leaves are rounded and heart-shaped. The lush green remains beautiful even in winter.
The insect-friendly flowers appear from June to July. The small, hanging bell-shaped flowers line up on a long panicle. Depending on the variety, alumroot bloom in shades of pink, red and white.
The seeds are hidden in small capsule fruits.
Alumroot – cultivation and care
In order to successfully cultivate alumroot, an optimal location is important. They grow best in a partially shaded spot, which should also be as humid as possible. The Heuchera grows even in shady areas of the garden, but only sparsely blooms there. If you only have one sunny spot available, you have to adjust the amount of water accordingly.
In addition to the ideal location, the soil on which the alumroot is cultivated is also an issue. The substrate should have the following properties:
- high permeability
- fresh to moist
- rich in nutrients
If necessary, conventional garden soil can also be mixed with a little clay. If you additionally add small pebbles, you will ensure optimal drainage that allows excess water to drain off quickly. In this way you can effectively counteract the development of root rot.
Mostly you cultivate alumroot outdoors. In a first step, a pit is dug for planting, which should have about 30% more volume than the roots of the plant. The excavated material is then mixed with compost and pebbles before the plant and the soil are put in the hole and watered vigorously. If you want to place several Heuchera, you must keep a distance of 30 cm (12 in) between the individual specimens.
Note: For tall varieties, the guideline value “50% of the expected growth height” applies with regard to the minimum distance. In particular, if the formation of a polster-forming carpet is desired, it has proven useful to plant about five perennials per square meter. However, the plant only develops its full bloom in the second year.
As an alternative to planting outdoors, there is also a cultivation of the alumroot in tubs. For this purpose, one should first lay out a layer of lava chippings on the bottom of the plant container, which acts as a drainage. Then you fill the bucket with humus-rich garden soil.
The Heuchera needs regular watering, especially if the drought persists; however, the respective water portions should be rather small. The top layer of the soil must have dried out between the individual watering. Avoid waterlogging. It is best to water in the early morning or in the evening, this prevents the water from evaporating.
With regard to an additional supply of nutrients, the alumroot is generally quite frugal. It is sufficient to supply the flower with some compost in the spring. At the beginning of the growing season, a complete fertilizer can also be applied. Container plants, on the other hand, should be regularly supplied with slow release fertilizer.
Pruning and Care
Taking care of alumroot primarily involves removing faded stems, which should best be cut back right up to the ground. It is also advisable to remove withered leaves in spring. In this way, the perennial is strengthened overall and then guarantees particularly abundant growth. The wilted inflorescence are then cut off immediately after flowering in August.
If you want to achieve a particularly bushy growth, make a pointedly pruning of 10 cm (4 in) before the plant shoots; ideally in February. Sharp secateurs are used for the cutting measures and must be cleaned thoroughly before and after the cut; this prevents the transmission of fungal pathogens.
The alumroot can be propagated in different ways:
- by division
- with the help of cuttings
- by sowing
The propagation of the plant works particularly easy with the help of a specific division, which ideally takes place after flowering. For this purpose, the plants are carefully excavated with the digging fork, but without damaging the root system. Then you cut them into equal parts; each section should have several leaves and sufficient root mass. Then the individual specimens are put back into the ground.
Note: The specific division not only serves to propagate, but is also one of the important care measures. The plant should be divided at least once every three to four years, even if no propagation is desired.
Propagation by cuttings also works without any problems. The shoots are obtained from the mother perennial in spring. The individual cuttings should have a total length of about 15cm (6 in). After putting into special potting compost and covering with a transparent plastic, roots develop within the following four to six weeks. Then the shoot grows into a young plant.
The seeds of alumroot can be sown from February. It is best to use a flat container for cultivation, which is filled with as poor soil as possible. The seeds are only slightly covered with soil and moistened extensively. The first shoot tips develop in a bright and airy place with regular humidification within the following three weeks. If the young alumroot reach a size of about 15 cm (6 in), they can be placed outdoors.
Diseases and pests
One of the classic diseases from which Heuchera suffers is root rot, which can be recognized by the following features:
- strong smell from the soil
- wither of the plant
- rotting roots
This disease arises primarily from waterlogging and is caused by fungal pathogens that damage the roots of the plant. An antidote is not yet known. However, if the disease is still in its early stages, the plant can be re-planted to a dry substrate. In this way the Heuchera heals itself.
The common pests that attack the alumroot are mainly larvae of the weevil, which damage both the roots and the stems of the plant. As the disease progresses, the perennial withers and then gradually dies back. Targeted nematodes are the main antidote.
The Heuchera is also often infested with spider mites; then bright, tiny dots appear from spring on and later light gray to bronze spots on the leaves, which often curl up and then fall off. In the case of heavy infestation, a covering of delicate webs can also be seen. Predato mites or ground beetles, which are cultivated as useful creatures, help prevent this. Infested parts of plants are best treated with a gentle insecticide, such as rapeseed oil.
Basically, alumroot are hardy up to temperatures of -20 ° C (-4 ° F). However, additional winter protection can be helpful, especially in long cold periods or in particularly cold regions. The following rules apply to bucket keeping:
- Wrapping the container with sackcloth or fleece
- Move to a protected location
- a frost-proof room is not suitable; growth disorders can occur quickly
Anyone who cultivates the Heuchera outdoors should cover the soil around the crop with a layer of compost. As the material slowly decomposes, not only protection against frost is ensured, but also a supply of important nutrients.
Use in the garden
The Heuchera serves as a border for mound beds and borders, but the plant is also used in near-natural plantings and under trees. Due to its foliage forming polster, alumroot can also be used as ground cover or as an underplant for large trees.
Alumroot show up best when planted in groups. Combinations with other plants allow the delicate plants to really come into their own. Other ornamental perennials are particularly suitable for this, for example baby’s breath (Gypsophila paniculata) or lady’s mantle ( Alchemilla). Heuchera also look very decorative in the middle of floribunda roses or in the immediate vicinity of thuja, boxwood and hostas. Those who plant low varieties of the alumroot are best combined with houseleek (Sempervivum) or sea pink (Armeria maritima).
As an alternative to planting outdoors, alumroot can also be cultivated in pots or tubs.
Alumroot are available in different types. Varieties with bright and strong colors are particularly popular, this includes above all the variety Red Spangles, which develops bright scarlet shades and shows a deciduous polster about 20 cm (8 in) high. In July, the plant then presents intensely salmon-red shimmering flower bells that hang on 50 cm (20 in) high stems. On the other hand, if you prefer bright pink tones, you should use the variety Scintillation. As a purple bell with bright flowers and a particularly low leaf crest, the plant is particularly suitable for the bed front.
On the other hand, a special shade of color is achieved with the variety Jam, which forms green and purple leaves and in this way unfolds special decorative elements. The total height of the plant is about 30cm (12 in). The variety Rio also sets particularly colorful accents, the color of its leaves varies depending on the season and varies from brown to yellow. If you choose this variety, you will enjoy the alumroot for a long time, as the perennial blooms into autumn. On the other hand, if not only a color-intensive foliage, but an additional leaf pattern is desired, the variety Blackberry Jam is suitable. The foliage is dark purple, while fine light pink lines set decorative accents. The perennial grows compact and quite low and is therefore suitable as a classic polster.
Frequently asked Questions
The alumroot form spots on the leaves, although they are cultivated in partial shade. What could be the cause of this phenomenon?
Some varieties cannot be grown in full sun; this includes, above all, plants with yellow and orange foliage, which form leaf spots when they are exposed to intense sunlight. Red-leaved varieties, on the other hand, tolerate sunny areas in the garden quite well.
There are many varieties available, but are there other types of alumroot?
Occasionally two other species are offered: crevice alumroot or smallflower alumroot (Heuchera micrantha), 50-90 cm (20 to 36 in) high, gray marbled leaves, pink or white flowers and coral bells (Heuchera sanguinea), 30-40 cm (12 to 16 in) high, strong red or white flowers in shorter panicles.
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