I've been thinking about heucheras a lot recently. I know, there are lot to think about - and actually that's the point. There are so many that are good foliage plants, but what is it that makes the special few really special?
Two things I think. Varieties that change during the year, their foliage color shifting from one color to another so that the one plant looks different at different seasons is one important factor, I'll be giving a few thoughts on that next time. The other feature I look for is varieties that have good flowers as well as good foliage.
This is the list I came up with for the best heucheras for both flower and foliage. Of these 'Rave On' (above, click to enlarge) is my top pick.
'Café Ole' 'Cinnabar Silver'
'Paris' 'Peppermint Spice'
'Pretty Perrine' 'Rave On'
I then asked Vicky Fox of Plantagogo, one of the two British nurseries who specialize in heucheras, what she thought of my list and if she had any other recommendations. She's grown more heucheras than I've ever heard of so she's well worth asking. Here's what she said:
"All the ones you mentioned are good although I find 'Rave On' (above, click to enlarge) can be hit and miss - a bit thin on the foliage sometimes, flowers well though. 'Shanghai' (below, click to enlarge) has fabulous flowers here continually flowering all summer, it has beautiful foliage on a compact plant. It would be a sin not to mention it. 'Fireworks' and 'Ebony and Ivory' are good flowering varieties too, with attractive foliage.
"Out of the older varieties 'Rachel' flowers for a long time and 'Jade Gloss is really good too, it flowers all summer with lovely foliage. Our favourite picks in the UK would be 'Milan', 'Paris', 'Rachel', 'Jade Gloss' and 'Shanghai' (below, click to enlarge). 'Havana' is nice but must have plenty of shade, it flowers very well in right position and of course the foliage is stunning."
Well, it's good to know that I've not gone completely mad and that Vicky likes my list. I should mention that 'Stainess Steel' and 'Moonlight' have not yet made it to Britain so she couldn’t really comment on those two. It's such a help when you get advice from someone who really knows the plants and grows them all.
You can check out the Plantagogo nursery website, run by Vicky and Richard Fox, at Plantagogo.com. Please note that they do send plants to North America.
Next time, heucheras whose foliage changes with the seasons.