Top 10 Shade Tolerant Coral Bells

Discover why these fabulous shade tolerant beauties are some of the best-kept secrets in the garden. You’re going to wonder how you ever got along without these powerhouse plants!

Once you start growing coral bells, you won’t be able to stop. Yet they are among the most underused plants in the garden. These charmers (also known as heucheras) are shade tolerant, their foliage is striking and their blooms attract hummingbirds. Trust me: You’re going to wonder how you ever got along without these powerhouse plants. There are dozens of varieties of coral bells out there, so think of this list as a starting point. Once you figure out what you’re drawn to—orange leaves, red blooms, variegated foliage—start looking around for more. The sheer number of options will blow you away, and then you can start spreading the news to others!

Proven Winners
Blackberry Ice

Blackberry Ice

Zones 4-9

This reddish-purple variety is part of the popular heat-tolerant Dolce series. Take a close look at the leaves, and you’ll see black veining. While some heucheras bloom in spring, this one shows off pretty white blossoms in midsummer.

More dark foliage: Chocolate Ruffles, Lava Lamp

Terra Nova Nurseries
Berry Smoothie

Berry Smoothie

Zones 4-8

The foliage starts off rose-pink but darkens to a purplish shade as the summer goes on. The light pink blooms start in late spring; if you keep deadheading them, you should get flowers all summer long. Grow in partial shade and keep the plants well watered, especially when you’re trying to get them established.

More burgundy picks: Plum Pudding, Bella Notte

Walters Gardens Inc.
Citronelle

Citronelle

Zones 4-8

If heat tolerance is a requirement for your plants, this is one of the best coral bells for you. The lime-green foliage alone will turn heads. Grow this one in partial shade for best results.

More lime-green picks: Electric Lime, Pistache, Lime Marmalade

Walters Gardens Inc.
Gold Zebra

Gold Zebra

Zones 4-9

This whimsically named heuchera gives you two dramatic foliage colors for the price of one: Its bright yellow leaves, scalloped at the edges, boast dark red centers. Gold Zebra performed like a champ during testing in hot, humid Oklahoma summers. Be sure to plant it in at least partial shade.

More variegated picks: Solar Eclipse, Ring of Fire

Walters Gardens Inc.
Caramel

Caramel

Zones 4-8

Here’s another one that can really withstand the summer heat! It can stand up to sunny locations, but it will do best if you can offer it some shady relief and sufficient moisture, especially in the afternoon. Around midsummer, look for soft pink blooms shooting up from the rich caramel foliage.

More caramel-colored picks: Christa, Buttered Rum

Terra Nova Nurseries
Peppermint Spice

Peppermint Spice

Zones 4-9

Many gardeners consider Peppermint Spice the perfect coral bell cultivar, with its gorgeous rose-pink blossoms—what many think of when they picture heucheras—and silvery-green foliage. Expect flowers to open in summer and plants to grow 8-10 inches tall.

More red blooms: Ruby Bells, Berry Timeless

Terra Nova Nurseries
Green Spice

Green Spice

Zones 4-9

Here’s another heuchera with really cool veined foliage, plus flashes of silver. In colder weather, the veins have a purple cast. The little white flowers will appear in late spring or early summer.

More top leaf picks: Cinnamon Curls, Brass Lantern

Terra Nova Nurseries
Midnight Rose

Midnight Rose

Zones 4-9

Love dramatic foliage? You can’t go wrong with the black leaves of this one. They start off very dark, with tiny specks of pink that get bigger and paler as the season goes on. At just 10 inches high, this cultivar has a low, mounding growth habit.

More black foliage: Obsidian, Brazen Raisin

Walters Gardens Inc.
Amber Waves

Amber Waves

Zones 3-8

This one’s a prizewinner, having grabbed a “best new plant” award in 2001, and it’s not hard to see why. You get lovely copper foliage, ruffled leaves, pink buds and cream-colored blooms.

More award winners: Stormy Seas, Melting Fire, Quilter’s Joy

Terra Nova Nurseries
Hollywood

Hollywood

Zones 4-9

Most people grow heuchera for the foliage, but Hollywood is proof that this plant deserves applause for its flowers, too. Hummingbirds love coral bells, and the bright red blooms of this one will have them flocking to your yard. The foliage is nice, too: dark with a touch of silver and scalloped edges.

More delectable blooms: Heucherella Dayglow Pink, Heucherella Honey Rose

Stacy Tornio
Stacy Tornio is a freelance writer and author with more than 15 gardening and outdoorsy books. She tries to get as much sunshine as possible and is currently on a quest to see all the national parks in North America.