Questions with Laura Robles

Advertorial - ask the experts: Heuchera

The hues of Heuchera: The colorful foliage of this fetching perennial shines in the garden.

November 3, 2020

Heuchera is a crop that has gained in popularity over the years due to its colorful foliage and variety of uses in the garden. The rainbow of foliage colors available on the market make Heuchera an excellent combination component. But many of the newer genetics also perform very well in the garden and provide a nice pop of color in shady parts of the garden, and there are several varieties that do equally well in full sun. Laura Robles, trials manager at Walters Gardens, explains some best management practices for Heuchera production.

What is the best time to start a crop of Heuchera?

Heuchera is a relatively easy crop for growers to finish. They are commonly sold as a foliage plant and can be started from fresh (non-vernalized) plugs or liners the same season, with inputs commonly transplanted in late winter to late spring. Typical input sizes are 72-count plugs, which will finish in a true gallon in 10 to 12 weeks, or larger 20-count plugs that cut the growing time down to 6 to 8 weeks. If flowers are desired, as they sometimes are for varieties with more attractive flowers or heavy flower production, plants should be vernalized to ensure the best flowering performance. Start these varieties in the late summer to early fall, bulk, and then provide 8 to 10 weeks at temperatures below 40°F, or use large vernalized plugs planted in the spring.

What’s the best soil mixture for this crop?

Heuchera perform best when grown under average moisture conditions to slightly on the dry side. A well-drained media goes a long way in helping to ensure that your crop isn’t staying too wet and can be especially important if overwintering a Heuchera crop, as wet conditions promote crown and root rots. Heuchera have fine root systems, so also avoid too dry of media conditions as this can damage root tips and create an entry point for pathogens.

Photos courtesy of
Walters Gardens

Are there any pests or diseases that are particularly troublesome for Heuchera? What’s the best way to avoid them?

While there are several pests and diseases that can sometimes be a problem on heuchera, there tend to be just a few that are more prevalent. Aphids and black vine weevils are two of the more common pests to watch out for, and crops should be scouted on a regular basis to find these pests before the population explodes. There are several biological and chemical controls for both pests.

The main diseases to scout for are botrytis, bacterial leaf spots, and crown/stem/root rots. Maintaining adequate air circulation and proper spacing around plants, managing the humidity, and practicing good irrigation techniques such as not letting plants sit wet overnight are all excellent ways to prevent these diseases.

What’s one thing most growers get wrong with Heuchera?

An important thing to avoid when transplanting is planting them too deep. Plugs should be planted so that the soil surface of the plug is even with the soil surface of the finished container. Planting too deep, so that the crown is buried, often leads to an increase in crown rot and overall slower growth and development of the crop.

Is there anything a grower can do to get their crop of Heuchera to finish faster?

Heuchera are already fairly quick to finish, the main way to speed up your crop even further is through variety selection. There are definite differences in finish time between varieties, so for a quick crop be sure to select a variety with good vigor.

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