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Best heucheras for North America

Heuchera 'Apple Crisp' (above) and 'Tiramisu'. Images Terra Nova Nurseries and GardenPhotos.comLast month, I reported on heucheras recommended for British gardens by one of the top British Heuchera specialists. As I discussed in my recent piece about plant awards, recommendations intended for British gardeners are not much use in the US – and even here in America a plant which thrives in one part of the country may well be less successful in another. But the US is the home of the Heuchera, so I’ve now taken some expert advice on the best heucheras for American gardeners.

I went to Steve Rokopf who runs the mail order nursery Casita Azul in Wisconsin and who, as far as I can count, lists more heucheras than anyone else – 129 as I write this, with more on the way - and sends them all over. (And you should see his range of hostas…)

So keeping in mind the dramatic climatic differences across the country, here are Steve’s thoughts on the types of heucheras that do well in three important regions, together with his specific recommendations.

Mid Atlantic States (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., New York, Virginia, and West Virginia. North Carolina is sometimes also included.)
“Extremes in seasonal conditions dictate which heucheras do best in the Mid Atlantic States.  Most of today's hybrids contain some Heuchera americana genetics, this is the species that does well growing in hot summers and freezing winters.  Most of today's newer varieties will grow nicely in Mid Atlantic States.”
‘Apple Crisp’ Crunchily crisped fresh green leaves overlaid in silver.
‘Gotham’ Primrose yellow flowers set against reddish black leaves.
‘Melting Fire’ Blood red young leaves mature to rich reddish purple. Seed raised.
‘Silver Scrolls’ Bright silver foliage, edged and veined in rich red.
‘Tiramisu’ Chartreuse foliage, overlaid with red.
Heuchera 'Midnight Rose' (above) and 'Caramel'. Images ©GardenPhotos.comThe South (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas.)
“Heat and humidity are the two big challenges, heucheras that thrive in the south must be able to tolerate both. Plants with Heuchera villosa genes are "heat-seekers" that do very well in the south.  And Southern gardeners are better off planting their heucheras in shadier locations."
‘Caramel’ Toffee-colored foliage is reddish below.
‘Georgia Plum’ Rosy purple leaves overlaid in silver.
‘Midnight Rose’ Reddish black leaves speckled in pink.
‘Midnight Ruffles’ Reddish brown, highly ruffled foliage shows red sparks from the undersides.
‘Tara’ Jagged, golden foliage is red-tinted in spring.
Pacific Northwest (Oregon and Washington and the Canadian province of British Columbia.)
“Moist conditions can be a challenge for heucheras.  Plants that can tolerate consistently moderate temperatures and moist "feet" are best for the Pacific Northwest.  The hybrids with Heuchera micrantha genes will tolerate the wetness better than most and many of today's hybrids have genetics from species that are native to the West Coast and the Pacific Northwest.  Excellent drainage is the key”
‘Blackout’ Glossy, almost black leaves and cream flowers.
‘Glitter’ Reflective silver leaves with black veins.
‘Hercules’ Rich green, boldly white-variegated leaves, plus carmine flowers.
‘Lime Ruffles’ Ruffled limey leaves with a delicate silvery haze.
‘Plum Royale’ Glossy purple leaves and white flowers.

That sounds like great advice to me. And it’s clear that with so many recent introductions, there’s now a good choice of types available for all regions.
Heuchera 'Glitter' (left) and 'Lime Ruffles'. Images ©Terra Nova Nurseries