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10 Perennials for the Northeast


6
Coral Bells

Coral bells (Heuchera) is another plant that does well in shade. Its spikes of flowers can be bright red, pink or white, but for most gardeners, this plant's real beauty lies in its stunning foliage of silver, burgundy, bronze, plum and gold. The best-known coral bells variety is Purple Palace, which has deep purple leaves with bright red undersides. Like other plants that do well in the Northeast, this plant needs very little care to add stunning colors to a garden.

Coral bells' bright colors and shorter height make it a common border in perennial gardens. Although the better-known varieties feature deep, dramatic colors, they do come in many shades, including more subtle light greens and gray. Although the foliage gets all the attention, coral bells has flowers, as well. The tiny flowers grow in spikes on the top of plant and are known to attract hummingbirds [source: Better Homes and Gardens]. Different species can even vary in the reflective qualities of the leaves: Some are shiny and reflect light very well, while others have more of a matte finish. Since most species of coral bells carry color in their foliage, they can provide color longer than plants that rely on their flowers for hue.

While coral bells are hearty, withstanding drought and tolerating moist soil, their ideal soil is well-drained or sandy with a pH of neutral [source: Dave's Garden]. Coral bells' light requirements are loose, as it can thrive in partial shade and full sun, although it will last longer when planted in an area that doesn't face full afternoon sun. Despite needing very little care, coral bells can benefit greatly from occasional fertilizing.

The short, intensely colorful coral bells are a perfect frame for any garden or ground cover, especially in areas where other plants won't grow.

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