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 are shade tolerant, their foliage is striking and there blooms attract hummingbirds. Trust me: You are going to wonder how you ever got along without these powerhouse plants. There are dozens of varieties of Corel Bells out there, so think of this as a starting point. Once you figure out what you’re drawn to – orange leaves, red blooms, or 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!
When choosing coral bells cultivars, the main attraction is usually the foliage. But don’t discount the flowers. Some have red, hot pink, white, or pale pink flowers on very long stems in the spring and into early summer. Up close they are beautiful. They are also a great “screen” to look through to other things in the garden. They are actually a long lasting cut flower to use as texture in a bouquet with larger flowers. Most Coral bells are not fussy and very easy to care for. Plant in well-drained soil in part shade. Fertilize with compost or a balance slow release fertilizer in the spring. Here in the Midwest you will want to cover them with a layer of mulch or evergreen bough when the ground freezes. This will prevent frost heave once the ground is frozen. This past winter was a great example of the freeze-thaw cycle that can push them out of the ground exposing the roots to cold. Remove the material in early spring, pull off any dead leaves and watch them grow.