With maple-like leaves in shades of chocolate, bronze, burgundy, red, and deep green, foamy bells (X Heucherella) is an exceptional foliage plant for sunny or dappled-shade gardens.
Spires of pink or white flowers rise above the foliage in late spring. After flowers bloom, the foliage stands out with interesting texture and variegation. Good companions for foamy bells include hostas, ferns, and short grasses.
Where does this plant get it strange name? Hybridization: In the botanical name (X Heucherella), the X before the signifies that the plant was created by crossing plants from two different genuses (aka genera)—coral bells (Heuchera) and foam flower (Tiarella).
Common name: Foamy bells
Botanical name: X Heucherella
Plant type: Perennial
Height: 16 to 24 inches, depending on cultivar
Zones: 4 to 9, depending on cultivar
• Sun: Sun to part shade, but tolerates full shade
• Soil: Light, well-drained, neutral to slightly acidic, and humus-rich
• Moisture: Evenly moist
• Mulch: In cooler climates apply winter mulch after the ground has frozen to protect roots.
• Fertilizer: Apply one light application of balanced fertilizer per summer, if needed.
• Pruning: Snip off spent flower spikes.
• Divide plants in the fall every three to four years.
Pests and diseases
• No special problems with pests or diseases.
• ‘Stoplight' (pictured above) has yellow leaves with a bright red center and spikes of white blooms that grow 12 inches tall. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9.
• ‘Pink Frost' has silver-tinged leaves and panicles of pink flowers. Grows 12 to 18 inches tall and is hardy in Zones 4 to 9.
• ‘Birthday Cake' has light chocolate overtones in the foliage and creamy white flowers. It grows 18 inches tall and is hardy in Zones 4 to 9.
• Foamy bells performs well in sun in cooler climates, but likes afternoon shade in areas with hot summers.
• Keep evenly moist to prevent foliage scorch in hot weather.
• Foamy bells usually flower a second time in the fall.
• Cut stems of spent flowers to encourage blooms and showcase foliage.
• Foamy bells are attractive as groundcover or as edging along the front of a border.
All in the family
Other perennials in this family include Astilbe, Bergenia, and Saxifrage, as well as Heuchera and Tiarella, the two plants from which x Heucherella is hybridized. Like foamy bells, these perennials have handsome foliage.
Text by Mary Pestel, photo courtesy of Wayside Gardens, www.waysidegardens.com