Whether your shady spot is underneath a tree or by a fence, there is one particular plant that not only grows, but thrives in shady conditions.
The heuchara – pronounced “Hew-Kera” has undergone a tremendous re-invention in the past few years. Traditionally it was always quite a drab plant, but recently plant breeders in Oregon, USA have given the heuchara a new lease of life. They have created hundreds of different varieties in a multitude of colours, ranging from purples to greens to reds to yellows. They can even grow stained with a numbers of colours. Whatever your colour preference, your shady spot should never be drab again.
The purple type or “Palace Purple” as it is known – in particular experience strong growth in dry shady areas, especially once they are established. They will need a little bit of care in the first year, with careful watering during dry spells. Once their roots are well established, they will find their own moisture.
Plant your heucharas about a foot apart, and over time the clumps will expand and provide a good ground cover. Add mulch and chipped bark between them to seal in the moisture. You can also provide extra nutrients by adding fishmeal or bones to the soil.
Now is the time to start thinking about planting the heuchara. The coming of spring will provide the plant with a head start, and give them a chance to fully establish over the summer months. By next year you could have a cavalcade of colour in the dreariest part of your garden.
If you know of any other shady specialists, we would love to hear from you.