How to Grow Coral Bells (Heuchera sanguinea)

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Real Men Sow

Heuchera sanguinea is a common name for “coral bells”, which is used to refer to several species of Heuchera genus that include hundreds of hybrids and varieties, is used. Coral bells are a perennial leaf plant that is traditional. The flowers are rich in nectar and attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Their leaves can be lobed, rounded, hairy, and either evergreen or semi-evergreen depending on the environment. 

Coral bells should be planted in the late fall or early spring. They grow at a moderate rate and are great for woods, rock gardens, containers and borders as well as ground covers. They are perennials that will eventually die if not divided frequently.

How to Grow Coral Bells (Heuchera sanguinea) From Seed

Coral bells can be started from seeds, but the results may not be as expected if you collect seeds from hybrid plants. You will get more predictable results with commercial seeds. It is best to use pure species plants for propagation rather than hybrids. It is easier to find pure species at specialty nurseries and online retailers.

Sprinkle the seed directly on the soil surface in the late fall or early winter. They need sunlight to germinate. You can also plant seeds indoors up to a few months before you intend to transplant them. It takes between two and eight weeks for coral bells seeds to germinate.

After the plants are established, you can harden them for 10 days and then transplant them outdoors once all dangers of frost have passed. Container-grown coral bells can be planted anytime after frost danger has passed. They should be kept well-watered for the first year.

General Care Guide for Coral Bells (Heuchera sanguinea)

Coral bells can be grown in semi-shady areas in well-draining soil that is organically rich. Some hybrid cultivars can thrive in full sunlight, but they will need more water. This plant is great for adding color to a landscape with many shade trees.


Coral bells, in general, do well in partial shading, particularly in hotter areas. If they are kept in full sunlight, their color may fade. Too much light can also cause them to turn brown. Coral bells that are planted in moist, shady places can become susceptible to fungal diseases. If your plants have problems, you should move them to a dry area.


Coral bells like soil rich in humus and pH between 6.0 to 7.0. It is important to have good drainage, especially in areas with shade, because the plant’s crown will rot if it sits in damp soil.


This plant requires moderate water and prefers moist soil. Although established plants can tolerate drought, they need at least one inch of water per week to stay happy. Coral bells that are grown in full sunlight should be given extra water as their shallow roots need more moisture on hot sunny days.

Temperature and Humidity

The hardiness range will vary depending on the variety and parentage. Some Heucheras can only survive in zone 7, while others are more tolerant to cold than others, but they don’t thrive south of zone 6. Coral bells generally prefer dry air. 

Coral bell crowns may rise above the soil line during winter in regions that have cold winters. Winter mulch will prevent the cycle of freezing/thawing that pushes plants up. You should inspect the roots periodically to ensure they are not exposed.


Coral bells can be fed in spring with a 1-inch layer of compost, or a small amount of slow-release fertilizer. This plant requires very little food. You should not apply quick-release fertilizers to it as they will stunt flowering. Coral bells grown in containers can benefit from water-soluble fertilizers to replenish soil nutrients. Follow the instructions on the product label to determine the correct amount.


This plant is often evergreen in warmer climates. Coral bells are susceptible to winter root heaving due to their shallow roots. This can be prevented by placing a light mulch on the plants. Overwintering in other areas is simply the removal of plant debris that prevents fungi.

Propagating Coral Bells (Heuchera sanguinea)

The most common way to propagate coral bells is by dividing root clumps. Spring or fall division can be used, but many gardeners prefer to use fall. Heuchera plants can often produce small offsets around their parent plants. It’s easy to remove these offsets and replant them. You should plant the root crowns of divisions so that they are barely covered in soil.

Heuchera plants can be very short-lived. Therefore, it is important to divide them every three or four year in order to keep them from dying. To propagate mature plants:

  1. Use a shovel to remove the whole root clump in spring or fall.
  2. Each piece should have several growth shoots. You can also discard the woody middle portion.
  3. Mix in plenty of peat moss or compost to prepare new planting areas. Then, replant the divisions just below the root crowns.

Potting and Repotting Coral Bells (Heuchera sanguinea)

It is not common to grow perennials like coral bells in containers. However, it can be done and the plant thrives when it is. You should choose a container with good drainage and a pot mix that drains easily. Keep the root crown slightly higher than the soil level when growing in containers. These plants should be placed in a protected area to protect them from the cold winter weather. You can withhold water during winter and let the plants go dormant. Coral bells are not suitable for houseplants due to their stunning foliage. They can be grown in containers outdoors, where they will get a winter dormancy, but they are not as good indoors.

Pests & Plant Diseases of Coral Bells (Heuchera sanguinea)

Although coral bells are generally a relatively easy-care plant, it can be susceptible to fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and rust.

Weevils and leaf nematodes are two potential insect problems. The black vine larvae can infiltrate coral bells’ crowns and roots in late summer and early fall, causing them to wilt or droop.9 If you are able to see them on the plants, remove them and destroy them. You can treat infected plants with mild insecticides or neem oils if they persist.

Common Problems With Coral Bells

  • Scalded LeavesCoral bells of most varieties aren’t fond of full sun exposure. They may develop scorched or burned leaves in areas with high summer heat. This can be minimized by giving plants more water in hot weather.
  • Plants Die Out After a Few Years Sometimes it can be disappointing to see a coral bells plant die suddenly. However, this is normal as they are perennials that live for only four to five years. By dividing root clumps every three to four years, you can extend the life expectancy and provide new plants for the lineage.
  • Plants Rise from the Ground Coral bells have shallow root systems and crowns that are exposed. Frost heaving in cold climates can cause them to be pushed out of the ground completely. This will mean that you need to replant them. Applying mulch just after the ground freezes can help to prevent any heaving from repeated freeze-thaw cycles.
Real Men Sow
Real Men Sow

Hello, I’m Pete and I’m currently based in the west of Scotland, in a small place called Rosneath, where I’m exploring my garden adventures. I personally started gardening around 6 years ago and initially, I started out by growing my favorite fruits and berries, such as strawberries, Raspberries & Gooseberries. Since then I’ve added a lot of vegetables and working closely with my neighbor, it’s been a lot of fun.