Monday, February 7, 2011

Heuchera With Yellow and Orange Tones

I'm finally getting around to finishing up the Heuchera posts.  (for now)  We finally get to the plants that started Heuchera's rise to stardom.  It all started back in 2002ish with a sport of 'Whirlwind' called 'Amber Waves'.  (I don't remember the first year it was available- The Heims/Ware book gives it the year 2000 but that seems early to me- the patent was granted in 2002)  This amber colored beauty with ruffled and lobed foliage and nice pink flowers wasn't an immediate sellout the first year, but as word spread it moved well.  The second year, it sold out quite quickly.  The 3rd year it continued with strong sales, but there were complaints about it not being hardy.  I of course had planted one the first year.  It was perfectly hardy, however there indeed were problems.  For one it frost-heaved out of the ground every winter for 3 years regardless of how well I winter mulched.  It didn't bulk up in my garden well, staying only about 8" across the whole time it was planted.  I pulled it out, literally- I grabbed the plant and it popped out roots and all, in 2006 (long after we dropped this from our lineup).  I think the foliage texture is unmatched by any other amber Heuchera, but its poor garden performance really knocks this one down on the desirability scale.  Micrantha and americana are in the background, and as this is the source of all other amber and chartreuse varieties, they also have them in the background.

Improvements happen, and in the world of Heuchera they can happen quickly.  2004 brought 'Marmalade', a more vigorous plant slightly darker amber foliage than 'Amber Waves'.  This one was a much better grower, though I still had problems with it losing vigor after a couple of years.  Still, with the right site and soil conditions this one can prosper.

2004 also brought the first chartreuse Heuchera to market- 'Lime Rickey'.  This plant had nice vigor and small leaves on a dense clump.  This thing looks like a head of lettuce (in a good way).  Bright chartreuse foliage in spring turning to lime green in summer.  White flowers are nice enough, but not exciting.  I had fewer vigor issues with this one. 

2005 brought 'Creme Brulee' to the Proven Winners line, and this one was (to me) the best so far.  It had good texture and a compact form.  The flowers weren't very exciting, but who's looking at them anyway at this point- we still haven't recovered from seeing an orange heuchera!  Another breakthrough was that this one tolerated sun.  Lots of it if it didn't dry out.  We included this in our full sun butterfly garden.  Still after a few years of growing it, we found that it has the same loss of vigor issues as 'Amber Waves' and 'Marmalade'.

I had been growing H. villosa 'Autumn Bride' for a few years at this point, and it was turning out to be a great performer in heavy soils and hot humid temperatures.  Many people growing this plant realized the breakthrough that was Heuchera 'Caramel' when it hit the market in 2005.  This H. villosa hybrid (probably with 'Amber Waves' as the other parent) came to us from France.  Finally an amber Heuchera that would perform!  My clump is now somewhere between 24 and 30 inches wide.  This one is also tolerant of full sun, and needs at least some sun to show its best color.  In shade it is a sickly yellowish color.  This has become my biggest selling variety to date, far exceeding 'Palace Purple'.  Bad economy or not we still sell nearly 100 of these every year.

'Caramel'
2006 brought even more- 'Peach Flambe', which is one of the best non-villosa hybrids.  Bright foliage on a strong clump with H. sanguinea background.  'Peach Melba' is another Proven Winners plant, this one with a silverish veil over the amber foliage.  'Key Lime Pie' is also from PW, and features chartreuse-lime foliage and nice pink flowers. 

From 2007 on I've lost track as so many have now come out.  Here's a list of more, years included where possible:


'Citronelle' hit in 2007ish and is a chartreuse mutation of 'Caramel'.  It isn't as strong a grower, but it still performs well.  'Georgia Peach' is a unique color of amber tones with some red and a silver overlay.  Villosa hybrid that grows well but isn't as dense as other varieties. 

'Christa' I haven't grown, but is another villosa hybrid similar to 'Caramel'.  Looks to have somewhat better color.

'Ginger Ale' 2008ish.  A nice ginger color to the foliage with a silver overlay and yellowish flowers.  Micrantha, americana, and cylindrica are in the background of this one.  Has performed fairly well.

'Ginger Peach' I haven't grown.  Out of 'Marmalade' breeding, 2010 intro.

'Lime Marmalade' is a chartreuse sport of 'Marmalade'. 

'Kassandra' is another amber villosa hybrid from France that I have not grown.  Foliage is more lobed and less rounded than 'Caramel.

'Tiramisu' & 'Miracle' showed a lot of promise for having chartreuse foliage with red veins.  Plants don't always meet the expectations of the hype and pictures however.  The red viens were only present in cool weather, so most of the summer they were chartreuse.  Muddy chartreuse in the case of 'Miracle'.  'Tiramisu' was a poor grower for me, and is currently the only villosa hybrid I've killed.  'Miracle' grew well enough, but I don't like the color and removed it. 

'Electra' came out in late 2009 and was widely available in 2010.  This one lived up to the promise of pictures and hype and is everything that 'Tiramisu' wasn't.  Red veins are present year round, with the exception of maybe spring as the new foliage fills out, at which point mine was eye-hurtingly bright chartreuse.  Villosa hybrid.
'Electra' in spring before the veins turn red.
'Electic Lime' is a chartreuse villosa hybrid that also came out in 2009.  This one is a villosa hybrid similar to 'Citronelle' but I believe it will be bigger in all aspects. 

'Southern Comfort' hit the market in 2009 and is villosa hybrid similar to 'Caramel' but has bigger leaves and will get taller.  It also has better color in the shade.  Turns burgundy in fall and winter.

'Tara' is a very lobed villosa hybrid with chartreuse foliage and some red tones in the center.  I have not grown this one, but like the looks of it.

'Midas Touch' was a 2010 release.  I saw it at some trade shows and like the look of it.  New growth is bright peach and matures to gold and finally the same ginger color as 'Ginger Ale'.

'Havana' excited me quite a bit as being the first chartreuse Heuchera with rose-red flowers.  The foliage has some silver overlay and can get some red veining in fall.  It was however quite a slow mover.  Also a bit of a slow grower and took quite a long time to bloom.  We'll see how it performs in the garden.  A 2010 introduction with micrantha, americana, sanguinea, and cylindrica in the background.

My sad 'Havana' in November.  I will be moving it to a better site in spring.
'Peach Crisp' is a 2010 intro with ruffled and lobed amber foliage.  Looks very good, full sun for best color.

'Pear Crisp' is new for 2011 and is the chartreuse counterpart to 'Peach Crisp'.  Like all chartreuse variaties, will probably scorch with too much sun.

I didn't get a lot of pictures for this post.  2 great online resources for images:
http://www.lucsperennialworld.com/heuchera/index.html
http://www.terranovanurseries.com/gardeners/heuchera-c-82_23.html

2 comments:

  1. I think I only have 'Marmalade' in my garden currently...but it performed surprisingly well in it's part sun location last year. Unfortunately, it did scald slightly during the hottest/driest part of our summer, so I'm moving it to a site with some dapple shade...it really popped back during the fall, however and has looked great all winter. I'm totally enamored of 'Lime Rickey' for some reason and am definitely adding it to my shopping list for this spring.

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  2. The non-villosa hybrids should perform much better in OR than they do here in WI, so those should both do well for you. My Heucheras probably look great too, but they're under 3' of snow. ;)

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