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Heuchera Hercules, a Painterly Perennial

Over the past few years there has been an explosive growth in the number of new varieties of Heuchera. I can’t imagine that the hybridizing that produces this never-ending assortment is going to end soon. We are hooked on the melodrama: What will next year’s Heuchera selections look like? How are they going to top this year’s? Don’t worry! They will top it and we will all be amazed once again.

For that reason, I draw your attention to a delightful but unnoticed Heuchera cultivar called “Hercules”. What set this plant apart from all of the other richly colored varieties are its white leaves splashed with green. Not just any ordinary green but green that has been mottled and water-colored with pools, puddles and marbling to create a perennial that shimmers in the shade.

The moment I laid eyes on it at a nursery, I knew I was on to something special. After planting it in a client's shade garden, I was so taken by the visual effect it created that I returned to the nursery to buy more. Clearly, other gardeners must have had the same reaction because this was the only variety of Heuchera to have sold out. I resorted to purchasing additional stock, on line, from a friendly Canadian grower called Floral and Hardy in Mapleton, Ontario.

This cultivar will tolerate sun, shade and part shade but cannot tolerate drought or a winter without the insulation of snow. Sometimes, Heuchera foliage gets weather-beaten over the winter. For a clean look, trim damaged leaves in early spring to encourage new growth of vibrant foliage.

Hercules grows in zones 4 to 9 and reaches a height of 10 to 15 inches and a width of 14 to 16 inches. Its deep scarlet red flowers, intense and beautiful, bloom in late spring to early summer. However, most new cultivars of Heuchera are not grown for their flowers. In the case of “Hercules”, gardeners choose this plant for the vibrancy and hypnotic effect of its leaves. To create an eye-catching shade composition in green and white, place this perennial near any other plant with solid green leaves and watch the drama unfold.


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