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Virtues: Spicy Lime foamy bells, or heucherella, is a bright-leaved addition to the shade garden. With its tightly mounded habit and 12-inch height, it makes a good accent plant or edging. Because its main draw is its lime-green leaves, it provides color throughout the growing season.
Common name: Spicy Lime foamy bells, Spicy Lime heucherella
Botanical name: Heucherella x'Spicy Lime'
Exposure: Part sun or part shade (What's the difference? Find out here.)
Flowers: Tiny white flowers appear at the top of thin stems in late spring to early summer. The flower stems rise above the foliage.
Foliage: The leaves are the key draw of this shade-friendly perennial. Leaves are a bright lime-green with reddish-purple margins and splotches at the center. They resemble maple leaves in shape.
Habit: Spicy Lime foamy bells grows as a mounded dome of foliage about 12 inches tall and wide. The leaves and flowering stems emerge from a central crown at soil level.
Origin: Heucherella plants are crosses between species of the genus Tiarella and the genus Heuchera. These parents are woodland plants native to various parts of North America. Heucherella combine desirable traits of the two genera. Heucherellas have leaves with the deep lobes and reddish central splotch of tiarellas. The foliage color range is wide thanks to the heuchera parentage. Using Southeast-native Heuchera villosa in breeding has created Heucherellas with tolerance of heat and humidity. Heucherellas are sterile, so their flowering lasts longer than that of the parents; however the foliage is the main reason for planting them.
How to grow it: Site Spicy Lime heucherella where it will receive 4 to 6 hours of shade. In Southern gardens, a spot that is shaded in the afternoon is best. Soil should be freely draining. Provide consistent watering through the plant's first season in the garden. Once it is established, it can take moderate dry spells. In fact, erring on the drier side is best with heucherellas and their parents.
When you're planting heucherella, it's important to position it in the planting hole so that the crown of the plant will remain just above soil level once you've backfilled. If you bury the plant's crown, it will rot. Similarly, take care not to cover the crown with mulch.
Heucherellas generally do not need fertilizer. Spicy Lime will be evergreen in the warmer reaches of its growing range; in colder zone it will die back over the winter. In any region, trim off tattered or faded old leaves in early spring to make room for new growth. USDA Zones 4–9.
Recommended related reading:
Making the Most of Shade by Larry Hodgson
The New Shade Garden by Ken Druse
Gardening with Foliage First by Karen Chapman and Christina Salwitz