15 Companion Plants for Coral Bells (Heuchera)

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Build the shade garden of your dreams by pairing these charming perennials and shrubs with coral bells!

Coral bells (Heuchera) are shade garden favorites known for their low-maintenance nature and signature colorful foliage that grows low to the ground. From deep purples and rich reds to bright greens and vibrant oranges, a coral bell variety complements nearly any garden. But it’s not just about the foliage: tall flower spikes emerge midway through spring that look amazing between other perennials in cut-flower arrangements. Just be sure to leave some for the hummingbirds! It’s easy to love coral bells, and they make a lovely companion plant in a variety of landscape settings.

Here, we’ll list some of our favorite perennials and shrubs for shade to plant with your coral bells. We’ll also share some unique ways you can use these plants and just what makes them a perfect pairing in any shade garden.

Green, orange, and purple coral bells & Siberian bugloss in a shade garden

How To Grow Coral Bells (Heuchera)

Soil: Coral bells like well-drained soils that are rich in organic matter that is slightly acidic.

Light: Coral bells generally do best in the shade, but for the brightly colored varieties, some morning sun ensures the best color development. The color can wash out in full sun, and too much heat and light can cause the leaves to scorch.

Water: Heuchera needs average water. It’s better to keep it on the dry side rather than the overly wet side. Keep the soil evenly moist but not consistently wet to prevent diseases like root rot.

Fertilizing: To fertilize your coral bells, spread a layer of compost or rotted manure in early spring. Mulch is a good idea, but keep it from mounding on the crown (center) of the plant. Heuchera does not require fertilization during the fall or winter months.

Winterizing: Winter mulching will prevent the freezing and thawing that can heave plants roots. Heucheras are somewhat evergreen and should be left in place for winter. The old foliage typically lies flat and gets covered by the new growth, after which it slowly dies away, but you may remove it in early spring if you wish.

Maintenance & Pruning: Coral bells require little maintenance, but you can cut back the entire flower stalk after flowering to use the plant’s energy to grow more leaves. Take the cuttings and add them to a cut flower arrangement!

Plants To Pair With Coral Bells

Bright pink astilbe flowers with white flowers in the foreground

Astilbe

We adore how the large fluffy plumes from astilbe contrast the tall, delicate flowers from coral bells and add texture to the shade garden.  Both coral bells and astilbe thrive in evenly moist, well-drained soil, making their maintenance routine fairly similar throughout the gardening season.

Large pink rhododendron shrub in a garden hedge

Rhododendron

Looking for a statement shrub to pair with your coral bells in a garden hedge? Rhododendron shines, even in shaded gardens! The large flower heads and tall habit make it an excellent specimen plant, and coral bells pair well underplanted around this shrub.

Crested Surf Japanese Fern with sage-green and white leaflets and purple stems

Japanese Painted Fern

The elegant arching habit and distinctive gray leaves of Japanese painted fern complement coral bells beautifully in the shade garden. Both perennials thrive in rich, well-drained soil and foliage, staying strong from spring through fall.

Close up image of a small hosta in a shade garden

Hosta

Hosta and coral bells are some of the most perfectly paired perennials! They are bright and bold late spring through fall, requiring nearly the same soil and light requirements to grow. Trust us, pairing these two will be one of the lowest-maintenance plant choices you can make in your garden!

Close up of 'Gold Heart' Bleeding Heart with pink heart shaped blooms

Bleeding Heart

Bleeding heart (Dicentra) is a charming addition to your shade garden. Its unique heart-shaped flowers bloom in early spring and add an eclectic feel to your landscape. After blooming, the foliage contrasts beautifully with coral bell flowers that begin blooming late spring.

'Chantilly Lace' Goatsbeard

Goatsbeard

Goatsbeard is a native perennial that pairs beautifully with coral bells in shady areas. The ethereal, feather-like flowers attract butterflies, bees, and birds, making it a perfect fit for pollinator gardens to the tall flowers from coral bells.

Pink and blue lungwort flowers in a shade garden

Lungwort

If you want to add some early bloomers to extend your gardening season, look no further than lungwort! In addition to pairing well with coral bells, you can plant this perennial in a shady spot alongside hostas, hellebores, or astilbe for a dynamic shade landscape.

Fizzy Mizzy™ Sweetspire white flower spikes

Sweetspire

Sweetspire (Itea) is a native shrub and a shade garden favorite with sweet flower spikes that attract pollinators. The green leaves transition to deep red, purple, and orange hues during fall, complementing your coral bells foliage, which may brighten when temperatures begin to cool.

White gardenia flowers in a shade garden

Gardenia

Is your shade garden lacking fragrance? Gardenia offers gorgeous, highly scented flowers with a strong, sweet, floral aroma. Try planting it as a specimen near coral bells in a garden hedge or making it the star of the show in a container.

Circle boxwood in a garden hedge

Boxwood

Are you looking to add some symmetry to your formal shade garden? Boxwood is an evergreen shrub that can handle trimming to nearly any shape, though it grows in a uniform habit. Use boxwood to line along a shady pathway and underplant coral bells for a pop of color and contrasting foliage.

creeping jenny planted in a patio container

Creeping Jenny

It’s no secret that coral bells can complement patios in porches when planted in containers. When you add creeping jenny to your container, you’ll add chartreuse cup-shaped flowers surrounding your coral bells and begin cascading outside the pot in the most whimsical way!

Close up of the delicate blue flowers that rise above the heart-shaped leaves of the 'Jack Frost' Siberian Bugloss

Siberian Bugloss

Siberian bugloss, or Brunnera, are reliable and hardy shade perennials with silver foliage. Sprays of forget-me-not-like flowers rise above its low-mounding foliage in spring, which can be enjoyed alongside coral bells, lungwort, or other spring bloomers.

Grass planted in a rocky shade garden

Sedge

If you could use an ornamental grass to tuck between empty garden spots and look good while doing so, sedge (Carex) should undoubtedly do the trick. This perennial grass is easy to maintain, winter-hardy, and great for beginner gardeners, just like coral bells! 

Black Scallop Bugleweed with blue flower blooms in summer.

Bugleweed

Bugleweed (Ajuga) is a foolproof flowering perennial ground cover that thrives in the shade. It can be used as a lawn substitute or spread between stepping stones. Plus, it also quickly suppresses weeds on slopes, beneath trees, or in small spaces.

Cutting Edge foamflower blooms in the garden.

Foamflower

Foamflower (Tiarella) is a native perennial staple in woodland gardens. While the foliage of these two shade perennials may look similar, the key difference is in the flowers. Foamflower features showy flower spires that appear fluffy or “foamy,” lending to its name.

Written by: Lindsey Griffith, click here to read bio.

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