Heuchera villosa
Common Name: hairy alum root
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Saxifragaceae
Native Range: Southeastern United States
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 1.50 to 2.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to September
Bloom Description: White to pink
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy

Culture

Best grown in organically rich, humusy, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Performs well in full sun in the north, but prefers some shade (particularly in the heat of the afternoon) in the south. In the St. Louis area, best foliage color may occur in sunny spots with part afternoon shade. This species has good drought tolerance and seems to do better in hot and humid summers than most heucheras, though some scorch and general foliage decline may occur if soils are allowed to totally dry out. If grown in full sun, consistent moisture is particularly important. Remove stems of faded flowers to encourage additional bloom. Foliage is essentially evergreen in warm winter climates, but the amount of retained foliage color in cold winter climates such as St. Louis depends in large part upon the severity of the temperatures. In cold winter climates, a winter mulch applied after the ground freezes will help prevent root heaving. Divide clumps in spring every 3-4 years.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Heuchera villosa, sometimes commonly called hairy alum root, is a species of coral bells that is native to rocky wooded slopes from Virginia to Georgia and Tennessee. It is primarily noted for its (1) large, hairy, triangularly-lobed (7-9 lobes), sharply-toothed, green leaves (to 5” across) that have a velvety texture, (2) hairy, rusty-brown flowering stems and leaf stalks and (3) mid to late summer flowering (probably the latest in the genus). Leaves typically form a rounded basal clump to 18-24” tall and as wide. Tiny, whitish to pinkish flowers (to 1/4” wide) borne in open, airy panicles appear in late summer on slender, wiry stems rising above the foliage mound to 36” tall.

Genus name honors Johann Heinrich von Heucher (1677-1747), physician, botanist and medicinal plant expert at Wittenberg University, Germany.

Specific epithet means covered with soft hairs.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Frost heaving of roots when winter temperatures fluctuate widely is less likely to occur with this species than with many other heucheras.

Garden Uses

This is a shade tolerant heuchera that may be grown in rock gardens, borders, open woodland gardens, rocky slopes or native plant areas. It is best planted in groups or massed.