Grooming Native Heuchera

Today I am grooming native Heuchera villosa, the hairy alumroot, an Alabama wildflower. An outstanding ground cover for shade, this perennial is semi-evergreen, and comes in many color variations. Most of mine are seedlings from a mixed flat I got from the outstanding wildflower authority, Jan Midgley.

Foliage colors range from mid-green, to chartreuse, to bronze, to burgundy. I like them all. Today I am removing sunburned and damaged leaves. Several clumps appear loose in the soil, and on closer examination, the woody base of the clump has lifted. A number of those clumps are wilted.

grooming heuchera villosa

Trimming roots and stems of older Heuchera villosa plants to make divisions

Here is what I do: I lift the entire clump and divide the stems, discarding the stems that are soft and shriveled. I then trim the root end of each stem to about 2 inches, trim off all the leaves on that stem, and set it aside. I do this until I have processed the entire clump. I may have 20 or 30 pieces to replant directly in the garden, or I may pot these pieces up in potting soil and grow them out in shade to replant this fall. Believe me when I say, “It’s worth the trouble.” I like to salvage those older plants by division.

This is another Alabama wildflower that rewards you with seedlings. The rather inconspicuous flowers produce many tiny seeds which germinate in my gravel paving. I prick out these seedlings to share with visitors or use them to fill empty space in shade.

Mike Rushing

Mike and Paula Rushing have been gardening in St. Clair county since 1990, and In Forest Park since 2007. A Jefferson County Master Gardener and course instructor at Master Gardening classes, Mike also volunteers weekly at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

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