Coral Bells, Alumroot
Most flowers need a considerable amount of sunlight to bloom. Therefore, adding color to shaded areas can be difficult—as choices can be somewhat limited. Heuchera is the perfect antidote to an otherwise all-green situation. In places that don’t get full sun, it can provide bold and alluring color: chartreuse, red, bronze, orange, purple, green, silver, and variegations in between.
This North American native is also one of the most resilient, drought-tolerant shade plants around. It can be left unwatered for months on end yet still produce beautiful foliage throughout the year, and it boasts an incredibly long life-expectancy of up to 20-30 years.
Historical Information and other uses:
Native American peoples used some Heuchera species medicinally. For example, Heuchera glabra was used as an herbal remedy for inflammation of the testicles caused by syphilis. The root of the Heuchera is said to make an excellent astringent to be used as a mouthwash for sore gums and throat, or taken as a tea for stomach ache or ulcer pain. It’s also a very useful astringent for diarrhea. The common name of Alumroot is in reference to the medicinal use of some species as an astringent to stop bleeding.
What can we learn from Heuchera?
1. Giving always leads to receiving.
Though rugged and long-lasting, Heuchera will almost certainly start to look bedraggled after awhile. The plant becomes woody and messy, and its growth slows down. To keep Heuchera happy and healthy, the “parent” plant must be divided up so that its offspring can become individual plants. This division and “giving away” parts of itself actually ends up rejuvenating the parent plant, especially if it is unhealthy. There is also the issue of sustainability. Some species of Heuchera are now endangered and propagating them would help to ensure their survival. Interestingly enough, life works in the same paradoxical way. When you give compassion, you open the channel to receiving it. When you give love, more shows up in your life. When you give money or material possessions, you get something back in one way or another. If you are willing to let go of what you unhealthily cling to, you may receive more or something even better—while also contributing to the greater good. Ultimately, generosity maintains abundance and keeps the world in balance.
2. Be bold when life has lost its color.
When times are dark and there’s not much light, life may lose its color. Your vitality may get dulled by expectations, constraints, and the pressure to conform. But somewhere inside you is a vibrant authenticity that wants to be expressed—a true essence of who you are and who you’re meant to become—that should be unleashed and allowed to engage the world, regardless of the perceived consequences or circumstances. Once you appreciate and celebrate your unique hue, your external world can become colorful again.
3. Don't hold onto difficult emotions.
Heuchera needs good water drainage to flourish, otherwise its roots will rot. Likewise, don’t let your emotions fester and cause you problems—feel them and allow them to flow through you.
4. Don’t give your power away.
Given Heuchera’s astringency (its ability to stop body secretions such as bleeding or diarrhea and promote wound healing), it can also teach us to stop giving away our power (mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical energy) to things that don’t do us any good. A leak or an energy drain is anything that drains your energy–even a little bit–when you think of it, or when you see it. This can be anyone or anything you think about, worry about, or obsess over. Be aware of where your focus is, and manage your attention when things become burdensome.
1. What people or things do you feel you can’t live without? Make a list of what you unhealthily cling to. Start by letting go of one thing you hold dear that drains you. Observe what changes occur as a result of you loosening your grip.