The Heuchera plant, also known as Coral Bells or Alum root plant, is prized for its colorful foliage. As the name suggests, the leaves are often red, but can also be deep purple to burgundy – but there are some heuchera plant problems that you should know about.
The most common of these include leaf scorch, soil heave and a few others.
In this article, we will dive into 6 of the most common heuchera plant problems and how you can tackle them.
- Coral Bells Basics
- 1. Leaf Scorch
- 2. Soil Heave
- 3. Fungal Rust Disease
- 4. Anthracnose
- 5. Vine Weevil
- 6. Watering Problems
- How to Water Heuchera
- Final Thoughts on Heuchera Problems
Coral Bells Basics
Most are hardy in zones 4-9, with some species thriving in zone 11 as well. They have bell-shaped flowers that open in the spring and bloom through late summer.
Blooms can be red, white, or pink. The flower stalk can grow to be 2 or 3 times as long as the leaf mound. The plant typically grows from 12 to 36 inches tall and 12 to 18 inches wide.
They prefer partial shade but can tolerate full sun in cooler climates. They do well in moist, well-drained soil ranging from 6.0-7.0 ph.
Heuchera is a hardy plant, but it is susceptible to some problems. These include root rot, leaf scorch, and fungal rust disease.
Let’s take a look at the 6 most common heuchera plant problems.
1. Leaf Scorch
If your Heuchera gets too much sun, leaf scorch can occur. Lighter colored species are at a higher risk of leaf scorch, which causes the leaves to turn yellow around the veins and margins.
If the problem continues, the leaves will begin to turn brown in these areas.
Treating Leaf Scorch
To treat leaf scorch, you’ll need to move the plant to a shadier area. You can also create artificial shade with an umbrella. Damaged leaves should be removed, particularly if they have turned brown. This means the leaf tissue has died.
2. Soil Heave
Soil heave can also be a problem for Coral Bells. This occurs when the ground freezes and thaws, which causes it to contract and expand. This can push the roots up out of the ground.
Treating Soil Heave
Provide insulation by adding a layer of mulch around the plant. This helps keep the temperatures from changing so extremely, which can prevent soil heave.
3. Fungal Rust Disease
Fungal rust disease is caused by Puccinia hucherae. It begins with small, sunken areas on the leaves. These areas will become rust-colored, which is where the disease gets its name. This typically occurs on the lower side of the leaves.
Eventually, rust-colored bumps or spots will occur on the upper side of the leaves. Holes will appear in these areas.
Treating Fungal Rust Disease
The first step to treating fungal rust disease is to remove infected leaves. If many leaves are affected, remove all the leaves from the plant. The new leaves should be free of rust.
If this doesn’t cure the infection, spray the infected areas with a fungicide. Bayer Fungus Fighter Plus or other fungicides that contain trifloxystrobin and tebuconazole are effective treatments.
Coral Bells plants are also susceptible to Anthracnose, another fungal disease. It can cause brown or tan leaf spots, curling leaves, and leaf drop.
It typically occurs during humid weather, particularly when the temperatures are cool. In some cases, it can persist throughout the summer months without treatment.
You can treat Anthracnose by using a fungicide with Chlorothalonil. It can also be used as a preventative measure. Prune any infected leaves or stems to prevent the disease from spreading. Carefully dispose of any infected plant matter by burning or bagging it for trash.
5. Vine Weevil
When it comes to pests, Vine Weevil is the most common problem for Heuchera. They are the most problematic as larvae. Vine weevil larvae feed on the roots of the Coral Bell plant, causing invisible damage.
The plant may become wilted. Leaves can turn brown or yellow. In some cases, you may not realize there’s a problem until your Heuchera comes out of the ground because it has no roots left.
Adult weevils will feed on the foliage of the plant at night, creating holes and notches in the leaves. They don’t typically feed on the Heuchera, likely because of the plants’ hairiness.
Eradicating Vine Weevil
There are a few ways to control vine weevil. One method is to place tape around the plant and then smear insect barrier glue. Weevils cannot cross this.
The best method of weevil control is often biological. Both Steinernema kraussei and Heterorhabditis megidis nematodes will kill weevil larvae. Chickens also love weevil larvae and adults, offering you another way to rid yourself of the pest.
In addition to ridding yourself of vine weevils, you may be able to save the plant. Be sure to remove any remaining larvae from the roots, if any are left.
Next, replant the Heuchera in a different area or repot. Water well. The plant should be able to regrow its roots and become healthy again.
6. Watering Problems
Over or under watering is perhaps the most common plant problem, and affects a wide variety of plants from Oleander to Plumeria. Both conditions cause yellow leaves. Overwatering will cause the leaves to become yellow and wilted. Underwatering will cause the leaves to become yellow and dry or papery.
In addition to yellowing leaves, overwatering can lead to root rot. Root rot is a fungus that thrives in wet conditions. The roots will become brown and mushy. These roots are no longer able to bring in nutrients from the soil.
This can cause the plant to appear underwatered, even though the soil is wet. In fact, checking the soil is the best way to determine if you have a watering problem.
If the top two inches of soil are dry, the plant is underwatered. If the soil is wet or waterlogged, you are overwatering.
How to Water Heuchera
You’ll need to water Heuchera about once a week. You should water the plant deeply. To know if it’s time to water your Coral Bells, check the soil. You should water when the first inch of soil is dry.
Adding mulch can also help keep your Heuchera hydrated. Adding a layer of mulch on top of the soil slows evaporation and holds moisture, without putting your plant’s roots at risk.
Treating Root Rot in Heuchera
If your Heuchera has developed root rot, you may be able to save it with a little effort. Remove the plant from the ground or its pot. If you find brown mushy roots, root rot is the culprit.
Remove any damaged roots, cutting off an extra inch to ensure there’s no fungus remaining. Dip the remaining roots in hydrogen peroxide to sterilize.
Replant in a new pot, or in a new area. If you plan to use the same pot, you must sterilize it with bleach. Root rot bacteria will remain in the soil or in your pot, restarting the cycle. Be sure to use new fresh soil for this reason as well.
Final Thoughts on Heuchera Problems
Coral Bells is a lovely plant to grow. It provides endless beauty, and it’s very forgiving as well. Few plants will regrow once they’ve lost their root system!
Heuchera is susceptible to a few types of fungus, including fungal rust disease and Anthracnose. Vine weevil larvae can spell disaster for the plant. However, with some care, even a damaged plant can survive and eventually thrive once again.
Over and underwatering is another pitfall to avoid. Remember to plant your Coral Bells in well-draining soil, and water when the first inch of soil is dry.