Northern Shade Gardening

Heuchera ‘Mint Frost’ with Colourful Foliage

Tuesday, July 14, 2009 Category: Perennials
Heuchera mint frost (coral bells) spring colours

Heuchera mint frost (coral bells) spring colours

Heuchera ‘Mint Frost’ (coral bells) is a wonderful foliage plant, with lovely mint green and silver leaves in the summer, and multicoloured leaves in the spring and fall. It is hardy in zone 3 and tolerant of shade.

In the fall, the green and silver leaves turn earthy shades of orange, marmalade and peach. These leaves persist from fall, under the snow. As they are uncovered in spring, the colourful leaves are revealed, preserved in good shape.

As the weather warmed, new leaves emerged. The tiny unfolding leaves are  a bright pinkish red. In May, the plants had an amazing number of leaf colours. The old orange leaves were still evident at the edges of the plant. In the middle were mint green and silver leaves, as well as polished silver leaves with dark veins. In the centre the bright red miniature leaves appeared. The combination of so many shades on one plant is intriguing. By summer, the plants  settle down to their more sedate fresh silvery green shade, with dark green markings running along the veins.

Heuchera handle shade very well. These plants thrive in my garden in a couple  hours of direct sun a day. They also handled the less than -35 C (-31 F) temperatures of zone 3 very well. I’ve found these to be hardy, with all of the plants returning after a cold winter. They were covered in fallen leaves, which may have helped keep them so fresh. When most perennial foliage has died back in late fall, the Heuchera are still providing interest. After keeping their foliage through winter, the leaves appear extra early in the spring, providing early season interest too.

Heuchera mint frost (coral bells) April 18 colours

Heuchera mint frost (coral bells) April 18 colours

Here are two of the ‘Mint Frost’ plants back on April 18, when very few perennials were showing green around here. To have full sized green plants in the garden, while most perennials were still underground was a real treat.

Heuchera 'Mint Frost' colour variation 1

Heuchera ‘Mint Frost’ colour variation 1

The above picture was taken on a rainy day in May, and shows how attractive the foliage looks as water pools up on the leaves. Heuchera is extremely attractive when wet, glossy with little ponds in the dimples. The above photo shows the combination of colours the foliage can have when there is some frost.

Heuchera 'Mint Frost' closeup of flowers

Heuchera ‘Mint Frost’ closeup of flowers

Here are the flowers of ‘Mint Frost’ in July. The tall flower stems set these flowers well above the pretty leaves. Although the wands are about a metre or more (3 to 4 feet) tall, they do not get very large around. The flower stems are almost all straight, despite the curve in the picture. The spikes of dark rose pink flowers are very slender, and look like buds that never open. I think the flowers look best in front of greenery, like the ostrich fern behind. I wouldn’t get the plants for the flowers alone, but neither would I cut the flower stalks off. This Heuchera plant is mostly for the foliage.

Heuchera 'Mint Frost' with flower stalks

Heuchera ‘Mint Frost’ with flower stalks

Here is part of a group of Heuchera ‘Mint Frost’ in front of some Matteuccia struthiopteris (ostrich ferns). You can see the leaves are definitely minty green with a dark green pattern in July, and you can see how narrow the flower stalks are.

Heuchera 'Mint Frost' (coral bells) late summer colours

Heuchera ‘Mint Frost’ (coral bells) late summer colours

Heuchera ‘Mint Frost’ is a very hardy shade perennial. Its silver and apple green colours coordinate well with many other shade plants in the garden, and look nice next to blue flowers. The colour changes in fall and spring make it an even more interesting plant. There is such a multitude of colour variations now in Heuchera. There are lots of Heuchera with great foliage. Here is some information about Heuchera ‘Plum Pudding’, with purple foliage. Two newer Heuchera have attractive flowers and similar foliage to ‘Mint Frost’.

Do you have a favourite coral bell, and have you found them hardy?

16 Responses to “Heuchera ‘Mint Frost’ with Colourful Foliage” »

  1. keewee :
    July 14, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    I love Heuchera and have been considering buying some. The reason I am hesitant in buying right now, is that I not sure if rabbits will eat them. They would make expensive rabbit food.

  2. Northern Shade :
    July 14, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    Keewee, I rarely have rabbits around here, so I haven’t had a chance to test it for rabbit resistance. They make a very attractive edging plant in the shade or part shade. Nowadays there is a Heuchera leaf shade for just about any colour scheme.

  3. Gail :
    July 15, 2009 at 6:54 am

    Heucheras are turning into the perfect plant for almost any garden….aren’t we lucky. Occasionally rabbits visit here but they seem content to eat grass. gail

  4. Northern Shade :
    July 15, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Gail, how lucky you are to have your own lawnmower crew. “Keep munching guys; I’m having a garden party this afternoon, and Flopsy, keep those grass blades even.” : )

    I really like the long season of foliage on Heuchera. My garden was very bare in April, and the Heuchera, along with Helleborus and a few others started the colour show, while everything else was still twigs and dead leaves.

  5. Joanne :
    July 15, 2009 at 11:08 am

    I love heuchera but I think they get a bit dry during the summer and I have difficulty keeping them going.

  6. Northern Shade :
    July 15, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Joanne, that’s unfortunate that they dry out for you. The Heuchera have been very hardy in my garden so far. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the Heuchera kept their foliage under the snow in extreme cold, with only the leaf cover. The early colourful leaves were a boost to the early spring garden.

  7. The Garden Ms. S :
    July 15, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    That is a gorgeous Heuchera. I had a variety of them in my first garden and found, like you, that they overwintered beautifully. The flowers aren’t the stars of the plant but they really do add something and I always enjoy them.

    I hope to post on my new Heuchera/fern combo in the next few days. You will have to let me know what you think! :)

  8. Northern Shade :
    July 15, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    The Garden Ms. S, it was fun to watch the flower stalks get longer and longer, some taller than the ostrich ferns. The flowers were a bit of a bonus to the plant.

    I look forward to seeing how your combination turns out. I remember you had one of the silvery purple Heuchera.

  9. Shady Gardener :
    July 15, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Hi Northern Shade! What a nice informative post on this Heuchera. It’s easy to understand why you’ve enjoyed it! I like knowing you are in Zone 3. I always think that if I purchase plants intended for Zone 3 (and 4) that I’ll be just fine! :-) Thanks for creating such a complete post. My favorite Heuchera? Well, I did purchase a couple of really pretty ones this Spring. I’ll have to give them until next year to see how they perform throughout all the seasons! I think Palace Purple is a stand-out for dependability and adaptability in a variety of settings.

  10. Northern Shade :
    July 15, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    Shady Gardener, there are so many new Heuchera on the market now, so I wondered which ones gardeners found most reliable. I’ve been very happy with the performance and looks of ‘Mint Frost’. I will look forward to reading how your new Heuchera do over the year, and what you think of them.

  11. MNGarden :
    July 17, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Heucheras are my new favorite plant.

  12. Northern Shade :
    July 17, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    MNGarden, I’ve become a fan of them too, since the decorative leaves make a good show in the garden. The leaves are on display for a much longer time in my garden than many other plants too, so they extend the garden season in spring and fall.

  13. Elinor Siesel :
    August 16, 2010 at 1:47 am

    This is my first trip thru your site – and I’m just loving it! I asked Google what to use for underplanting with hydrangeas. And there you were with all the info I could use and more. Now I’m looking for plantings for my shade area. It’s almost 1 a.m. and I’m beginning to run out of steam. Will go back to the home page and see about subscribing. Nite to you and will see you again very soon. –Elinor

  14. Northern Shade :
    August 16, 2010 at 7:15 am

    Elinor, thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you found some useful info. It’s always fun to see what other gardeners are planting and get ideas for combinations.

  15. dennis :
    September 13, 2010 at 6:41 am

    The combination of Heuchera and Ostrich fern is fantastic

  16. Northern Shade :
    September 13, 2010 at 7:58 am

    Dennis, the tall fern fronds make a good background for showing up the smaller flowers of this Heuchera. ‘Mint Frost’ is starting to develop some of its fall colour in September now, as our nights get cooler. The green leaves are getting more pronounced purple and red veins.

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