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.
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.
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.
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.
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’ 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?