Tiarella and Heuchera under Spruce

I’ve become very enthusiastic about Heuchera and Tiarella, for their terrific foliage, and ability to grow under the trees. I’ve been extending the garden under my large spruce trees, digging out more lawn and planting shade perennials with evergreen leaves. Some of the new plants are Heuchera ‘Raspberry Ice’, Tiarella ‘Jeepers Creepers’ and Tiarella ‘Sugar and Spice’. These are all shade tolerant, and they will look great until covered up with snow. The Tiarella have very pretty flowers, and I’ve been adding some Heuchera that have showier blooms, too.

Tiarella 'Jeepers Creepers'
Tiarella ‘Jeepers Creepers’

Tiarella ‘Jeepers Creepers’ (foamflower) is supposed to be midway between a clumping form and a running form. These perennials are so attractive, that I wouldn’t mind if they spread more like a running type. You can see in the picture above that the leaves have a nice glossy look. The plants have been extremely healthy looking so far. I’ll let you know next year how they grow and overwinter in zone 3.

Tiarella 'Jeepers Creepers' hairy leaf
Tiarella ‘Jeepers Creepers’ hairy leaf

Tiarella ‘Jeepers Creepers’ has shiny, green leaves with dark centres radiating out along the lobes from the middle. The foliage is very fresh looking and attractive. The leaves have small white hairs when you look at them close up. You can click the photo above to see how hairy they really are.

Tiarella 'Jeepers Creepers' flower
Tiarella ‘Jeepers Creepers’ flower

One ‘Jeepers Creepers’ plant has a single flower still on it, since it was planted this month. It should be covered in these white spikes next year. I was very impressed with the length of the flowering time of Tiarella ‘Pink Skyrocket’, so I’m looking forward to seeing how long these ones bloom next year. You can see more photos of these Tiarella, and read about how beautifully they are doing in this followup article. Another Tiarella with light green leaves like Jeepers Creepers is ‘Neon Lights’.

Heuchera 'Raspberry Ice' 3 plants
Heuchera ‘Raspberry Ice’ 3 plants

Heuchera ‘Raspberry Ice’ (coral bells) has outstanding silvery purple leaves that look dramatic in the shade garden. There are three plants in the group above, already making a nice sized clump. The silver colour is reflecting the light underneath the spruce, so they show up well. I have a group of these in my backyard too, where they have no problems with the shade.

Heuchera 'Raspberry Ice' pink flower
Heuchera ‘Raspberry Ice’ pink flower

These new ‘Raspberry Ice’ are out of synch with the seasons, so they have a single pink flower on them still. You can see how pretty the dark pink bloom looks, especially against the silvery background.

Heuchera 'Raspberry Ice' silver purple leaves
Heuchera ‘Raspberry Ice’ silver purple leaves

Some Heuchera have gorgeous leaves, but insignificant flowers. The winning combination of fantastic foliage and showy flowers make Heuchera ‘Raspberry Ice’ a great garden plant. I have two other Heuchera that combine great foliage with pretty flowers.

Tiarella 'Sugar and Spice' green and purple leaves
Tiarella ‘Sugar and Spice’ green and purple leaves

Tiarella ‘Sugar and Spice’ (foamflower) has foliage very similar to ‘Jeepers Creepers’, green lobes with darker purple  centres. The colour contrast makes the perennials a little bolder looking and pleasing in the garden. They can be placed next to green leafed plants to add a little pizazz, or make a bridge between plants with purple leaves and those with green foliage, coordinating them together.

Tiarella 'Sugar and Spice' foliage
Tiarella ‘Sugar and Spice’ foliage

I also have  some ‘Sugar and Spice in my back garden, and the foliage is glossy, reflecting extra light. This makes them valuable in the shade, where they brighten the shadowy areas. Plus, the shiny leaves are a joy to look at, even when there are no flowers out.

Tiarella 'Sugar and Spice' flower
Tiarella ‘Sugar and Spice’ flower

The flowers of Tiarella  ‘Sugar and Spice’ are white, but they emerge from pink buds, so they have a light pink appearance from a distance, but they are not as dark pink looking as ‘Pink Skyrocket’.

Heuchera and Tiarella under spruce
Heuchera and Tiarella under spruce

The picture above has ‘Raspberry Ice’ at the front and ‘Jeepers Creeper’ behind. Next spring I’ll know more about how these survive a zone 3 winter, but I anticipate them doing fine. My other Heuchera have been very hardy, preserving most of their leaves under the snow for an early spring display. We generally get reliable snow cover, which helps save the evergreen leaves from the bitter cold. You can see in the photo above that they are entirely unaffected by our first frosts. These are great plants for shade gardening in a cold climate.

Heuchera and Tiarella under evergreens
Heuchera and Tiarella under evergreens

As many perennials have turned brown in Autumn, disappearing for the winter, those with evergreen or semi-evergreen leaves provide texture, colour and garden interest. In zone 3, the dieing back can start early, leaving the garden looking bare. However, perennials like Heuchera, Heucherella, Tiarella, Asarum (ginger), Helleborus (hellebore), some Campanula (bellflowers) and some Pulmonaria (lungwort) lengthen the gardening season with their evergreen foliage, until finally covered with snow. Then in spring as the melting snow reveals bare earth in most of the  garden, these perennials are showing colourful foliage for a quick start to your shade garden. In a short growing season, this trait is especially appealing.

Tiarella 'Jeepers Creepers' great leaves
Tiarella ‘Jeepers Creepers’ great leaves

You can read and see more about some some other Heuchera and Tiarella I grow in theses posts, Heuchera foliage in fall, Tiarella ‘Pink Skyrocket, Heuchera ‘Cinnabar Silver’, Heuchera ‘Plum Pudding’, and Heuchera ‘Mint Frost’.

20 thoughts on “Tiarella and Heuchera under Spruce”

  1. I am amazed that we can grow some of the same plants. Here, of course, it’s a question of plants surviving the summer, rather than the winter. I have been planning to plant tiarella in my garden for several years. I almost did it, this year, but the plants I found at my local nursery were too pricey for me at the time. But every time I see them in another garden, I want them! Your photos have reinforced my desire.

    1. Debsgarden, I’m going to cover the Tiarella with fall leaves to add some protection for the winter. I’ll see next spring how they do here, but I think they should be fine. I manged to find a number at 50% to 70% off this fall, so I planted them in different garden beds, and extended the front garden. When I was looking at the pictures, I wished that I had put more in.

  2. A very informative post. I like your Heucheras and Heucherellas very much. In my garden you can find them. Some red-leaved Heucheras thrive very well in full sun.
    Have a nice day
    Anne majorahn

    1. Anne, I’ve been adding many of these to my garden all season, and now that our first snow has arrived, I’m glad that I have some plants which will still look good after it melts. At least I hope that this melts. I’m particularly fond of these perennials where the second colour follows along the veins of the leaves.

      Marit, can you tell which plants are my latest craze? ;) I love the rose pink colour of the ‘Raspberry Ice’ flower, and they are large enough to be very showy, unlike some of the Heuchera.

      I really like the markings on the Tiarella, and some of the recent cultivars seem to be long blooming or reblooming. I’ll keep track next year to see how long they flower.

  3. How many heuchera do you really have? :) The flowers on ‘Rasberry Ice’ was wonderful!

    I bought this summer a Tiarella who is very similar to your ‘Sugar and Spice’ and ‘Jeepers Creepers’. But mine did not have a name, so I hope maybe it is one of the names that you have here.

  4. That was a wonderful post NS on how pretty heucherella and tiarella plus all the other members of those families are .. and my one and only pulmonaria Moonshine has held its foliage and colour even through our dry periods in its first year here : ) I love the look of Sugar & Spice and Jeepers Creepers so you have me listing them for 2011 ! LOL
    Having some great choices for under trees like this is a wonderful treat !
    PS Raspberry Ice leaves look similar to my Frosted Violet too : )

    1. Joy, the Heuchera and Tiarella are my latest obsession. They look superb, even when there are no flowers on them. We just got a snowfall overnight, so many leaves will be folding away, but these should look great for a while. The Tiarella I’ve had since earlier in the season have kept their leaves wonderfully fresh, too.

  5. I’ve become a big fan of Heucheras and Tiarellas, too, in the last few years, and add a few more to my garden each year. I love the blooms on ‘Raspberry Ice’–I’ll have to look for that one…though I’m not sure where I’d find room to put it:) They’re amazing plants, keeping their foliage for such a long time during the winter, but I don’t think they like heat; I may have lost two during our extremely hot and dry summer.

    1. Rose, I put some of mine in my current garden beds, moved a few plants around, and then dug out more lawn to make them all fit. :) I’ve been gradually removing the grass around my spruce and pine and weaving the garden between them. I’m looking forward to seeing the ‘Raspberry Ice’ in full bloom next year.

  6. You have a great collection of these two species NS. Tiarella is supposed to be good for dry shade too, isn’t it? I don’t know why I don’t have any since I have some areas that fit that bill. I hope they overwinter well for you and put on a good show next spring.

    1. Kathleen, both the Tiarella and Heuchera are supposed to handle some dryness, but I haven’t really stress tested mine, and I give them some supplemental water. However, this trait is great when planting under the trees, since the tree roots suck up most of the water, and the evergreen boughs keep the ground underneath fairly dry, even after a rain.

    1. Marit, I’ve just ordered two new books on Heuchera and Tiarella, so I’m sure I will find even more of them to desire.

      Patty, the contrast of dark centres on green leaves of the Tiarella ‘Sugar and Spice’ is very decorative, as is the shiny surface. The ones in the back under the Philadelphus (mockorange) have been dong very well this summer, but the site under the evergreens will be a little drier, and won’t get the early spring sun, so it will be interesting to compare their progress next year.

  7. I really like that ‘Sugar and Spice’ with the dark centers. I would be very interested to know how well the tiarella and heuchera do under those trees. Keep us posted.

    1. Lis, I favour them for their year round appearance, too (when not covered up by snow). I was just out in the garden today, and after many frosts they are making some of the nicest displays.

    1. Quu, we’ve had some clear weather recently, so the Heuchera and Tiarella leaves have had their chance to shine in the garden right through the middle of November. It is very cheery to come home and see the plants looking good, instead of dried up perennial stems.

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