Sunday, June 17, 2012


A few years ago I fell in love with heucheras, also known as the coral bells. I have a few splashy ones, mostly green leaved varieties with dark wine-colored veins or with silver patches on the leaves. One has carmel leaves with a reddish underside, while another is a dark burgundy with pink splashes on it. I made sure to bring them all with me to the new house when we moved several years ago. Additionally we have a few of the native coral bells growing wild on our property. They're pretty spindly and have unremarkable coloration to the leaves, so I've left them to themselves in the woods but it's always fun to run across one.

Last year my heuchera varieties bloomed their little hearts out. While these varieties are grown largely for their foliage and not for their tiny white flowers, the solitary bees loved them and I just let them do their thing well into late summer. Heuchera pollen must be brightly colored because I often saw these little bees with bright orange pollen in their leg "baskets" that they use to collect it.

Then I neglected to cut the spent flower stalks and they went to seed. Much to my surprise, I had volunteer heucheras coming up in various places this spring. And the parentage of these volunteers is to anyone's guess.

These crosses are not so much the love child of two consenting adult plants as the whim and fancy of the solitary bees that visited the blooming parents. Most of the seedlings appear to have green leaves with some silvering.

But a few also look like this, with more of a greenish-wine background overlaid with silvering and with dark veins. I'm curious to see if the foliage coloration will change as the plant matures.

It's entirely possible that the bees transferred pollen from my horticultural varieties along with some from the native plants nearby. One of my volunteers has already flowered, so who knows what might show up next year?

No comments: