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Fertilizing Coral Bells

Author Maureen Farmer Published 12-16-2020

Coral bells (Heuchera) is a perennial plant primarily grown for its evergreen heart-shaped foliage. There are hundreds of varieties available.

Coral bells are short-lived perennials, but you can make them last longer by dividing them every three to five years. Divide your coral bells in early spring or early fall. Heucheras are not heavy feeders but will benefit from occasional light fertilization.

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How to Fertilize Coral Bells

Fertilize coral bells in the spring by adding a half-inch of compost or a slow-release fertilizer at half strength. Be sure not to cover the crown (the point where the leaves grow from) with compost. Do not apply quick release fertilizers because this will reduce the likelihood of the plant flowering.

Feed container garden coral bells with a water-soluble fertilizer to replenish nutrients that wash away during watering or heavy rainfall events.

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Applying too much fertilizer will result in excess foliage. This foliage will be weak and spindly.

Coral bells grow best in slightly acid soil with a pH in the 5.5 to 6.5 range on the pH scale. Most garden soils are suitable for growing Heuchera. Test your soil with a pH kit if you’re not sure if it’s within the acceptable range.

Coral bells grow best in moist, but well-drained soil. Overwatering may cause root rot. Add compost to improve drainage in heavy clay soils. Water in the morning so the leaves have a chance to dry before the sun is high in the sky to prevent leaf scald and foliage diseases.

Best Time to Fertilize Coral Bells

The best time to fertilize coral bells is in the spring, around the time the plant breaks its winter dormancy and new growth appears. They only need fertilizing once a year. Avoid using full-strength fertilizers at the time of planting to avoid burning the plant’s roots.

Best Fertilizer for Coral Bells

Use a water-soluble or granular slow-release 5-10-5 or 12-6-6 fertilizer mix. The numbers show the percentage of N (nitrogen), P (phosphorus), and K (potassium) in the fertilizer. You can also blend organic supplements such as bone meal and alfalfa meal into the soil. Topdressing with compost is also recommended. These supplements will slowly release nutrients into the soil and safely feed your coral bells.

Coral Bells Fertilizing Tips

  • Fertilize in the spring
  • Use a water soluble or slow release fertilizer
  • Do not over-fertilize
  • Add a half inch layer of compost annually but be sure not to cover the plant’s crown during application

*Always wear protective gloves and a face mask when handling chemical fertilizers.

*Closely follow all directions and storage guidelines that are on the fertilizer label.