Pruning Coral Bells

Coral Bells, also known as Heucheras, is a leafy plant native to North America and boasts brightly-colored foliage and striking variegation. This plant is low maintenance and grows as a perennial in USDA zones 4 through 9. Coral Bells will retain their foliage and grow as an evergreen in warm regions, but the plant leaves will die back in cold areas that have snowy winters.

Cutting back Coral Bells will help the plant look its best and promote new growth during the growing season. It is essential to know how to trim Coral Bells properly, especially in cold climates, ensuring the plant will survive the winter. Find out what you need to know about pruning Coral Bells to help your plant thrive.


When to Prune Coral Bells

Spring is generally the best time to prune Heucheras. In cold areas that experience snow and damaging frosts, all of the foliage will die back. It is best to leave this foliage to insulate and protect the roots throughout the winter. The dead growth can be removed in the spring after there is no longer a chance of frost.

Plants grown in warmer areas may experience some winter damage, and this too can be removed in the spring when the temperatures are consistently warm but before new growth starts to emerge. Dead or damaged sections can be removed at any time during the spring and summer. 

Tall stems covered in flowering inflorescences grow in late spring through the summer. The flowers are plain compared to the foliage, and some gardeners prefer to remove the blooms so the plant can focus that energy on foliage production. If you want to grow Coral Bells just for the foliage, then pinch back the flowering stems as soon as they appear.

Coral Bells may appear leggy or straggly partway through the growing season. Sections with elongated stems can be removed during the spring or summer to give the plant a tidy appearance. When possible, avoid pruning the plant in the fall and winter.

Why Prune Coral Bells

Leaving foliage in place during the fall and winter helps protect this perennial from cold temperatures and winter conditions. Remove dead growth in the spring to clear the way for new foliage and give the plant a fresh start. Flowers or straggly growth can be pruned away to allow the plant to redirect energy into more foliage growth. Coral Bells is primarily grown for its showy leaves, and pruning the plant can encourage more healthy and abundant foliage.

How to Prune Coral Bells

Step 1 - Inspect the plant during the spring and summer.

Remove damaged or dead growth using clean pruning shears.

Step 2 - Pinch back flowers.

Pinch back flowering stems to promote more foliage growth.

Step 3 - Cut back leggy sections.

Elongated sections of the stem can give the plant an unwieldy and straggly look. Prune leggy sections to clean up the plant and promote more growth.

Coral Bells Pruning Tips

  • Leave the foliage in place during the fall and winter and remove dead or damaged sections in the spring
  • Cut back stems and inflorescences if that is the desired look 
  • Trim away leggy parts to create a more full and compact plant


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 Author Alison Cotsonas - Published 15-01-2022