Saturday, May 17, 2014

Heuchera Woody? Rejuvenate And Propagate At The Same Time!

The winter took a toll on some of my Heuchera, especially the older ones.  My larger (older) Heuchera looked absolutely horrible!  Here are a couple that needed lots of help:
"Caramel" Heuchera
"Southern Comfort" Heuchera looks dead

It was the combination of sub-zero temps, snow load and varmints-specifically rabbits and voles that have my Heuchera looking like they are goners.  But guess what-they aren't goners.  In fact, they will be back to their awesome selves in a few weeks with a little help from me and a couple of tools.

Here is what you will need:
1.  Good pair of clean, sharp scissors
2.  A pitchfork and/or shovel

If you want to propagate a few while you are working on them you will also need:

3.  Rooting hormone
4.  Small pots
5.  Sterile potting mix
 Begin by carefully cutting and removing the dead/almost dead leaves off near the crown:
 Also look for dead and dried up pieces of crown and remove them also, they look like this:
You can cut them off or sometimes they just snap off:
Be sure to be careful and not cut off some of the new growth.  When you are done removing the leaves it should look similar to this (you can now see the new growth):

 Here is the other Heuchera ("Southern Comfort") after I cleaned it up:

I don't know if you noticed-but the first Heuchera  is extremely woody.  There is a way to remedy that.  You can either cover the area with soil to cover the woody areas or you can lift the Heuchera and put it in deeper.  Since this is a raised bed area  (no problems with crown rot) I will dig it up and put it in deeper.  Here is how you do it:

1.  Gently lift or dig the Heuchera out of the ground.  I like to use a pitchfork as much as possible-it causes less damage to the roots of the plant.
2.  Set it to the side then dig the hole a few inches deeper than it was.
3.  Place the Heuchera back in the hole ensuring that the larger "woody" pieces are going to be covered in soil:
4.  Gently firm the soil back over the roots and some of the stems.
Here is what it should end up looking like:

If the area where your Heuchera is planted has poor drainage you can leave it in it's spot but just mound soil/compost over the woody areas like this:
"Woody" Heuchera

Cover the woody areas with some soil/compost
Make sure to get underneath and around the stems
All stems covered
All done and mulched

After you clean them up you can decide whether or not you want to take a few cuttings.  I did-so here is how I do it:

1.   Locate a nice size piece that looks healthy and trace it down to the crown like this:
Here is another one:
Or you can take a piece from the top of the crown- I took of the big protruding piece off of this one to even it out:

 2.  Cut the piece as far down as you can without damaging the crown.  Make sure to have enough stem:

3.  You should end up with something like this:
or this:
4.  Fill pots with damp potting soil  and them make an indentation in the middle with your finger:
5.  Trim your stems of excess leaves near the stem.  Do not leave too many-the plant will wilt.  You need as few leaves as possible, and they should be on the smaller size.
You should end up with this:
6.  Dampen the stem and dip it in the rooting hormone:
7.  Insert the plant into the hole in the potting soil up to where the new growth (new crown) is developing and then gently firm the soil around the base of the plant:
Heuchera cutting

Heuchera cutting

Heuchera cuttings
8.  Water gently and you are done-it will take a few months for the roots to develop.  Keep them in shade and make sure to keep them watered.   Here are a few I did last fall:
Heuchera cuttings
The roots when ready to plant in the ground:
Heuchera cutting with roots

Here are some before and after pics of the 2 Heucheras-"Caramel" and "Southern Comfort" from the beginning of the post.  You will notice that they are starting to fill in nicely
"Caramel" before 
"Caramel" right after I cleaned it up and buried the woody stems

"Caramel" 2 weeks later-looking good:-))
"Southern Comfort" before-ugh!
After I cleaned it up
Today-2 weeks later, WOW!
If your Heucheras are looking woody and messy or if you just want more of them, use these tips to make more and bring them back to their former beauty.  You won't be sorry you did it!  So, until next time-Happy Planting!



  1. You are so helpful Rhonda, This is another help me how to , you also help me on Hometalk..
    Smiles, Cyndi

  2. Thank you for all of the great pictures and tips!

  3. Now just tell the deer to leave them alone. The thought of deer jerky is tempting.

  4. Thank you for such detailed explanation, very much appreciated!