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Pruning Coral bells – Complete guide with pictures

The first month of spring is coming to an end, and now it’s time to trim the heuchera. Many people want to know how to trim properly and what it takes.

In this article, I will tell you to step by step how I cut Сoral Bells. Also, I will describe what a leggy Heuchera is and what to do with it.

Clean the plants

The first thing you need to do is to clear the heucheras from the leaves and residues of other plants. If weeds or moss grow there, remove them. This will give you access to the plants and make the pruning process easier.

Use garden gloves and small rakes to clean. Avoid damaging the plant when you are cleaning the space around it.

Do not tear the heuchera leaves off with your hands, as you may damage the stem.

Choose the right tools

Tools are one of the most important steps in preparing for trimming.

From my experience, I can say that the most convenient for trimming heucheras are thin and long scissors. With this tool, you can get to the stem, especially when the bush is very thick and large. Besides, the scissors cut the petioles of the leaves very carefully.

Another convenient tool is the pruning shears. This tool does a good job too, but not as neatly as scissors. If you like this kind of tool, use a small model because big pruning shears can easily damage the main stem.

Do not use a knife as it is not very convenient for this type of work. With a knife, you can damage not only the main stem but also cause damage to your hands.

Before you begin, you need to sharpen the tool well. It will allow you to trim better. Also, disinfect your instruments, this is necessary to avoid bringing any infection. I use alcohol to disinfect, but you can use any antiseptic.

As I wrote above, you will also need garden gloves and a small rake to cut everything you need to throw away. You will also need a basket where you can collect all the leaves.

Trim old leaves

Be careful when pruning. First, inspect the plant, if new leaves begin to grow in the center of the bush then you can prune the plant.

Cut only old leaves, which usually grow on long and thin stems. Try to cut leaf petioles near the main stem, but do not damage the main stem. Also, avoid damaging young small leaves growing in the center.

Remove any dead leaves left over after winter.

The job is done

The picture shows how I trimmed my heuchera. If you practice, over time pruning will take a very short time.

Do not cut the stem

Everything I wrote above relates to spring pruning. In the spring, I cut only old leaves so that it does not interfere with the growth of young leaves.

You should not cut the top of the main stem even if it is high. Early spring is not suitable for trimming the head of the heuchera, especially if you want to root the cuttings. For such pruning, it is better to choose another time, which we will discuss below.

Treat the plant with a fungicide and feed it

After pruning, I recommend spraying the plants with an aqueous solution of fungicide. This will stop the development of fungi on and around the plant. This will also avoid infection through fresh wounds from pruning.

The second thing to do is to feed the plant a little since pruning will weaken it slightly. A teaspoon of slow-release fertilizer will be sufficient. At this time, I do not recommend fertilizing with organic fertilizers.

When to prune Coral bells?

About how I prune Coral bells in the spring I have already described, now let’s talk about what other seasons you can prune these plants.

Type of pruning Spring Summer Fall Winter
Pruning last year’s leaves yes yes no no
Pruning leggy heuchera yes in late spring yes no no
Pruning dry leaves yes yes yes yes

The table shows that you can prune leaves that are superfluous, throughout the season except in the fall and winter. Such pruning is mandatory in the spring.

Dry leaves can be removed at any time of the year.

Do you cut back Coral bells in the fall?

In the fall, I don’t prune heucheras at all, as it needs a lot of energy to survive the winter. The more leaves remain on the plant, the better it will overwinter.

Also, pruning the lower leaves will expose the lower part of the stem. As a result, the stem may rot during the winter.

It is also essential that you remove all dead leaves. This should be done for the reason that a dead leaf produces fungal diseases that can damage the plant. You need to do this several times a year.

Cutting back Coral bells for winter

Only dry leaves can be pruned before winter; nothing else should be pruned. Cropped heucheras may not hibernate well and are at risk of developing the disease.

Once I pruned a heuchera in December. All the old leaves that were still alive were cut off. I also cut the main stem two inches from the top.

TAs a result, I got a stump with a few leaves and one cutting. The cuttings died in the winter. The main plant barely survived, some of it decayed. I cut the whole rotten part, treated it with fungicide, and left the plant to recover.

The recovery process took a whole year. Only at the end of the season, the plant becomes healthy.

Leggy Heuchera

In the process of growth, Coral bells elongate the main stem, and such a plant is called leggy heuchera.

If you love these plants, sooner or later you will face the need to shorten them. Next, we’ll talk about how to do it right and what is the right time to do it.

Depending on what you want, the cutting time of the stem may vary. If you just want to shorten the plant, then you can do it from April to August. By winter, the plant will have time to heal the wound, and everything will be ok.

If you want to root a cut stem, then it is better to prune in late spring or early summer. At this time, the air temperature is already high enough, and the rooting process will be better.

Besides, the time to form roots will be enough, and by winter, the cuttings will become a full-fledged plants.

Cut the stem when it reaches at least two inches in height. Cut it in half, and leaves should remain on both parts.

Read more: Can Heuchera Be Propagated From Cuttings?


Friday 14th of April 2023

What type of fertilizer and fungicide do you recommend?

Igor Viznyy

Friday 14th of April 2023

I use Osmocote NPK 15-9-12 with a 9-month release period. So far all my Coral Bells are happy.

As for fungicides, usually, any multi-purpose fungicide does well with most fungi. In addition to that, I also use a copper fungicide.