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Pruning Coral Bells – Step-by-Step Guide With Pictures

The initial month of spring is drawing to a close, and it’s now the appropriate moment to prune the heuchera plant. Many individuals are curious about the correct pruning technique and what it entails. In this article, I will guide you through the step-by-step process of trimming Coral Bells. 

1. Clean the plants

The initial step is to clear away any leaves and debris from the heucheras, as well as any weeds or moss that may have taken root. This will provide you with better access to the plants and simplify the pruning process.

Utilize gardening gloves and small rakes for the cleaning task, taking care not to harm the plant while tidying the area around it. Avoid tearing the heuchera leaves off with your hands, as this could potentially damage the stems.

2. Choose the right tools

Selecting the right tools is a crucial step in preparing for the trimming process.

Based on my experience, I can attest that pruning shears are the most convenient tool for trimming heucheras. They provide easy access to the stems, which can be especially useful when dealing with thick and large bushes. Additionally, pruning shears allow for precise cutting of the leaf petioles.

Before you commence, it’s important to ensure your tool is well-sharpened, as this will result in more effective trimming. Furthermore, disinfecting your instruments is essential to prevent the introduction of any infections. I personally use alcohol for disinfection, but any antiseptic will suffice.

As mentioned earlier, garden gloves and a small rake will also be necessary to remove the discarded material. You’ll want to have a basket on hand to collect all the trimmed leaves.

3. 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. Avoid damaging young small leaves growing in the center.

Remove any dead leaves left over after winter.

The job is done

4. Cut the stems

If the stems of your plants exceed 4 inches in height, you have the option to trim them. Just trim them to a minimum of 2 inches above the ground level. You can also root these trimmed stems to propagate new plants.

It’s advisable to perform this type of pruning during the spring when the weather is warm, and the plants have already begun to awaken and grow.

Be sure to avoid cutting the stems during early spring when there’s still a risk of frost, as this can result in stem rot and the demise of the plant.

5. Treat the plant with a fungicide and feed it

Following the pruning process, I strongly recommend applying a water-based fungicide solution to the plants. This will help prevent the growth of fungi on and around the plant, as well as reduce the risk of infection through freshly pruned wounds.

The next step is to provide the plant with a small dose of nourishment, as pruning can weaken it slightly. A teaspoon of slow-release fertilizer should suffice. During this period, I do not recommend using organic fertilizers.

When to prune Coral Bells?

The optimal time for trimming Coral Bells is during late spring and early summer. During this period, the plant experiences robust growth and can bounce back well before the onset of winter.

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

Should you cut back Coral Bells in the fall?

Pruning Coral Bells in the fall is not advisable. If you do so, the wounds are unlikely to heal before winter, and they may start to rot. This could result in the plant’s demise by spring.

The only recommended action for the fall is to clear away old, dry leaves from around the bush. This will enhance the cleanliness in the vicinity of the plant.

Should heuchera be cut back for winter?

Only dry leaves should be pruned before winter; nothing else should be trimmed. Pruning heucheras during this time can disrupt their hibernation and put them at risk of disease.

I once made the mistake of pruning a heuchera in December. I removed all the remaining old leaves that were still alive and even trimmed the main stem about two inches from the top.

As a result, I was left with a stump bearing just a few leaves and one cutting. Unfortunately, the cuttings didn’t survive the winter, and the main plant struggled, with some parts rotting away. I had to cut out the entire affected portion, treat it with fungicide, and allow the plant time to recover.

The recovery process spanned an entire year, and it was only towards the end of the season that the plant finally regained its health.

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.