Grower Select: Caramel Coral Bells
Eye candy! Coral Bells come in an incredible array of tantalizing colors and forms these days, but this one is especially hard to resist. Caramel Coral Bells will light up your entryway garden, mixed border, or patio plantings with dreamy hues. When the large leaves first unfurl, they’re a smoky scarlet color; they soon soften to a lovely tawny peach, progressing to amber-gold and chartreuse. In summer breezes, you may also get glimpses of the purple undersides. Caramel is more tolerant of heat and humidity than other Coral Bells, which makes it a sweet choice even in the South. So pretty.
Coral Bells are native Spirits that grow all over North America in different forms. Up until the 1990s, gardeners considered them to be nice garden plants, but nothing too spectacular. Then breeders began to make crosses, and exciting new Coral Bells in brilliant colors began to appear. Caramel Coral Bells originated at the nursery of Sandrine and Thierry Delabroye in Hantay, France. The Delabroyes selected it from a crop of open-pollinated seedlings in 2003. One of the probable parents, Autumn Pride Coral Bells, is what gives Caramel its excellent heat and humidity tolerance.
Flowers, too! Caramel Coral Bells is grown primarily for its captivating amber-peach foliage, but its blooms are a nice bonus. In early summer, tiny, airy white blossoms rise on slim stems, making a lovely accompaniment to the earth-toned leaves.
How to Grow
Most Coral Bells do best in morning sun, with shade during the hottest part of the day. Bright light will bring out the richest coloring in their foliage, but intense sun can scorch some varieties. Plant Caramel in rich, organic, well-drained soil that is moist but never soggy. Trim off spent flower spikes if you find them unattractive. Caramel is evergreen; clean up any winter-damaged foliage in early spring. Black vine weevils can be a problem in some areas. You can control them organically with beneficial nematodes if this is the case, or simply keep your Coral Bells in containers.
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