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10 Great Landscape Plants - Dolce® Blackcurrant

Dolce® Blackcurrant will tolerate sun and shade, and anything in between.

Contributors: Kerry Meyer

I really wanted to call this series of articles "10 Plants Every Gardener Should Try in the Landscape," but this seemed a bit long for a title.  Whatever you call them, these 10 plants should be great in landscapes in almost any climate.  They were chosen to be heat tolerant, need limited to no supplemental water and be easy to care for with no deadheading necessary.  I've grown them all (most of them repeatedly) and love them!

  1. Artist® Blue Ageratum
  2. Lo & Behold® 'Blue Chip' Buddleia
  3. Senorita Rosalita® Cleome
  4. Graceful Grasses® King Tut® Cyperus
  5. Diamond Frost® Euphorbia
  6. Dolce® Blackcurrant Heuchera
  7. Illusion® Midnight Lace Ipomoea
  8. Luscious® Citrus Blend Lantana
  9. Snow Princess® Lobularia
  10. Supertunia® Vista Bubblegum Petunia

While the majority of Proven Winners® plants are annuals, we do also sell some great perennials. My favorite perennial from our collection is Dolce® Blackcurrant Heuchera.  I am willing to bet that ten or even five years ago, only hard core gardeners had heard of Coral Bells or Heuchera.  This rather unassuming genus of shade plants had foliage often tinted with bronze, silver or purple and sported spikes of delicate white, pink, or corally-red flowers.  There were a few varieties with strong foliage colors, but mostly the foliage was green with tints of color.  The people that knew Coral Bells were perennial lovers or gardeners blessed with lots of shade.  The general gardening public wasn't really all that aware of these plants.

The last decade has certainly changed that!  Heuchera has been transformed from shade plants to plants that can take shade to part sun, and some even tolerate full sun.  I'm not quite certain why we want to take our limited number of shade plants and turn them into sun plants when there are already SO many sun plants out there, but it has made the genus more flexible.  In my experience, the green and black to purple based foliage varieties have the most sun tolerance, while lighter colors will do best in shade to part shade.

The plants originally were given equal billing for their foliage color, which was ok, but not spectacular, and their flower power.  The foliage colors have been transformed over the past decade.  You see Coral Bells with chartreuse, orange, red, purple, burgundy, silver, green, caramel, yellow, peach and pink foliage.  Some even sport speckled foliage or veins in a contrasting color. The foliage colors are often brighter and richer with cool temperatures. The main selling point for most Coral Bells these days is the colorful foliage.  Some still have nice flowers, but most flowers are a bit ho-hum if not downright unattractive.  The next step for plant breeders will be developing Heuchera with fantastic foliage colors coupled with great flowers.

There are many cultivars out there, but my favorite is Dolce® Blackcurrant.  This plant is vigorous with large purple leaves overlain with silver.  When temperatures are cool, plummy-pink colors are an added accent (photo above, left).  Dolce® Blackcurrant will tolerate sun and shade, and anything in between.  It does prefer a well drained soil.  Its flowers are non-descript and I usually trim them off after they appear en masse.  Dolce® Blackcurrant is perennial to zone 4.

Dolce® Blackcurrant is great in mixed perennial plantings, but also looks good when masses of it are planted together.  While landscape plantings will be the most common use (photo above, right), it is also quite adaptable for use as a foliage accent in combination planters (photo below, left).  This is a great plant to add color to early spring gardens and containers.  The foliage is often evergreen and looks its best when temperatures are cool.   Since their main selling point is attractive foliage, the plants will add color and interest to your garden from the time snow melts in the spring until snow covers them again in winter.

They are easy to maintain with little input necessary.  They will need some watering during extended dry periods.  If the foliage sustains winter damage, you can easily remove damaged foliage by clipping it off with pruning shears or scissors.  If the plant has wide-spread damage, you can trim it back to soil level and it will re-sprout from the roots.  Plants will do best if they are dug up and divided every three years or so.

In Southern climates they will fare best when planted in shaded locations, to help with the extreme heat.  The plants will sometimes struggle with extreme heat and humidity.

Vital Stats

Type:  Perennial to zone 4

Sun/Shade:  Will perform well in sun or shade in Northern climates, but will do best in shade in Southern climates.

Height:  The foliage is 8 to 12 inches tall, with flower spikes a foot or more taller than the foliage.

Spacing:  16 to 20 inches apart

Habit:  Mounded, used as a filler plant for combination planters.

Bloom Time:  Spring 

Artist® Blue Ageratum hybrid 'Agsantis' USPP15,289, Can. 2050; Lo & Behold® 'Blue Chip' Buddleia hybrid USPP19,991, CPBRAF; Senorita Rosalita® Cleome hybrid 'Inncleosr' USPP19,733, Can. 3290; Diamond Frost® Euphorbia 'Inneuphdia' USPP17,567, Can. 2830; Dolce® Blackcurrant Heuchera hybrid 'PWHeu0109' USPP19,574, Can. 3774; Illusion Midnight Lace Ipomoea batatas 'NCORNSP-011MDNTLC' USPPAF, CPBRAF; Luscious® Citrus Blend Lantana camara '2003.301' USPP19,706; Snow Princess Lobularia hybrid 'Inlbusnopr' USPPAF, CPBRAF; Supertunia® Vista Bubblegum Petunia hybrid 'USTUNI6001' USPP17,730, Can. 2871

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Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Sat, 01/05/2013 - 10:15am

I really do love Heucheras and I think this one will be a great addition to my small collection which consists of about 6.

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