I brought my Heuchera ‘Obsidian’ home from Lowe’s in the spring of 2017. It has very dark purple, nearly black, leaves. It produces creamy-white flowers in late spring through mid-summer on stems about 24” tall. I planted my new Heuchera, Hosta, and several Caladiums (etc.) in the new shade bed I made this spring (2017).
Heuchera ‘Obsidian’ is a Terra Nova® introduction PP14,836 in 2004. Information from their site says H. ‘Obsidian’ is the “Black Standard” which does not fade. They are a vigorous and consistent performer under a wide range of conditions.
Origin: Sun to part shade
Zones: USDA Zones 4-9 ° F
Size: 8-10” tall x 16” wide
Light: Sun to part shade
Soil: Prefers organic, moist, well-drained soil
Water: Average, depending on rainfall
Flowers: Creamy-white in late spring through early summer
Propagation: Can divide after 3 years
Although information suggests they do well in full sun to part shade, I have found their leaves burn in too much light. I prefer light to part shade and where I grow them they get a combination of both, depending on the time of the summer.
In mild winters, their leaves will remain evergreen but in cold winters they will completely die back. They are sensitive to frost heaving like Hosta so you may need to mulch your Heuchera AFTER the ground freezes. This will help keep their ground frozen somewhat. Continual freezing and thawing will heave their roots up losing contact with the soil. They don’t need much mulch, though, because they still need good drainage over the winter.
Heuchera only requires a little maintenance. Trim off dead or damaged leaves in the spring and throughout the summer. Deadhead spent flowers to keep them looking tidy.
Although they do like consistently moist soil, they do not want it overly wet. They become fairly drought tolerant once established.
As you can tell in the above photos, I get behind weeding the beds from time to time. There is always something to do here on the farm. As this new shade bed gets more mature, weeding will be a little easier.
The Heuchera ‘Obsidian’ made it through the winter just fine despite a very cold January.
It seemed to off to a good start.
Cooler temps continued hanging around which made some of the perennials somewhat slow to grow including the Heuchera.
It seemed the Heuchera ‘Obsidian’ seemed to struggle a little.
All the Heuchera in the shade bed didn’t do so well except for the new ‘Lime Rickey’ and the ‘Palace Purple’ I moved to a new location. There were several factors that started out with the cold January, cool and lingering spring, and not enough rain. Then there was the Japanese Beetle invasion which turned the shady area into more of a sunny spot. That meant I had to water more frequently and sometimes I didn’t have enough time.
I am pretty sure the Japanese Beetles will be back in full force in June-July next year and I will have to deal with them again. I am thinking about moving the shade bed to the north side of the house, but that is only a possibility. Having the shade bed under Chinese two Chinese Elm trees has proved not to be a good idea for two reasons… One, the beetles love the leaves and pretty much strip the trees. Two, the moles eat the beetle grubs so they burrow under the plants leaving no soil under their roots. When watering, the water drains down into the mole runs.
Spring is right around the corner, so I took a few photos on March 7 o see what perennials were coming up. The Heuchera don’t normally completely disappear unless it is very cold. In the above photo, you can see new growth on the Heuchera ‘Obsidian’.
Although the Heuchera ‘Obsidian’ is growing, it doesn’t seem to be growing well.
When I was taking photos on April 20, the Heuchera ‘Obsidian’ was looking kind of droopy. I had intended to take a closer look at it anyway, so I dug it up, checked its roots, made sure there wasn’t a mole tunnel under it, amended the soil with cow manure, put it back in the ground at the proper depth, then gave it some water.
I don’t understand how some plants can do great their first year and then go downhill after that. So far it is still being weird!
By May 25, the Heuchera ‘Obsidian’ seemed to be looking much better.
May 25 was the last day I took photos of the Heuchera ‘Obsidian’ in 2019. We had another Japanese Beetle invasion, but I had traps out which helped somewhat.
Spring was in the air on March 30 in 2020 when the above photo was taken. The Heuchera ‘Obsidian’ seemed to be getting off to a good start already.
By May 15, the Heuchera ‘Obsidian’ was looking very good. I was fairly busy over the summer but the Heuchera and Hosta did very well. We had ample rain off and on and we didn’t have the Japanese Beetle issue like we did in 2018 and 2019. Most of the leaves stayed on the trees over the shade beds.
I will continue adding more photos and information as time goes by.
There are MANY sources of Heuchera at local garden centers and online.
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