These two herbaceous perennials have outstanding foliage that will add texture and color all season long. The combination will peak, however, when bear’s breeches produces its stalks of pink or white flowers each with a purplish hood that echoes the purple of heuchera’s leaves. Both plants form attractive clumps and grow well in lightly shaded areas with moist but well-drained soil.
Bear’s Breeches (Acanthus spp)
There are two species of Acanthus that will do well in this combination; A. spinosa and A. mollis. They differ in height and hardiness but both have flowers with purple tinted hoods and large deeply lobed rich green leaves that served as a model for the capitals of Greek Corinthian columns. The flowers of Acanthus often show pink and these are especially attractive with the purple leaves of heuchera so look for them when you select a plant.
Bloom Time: Late spring to summer
Size: A. spinosa – 3-4′ H x 2-3′ W; A. mollis – 3-5′ H x 2-3′ W
Hardiness: A. spinosa – zones Zone 5-9; A. mollis – zones 7-10
Coral Bells (Heuchera micrantha var. diversifolia) ‘Palace Purple’
This old favorite features palmately lobed leaves that resemble the leaves of maple trees but have a rich brown purple color. Plants vary greatly in their ability to hold on to the purple color as the heat of summer arrives so pick your plants carefully. Loose panicles of pinkish white flowers appear in early summer but some gardeners remove them because they feel they detract from the appearance of the plant. Choose for yourself.
Bloom Time: Early summer
Size: 1-2′ H x 1-1.5′ W
Hardiness: Zones 4-9