Molly Bush

Fifteen or sixteen years ago I bought a dark purple Heuchera, that despite all of the new introductions since, is still my favorite.  It is misunderstood–often people say ‘Oh, that’s just like Palace Purple.’  Well it’s not.  With more than 100 cultivars of Heuchera sp. on the market and a great variety of dark leafed and purple coral bells, what makes ‘Molly Bush’ special?

H. 'Molly Bush' in my garden
H. 'Molly Bush' in my garden

The large dark and highly textured leaves hold their color and it doesn’t poop out in heat and humidity of our New Jersey summers like so many others.  Better yet, the deer ignore it–I know I’ve offered up next to their favorite hosta!  It’s hardy in Zones 4-8, its pale greenish/white blooms are held on 30″ stems in mid-summer. Heuchera villosa var. purpurea ‘Molly Bush’ was hybridized and introduced by Allen Bush and named after his daughter.   I bought mine from his mail order catalog when he still operated  Holbrook Farm & Nursery.   My ‘Molly’ has been moved, ignored, divided and still it performs.

In a six year long study conducted by the Chicago Botanical Garden, Molly Bush won out over the competition:

The top-rated coral bells in the Garden’s trial were ‘Bressingham Bronze’, ‘Cappuccino’, ‘Molly Bush’, ‘Montrose Ruby’, ‘Palace Purple’ and Heuchera sanguinea ‘White Cloud’. Each of these coral bells received the highest marks based on good habit, healthy foliage, high flower production and winter hardiness. Heuchera ‘Molly Bush’ was the highest rated, with dark purple foliage and greenish white flowers from mid-July though early October and 80 percent flower coverage.

The biggest problem I have with this workhorse of a perennial is that I sometimes have difficulty finding it commercially for installation in my landscape design projects.

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4 thoughts on “Molly Bush

  1. Great to know about ‘Molly Bush’! My heat and humidity is also a killer of my heuchera, especially the darker varieties. I will explore resources for this and see if I can find obtain it for my own garden. Thank you for sharing!

  2. My favorite heuchera is Obsidian. It stays the dark color all summer long. I use it all the time in my designs and it’s readily available in the market.

  3. I like Obsidian too, one of the growers I buy from has stopped growing it because it gets fungus. Maybe that’s only in the containers though. Sunny Border usually has Molly Bush.

  4. Hi Susan, I love Heuchera too…. I often add them in my potts as a focal point and then pop them somewhere in the landscape in the fall when I empty my pots. I am going to send your blog to my neighbor. He just started a Heuchera bed and has so many beautiful varieties. He pairs them with hostas too and they are beautiful.

    Hope you are enjoying the sunshine of NJ … finally, right?

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