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Foliage Plants: Adding Depth and Texture to Your Garden

Explore the variety of leaf-forward plants that can enhance your outdoor space

Gardeners often focus on flowers to add color to their outdoor spaces. However, foliage plants can also play a significant role in adding depth, texture, and contrast to gardens.

Unlike flowers, foliage plants do not have a limited bloom time and can thrive in shady spots. They also tend to be lower maintenance since they do not require pruning or deadheading to look their best.

Ground Covers

Heuchera, also known as coral bells or alumroot, is a foliage plant with large, heart-shaped or rounded frilly leaves that come in a range of colors. Siberian bugloss is another foliage plant that works well as a groundcover, with silvery foliage that contrasts with surrounding greenery. Sweet potato vine is a vining plant that can quickly cover ground or a trellis with its heart-shaped, lobed, or lacy green, chartreuse, purple, red, bronze, burgundy, or purple leaves.

Coral bells

Artemisia, also known as mugwort or wormwood, adds a silvery touch to beds and containers, particularly in moon gardens. The fragrant plant also resists deer and rabbit browsing.

Mid-Size Marvels

The polka dot plant is a foliage plant with vibrant foliage splashed with pink, white, or red blotches or dots. Angel wings are prized for their intricately patterned, arrowhead-shaped foliage, which can grow up to 2 feet tall. Coleus is a foliage plant that comes in a range of heights, colors, leaf sizes, and shapes, making it suitable for every garden or container.


Statement Plants

Pink Muhly grass is a foliage plant that shines in fall with its pink, airy inflorescences. In winter, its plumes fade to silver-gray. Little bluestem is a 3-foot-tall foliage plant with gray-green blades and dramatic red, purple, and orange autumn colors that persist through winter. “Black Magic” elephant ears is a foliage plant that quickly grows to a height of 3-5 feet by midseason, with nearly black, deep-purple, heart-shaped leaves often surpassing 2 feet in length.

Summary: Foliage plants are an often-overlooked aspect of gardening, offering depth, texture, and contrast to outdoor spaces. From ground covers to mid-size marvels and statement plants, there is a foliage plant for every garden and style.

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