Fantastic Foliage Plants. Fuchsia pink and lime green Coleus leaves. Fantastic Foliage Plants For Your Garden

Fantastic Foliage Plants For Your Garden

I don’t know about you but when I first started gardening, I was all about the flowers, instant colour and impact, as such I never considered fantastic foliage plants for your garden.

I bought plants that were in bloom, a trick garden centres use to reel in the unwise. Playing on a gardeners desire to always see lots of flowering plants.

Over time, I learnt that many of these flowering plants do not last very long as they are force grown and being sold out of season. Which leads to disappointment and a possible loss of confidence to try again.

I also learnt patience and started to invest in perennial plants that would come back year after year instead of being tempted by lots of annuals.

Then I realised that to have interest, colour and form all year round I needed some foliage plants too.

Because once flowers finish what else have you got? Gardens need evergreens as well as deciduous plants. Foliage helps to bridge the gap between the seasons and provided further interest.

Novice gardeners come to see that whilst the flowering plants are beautiful and we need them, foliage plants add another dimension and more depth to any garden design or style.

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What Are Fantastic Foliage Plants?

What exactly are foliage plants? Well, Basically any plant that has unusual leaves, foliage that out shines the flowers, or

has decorative, colourful, variegated and interesting leaf markings.

Foliage plants create interesting garden areas, providing shade, cover, habitat and food for wildlife as well being aesthetically pleasing.

Many gardeners use a variety of interesting plants for hedging requirements too. Evergreen shrubs or deciduous, or indeed a mixture of both can add value to hedges. Choosing plants that withstand the weather can help to not only protect your property but the more robust hedge planting will protect more delicate plants in the garden too.  Best Evergreen Windbreak Shrubs And Trees shows you how.

They are often a source of longer-lasting effects than plants with short term flowers and/or annuals.


What Plants Are Grown For Their Foliage?

There are endless plants that can be grown for their foliage alone, but many also produce flowers, fruit or berries, so there are ornamental plants as well as productive ones.

You will also find deciduous and evergreen foliage plants. Evergreen ones being of more value for all year round interest.

Some examples of plants that are grown for their foliage and that you might want to try are:

  • Hostas
  • Ferns
  • Fatsia Japonica
  • Bamboo
  • Caladiums
  • Hebe
  • Grasses

Miscanthus and Molina are just two examples of grasses that provide soft movements and form and look great throughout summer and autumn. You could also try festuca or for a dark, dramatic effect go for Black Ornamental Grass – Ophiopogon nigra

  • Dark leaf Dahlias

Bishop varieties, Bishop of Llandaff or Bishop of Oxford for example, their dark leaves are a wonderful contrast to the flower colours and look great amongst other perennial plants in the border. Black leaf plants always help to add some wow factor and are right on trend.

  • Phormiums

These wonderful architectural plants are drought resistant and look great all year. They require very little maintenance and there are many colourful varieties such as deep shades of purple almost black, pinks, reds and oranges.

Red Phormium Jester Fantastic Foliage Plants For Your Garden
Red Phormium
Fantastic Foliage Plants For Your Garden

Phormium Jester

Phormium Black Velvet

Phormium Sun downer

  • Sempervivums and many other succulents

Find out more about how to use and maintain succulent plants in your garden displays from my article How to Grow Succulent Plants


Variegated and Bold Colour Foliage

Plants that have variegated or bold colour foliage and fantastic flowers are an added bonus. They can be used in the beds and borders or to create eye-catching displays in garden containers and hanging baskets.

  • Arum italicum
  • Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’
  • Cyclamen
  • Canna
  • Bergenias
  • Coleus
  • Heuchera
  • Physocarpus Diablo
  • Rubus giraldianus ‘White Stemmed Bramble’
  • Hellenium

All the above are grown for their fantastic foliage impact.

Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost'
Fantastic Foliage Plants For Your Garden
Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’

Vegetables and Fruit with Fantastic Foliage

You don’t have to stop at the ornamental Plants, there are numerous vegetables and fruit with fantastic foliage.

Whether you grow veg on an allotment, in raised beds, on a balcony in pots or at home in the gardens and borders you can have a colourful selection of foliage. Swiss chard is probably the easiest, most productive veg and what’s more there are rainbow varieties that offer beautiful colours.

Curly leaf kale, both green and purple add texture.

Purple sage has gorgeous pale mauve to dark purple leaf colouring and blueberries give the garden some stunning autumn colour.

Cardoons and artichokes have silvery grey foliage and are valuable architectural plants.

  • Swiss Chard
  • Cardoons
  • Artichokes
  • Kale
  • Purple Kale
  • Purple sage
  • Red Cabbage
  • Red Lettuce
  • Blueberry
Rainbow Swiss Chard. Fantastic Foliage Plants For Your Garden
Vegetables And Fruit With Fantastic Foliage
Swiss Chard


What To Consider When Choosing Foliage Plants

As with any plant there are points to consider when making your choices.

Where are your plants going to live? Is the location shady, full sun, North, South, East or West facing?

For some shade loving plants with beautiful foliage take a look at Plants That Like A Shade Garden

What soil type do they require?

Do they like dry or damp conditions?

Will they need any support or something to grown against?

Always think…right plant, right place.

Other considerations are whether they are going to be planted on their own as a feature or will they have companion plants?

Will they look good with other plants or will the colours or variegation clash with different colours?

The same principles apply for foliage as with shrubs, trees and flowering plants.

A great way of finding inspiration and ideas for your garden is to visit other well maintained national gardens. There are many lovely sites within the National Trust properties. Not only are they often of historical interest but they help us to see what we could achieve in our own outdoor spaces.

National Trust-Join now and enjoy great days out in the fresh air for all the family.


I hope that if you haven’t yet considered foliage plants for your garden that this article will inspire you, and give you confidence to try some. Many plants offer more than one point of interest. If you are looking for more impact in your garden then choosing plants with spectacular foliage is the way forward. Vibrant leaf patterns and colour doesn’t have to be relegated to autumn. You can have them all through the year from many types of plants.

Please share with your family, friends and on social media.

If you have any questions or views you can add them to the comments box below and I will reply as soon as I can.

Thank you

Happy Gardening

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