Growing Perennials: Fabulous Foliage

Perennials with striking foliage add a strong presence to the garden that doesn't fade as quickly as floral finery can. Leaves linger all season long, weaving steady notes of color, texture and interest into a planting bed. Try a few of these perennials that unfurl eye-catching foliage.

 

Ladys Mantle

Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla mollis)

With velvety leaves that are pest- and disease-free, Lady's Mantle brings carefree elegance to a planting. Chartreuse flowers appear from late spring to midsummer. Plants self-sow freely; remove spent blooms to keep plants from spreading.

Size: 18-24 inches tall and wide

Hardiness: USDA zones 4-9

Where To Use: Part shade to full sun in cooler regions

 

Coral Bells

Coral Bells (Heuchera)

Coral Bells paint the garden in nearly any shade – pink, silver, chartreuse, purple, amber and many others. Colors may coat leaves solidly or mix in multi-hued blends.

Size: 6-10 inches tall and wide

Hardiness: USDA zones 3-10

Where To Use: Full sun to part shade

 

Japanese Painted Fern

Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium niponicum 'Pictum')

Delicate silver fronds glisten on burgundy stems in this deer-resistant perennial. A splash of morning sunshine develops strongest leaf color.

Size: 12-18 inches tall and up to 24 inches wide

Hardiness: USDA zones 4-9

Where To Use: Plants grow Full to part shade

 

Jack Frost Brunnera

Jack Frost Brunnera (Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost')

Silver heart-shaped leaves boast green veins and edges and are slug and deer resistant. Remove spent flowers. If allowed to self-sow, seedlings won't likely resemble parents.

Size: 12 inches tall and 24 inches wide

Hardiness: USDA zones 3-10

Where To Use: Part shade; full sun in areas with cool summers 

 

Arkansas Blue Star

Arkansas Blue Star (Amsonia hubrechtii)

In spring, blue blooms sparkle among finely textured foliage. Deer- and rabbit-resistant leaves are soft to the touch and turn traffic-stopping gold in autumn.

Size: 2-3 feet tall and up to 4 feet wide

Hardiness: USDA zones 4-9

Where To Use: Full sun (ideal) to part shade

 

 

Bonfire Cushion Spurge

Bonfire Cushion Spurge (Euphorbia polychroma'Bonfire')

Bright chartreuse blooms top stems in spring; leaves blaze coppery red in fall. After flowering, cut plants back by half to encourage branching and eliminate flopping. Drought tolerant and deer resistant.

Size: 18-20 inches tall and wide

Hardiness: USDA zones 5-9

Where To Use: Sun to part sun

 

Hosta

Hosta (Hosta)

Leaves embody variety – in textures (puckered, smooth, wavy, shiny) and hues (blue, gold, green, white or variegated). Look for new slug-resistant selections.

Size: Size varies, from 2 inches tall by 4-6 inches wide, to 4 feet tall by 6 feet wide

Hardiness: USDA zones 3-9

Where To Use: Part to full shade (ideal in hot regions)

 

Golden Hakone Grass

Golden Hakone Grass (Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola')

Green-striped yellow leaves set shady corners aglow. Wonderful planting partners include Hosta and Corydalis lutea. 'Nicolas' variety has brilliant fall color. Deer-resistant.

Size: 18 inches tall and wide

Hardiness: USDA zones 4-9

Where To Use: Part sun to full shade

 

Lunwort Pulmonaria

Lungwort (Pulmonaria)

Foliage features silver speckles, splotches or all-over color. Spring blooms open pink, fading to blue. Allow plants to self-sow, and you'll discover more leaf patterns as seedlings won't come true to parents. Deer-resistant.

Size: 8-12 inches tall and 12-24 inches wide

Hardiness: USDA Zones 3-8

Where To Use: Part sun to full shade

 

Sedum

Sedum (Sedum)

Thick foliage comes in an assortment of colors on plant forms from ground cover to upright clump. Low-maintenance Sedum stands up to heat, high humidity and drought.

Size: 2-18 inches tall and up to 24 inches wide

Hardiness: USDA zones 3-10

Where To Use: Full sun to part sun

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