Which would you choose for your garden: flowering plants or foliage plants? Most would choose flowering plants. But the subordinate position of foliage plants is actually undeserved. You might not know this, but foliage can be highly distinctive and easily outperform the ornamental value of flowers. And to top it all off, leaves are what provide our delightful little garden or balcony with oxygen.
The leaves of foliage plants
The leaves of plants do something that keeps us all alive. They engage in a wonderful process with a scientific name: photosynthesis. Powered by light, chlorophyll in the leaves turns water and CO2 into glucose (food) and oxygen. The glucose allows the plant to grow, and the oxygen provides all the animals on our planet – including us – with oxygen to breathe. So the leaves of plants have a big job to do!
Discover what makes leaves special
The variety in leaves is inexhaustible. There are needle-like leaves and heart-shaped leaves; large, almost round leaves and extremely long narrow leaves; rosettes of tiny fat moisture-packed leaves and arrow-shaped leaves arranged in whorls. And if that weren’t enough variation, consider their wide range of colors and patterns: red, blue, yellow, green, brown, purple, spotted, striped… Let yourself go…discover the countless kinds of special foliage plants.
Colorful borders containing flowering plants are simply lovely. But they also demand extra maintenance now and then and are at their best for only a short length of time. Special foliage plants, on the other hand, are low-maintenance plants that look wonderful almost all year long. Their leaves start appearing in March/April and remain attractive until well into October. Evergreen varieties even look nice all year round.
Sun or shade?
If you want foliage plants in your garden, decide first of all where you want to plant them. Some varieties, such as Plantain lilies (Hosta), Foam flower (Tiarella), Caucasian forget-me-not (Brunnera), Coral bells (Heuchera) and most ferns, will thrive in shade or partial shade. Others, like the silver-leaved Wormwood (Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’), the velvety-soft woolly Lamb’s Ear (Stachys byzantina ‘Big Ears’) and the finely textured New Zealand bur (Acaena microphylla ‘Kupferteppich’), will be perfect for a sunny location.
Did you know that…
- flowers and flower bulbs are also leaves? The plants have simply given them another function: flowers provide the plant with seeds, and flower bulbs are used to store food reserves.
- fall is the perfect time to plant foliage plants in the garden, a plant container or pots?
- perennials with special foliage are extremely hardy and will emerge year after year?