In the past, we have mentioned that foliage often does not get the recognition it deserves in the garden.  In recent years we have seen more interest in foliage and how these versatile plants can be incorporated into your garden.  Foliage can be incorporated into your indoor gardening plans as well as creating mixed combinations.

Foliage is considered begonias to grasses, and all things in between. Foliage has a variety of shapes and does not need to be green. We are now seeing foliage in bold beautiful colors or neutrals.  Besides being added to mixed container combinations, the foliage will add texture to your garden.

If you are interested in adding foliage to your garden, here are some new and recent varieties that might inspire you:

Bewitched Red-Black Rex Begonia – The Bewitched series will be available in three colors in 2020. The other colors are White, and Wintergreen. These colors will be expanded in 2021.  Rex Begonias have colorful foliage and are mainly used as an indoor plant. This plant is easy to grow both indoors and outdoors. These plants can also be grown in terrariums.  Grow these begonias in medium to bright light. Water when the soil or potting mix dries. Rex Begonias don't require quite as much humidity as many other exotic houseplants, but if your home has dry air, boost the humidity in the winter months to keep the leaf tips from turning brown and dry. This type of begonia does not need to be fertilized that often, maybe once or twice a year.  You can use a general-purpose fertilizer. If you want the plant to grow faster, fertilize them more often. Another added benefit is indoors these plants help purify the air.

Silver Ribbon Helichrysum - At the most recent California Spring Trials, there were many new silver plant introductions. Silver plants are great accent plants in flower bed or annual container combinations. Silver Ribbon Helichrysum has flat, needle-like foliage and a sweet fragrance. The soft, silver foliage looks great with bright colored annual flowers.  This plant is low-maintenance and performs best in partial to full sun and is drought tolerant.

Karat Lysimachia – The chartreuse leaves of this cascading plant turn bright yellow in full sun. The Karat Lysimachia is a durable plant with cascading greenish-gold leaves that turn bright yellow in full sun. This plant most likely reminds you of Creeping Jenny. It is an enormously versatile plant that can be used as a groundcover, in patio containers and in hanging baskets adding a bright chartreuse flair to annual combinations.  This heat-seeking plant is a cold-tolerant perennial.

Black Coral Colocasia – One of my favorites is elephant ears. I just planted this variety and it has started to bloom. It has large, jet-black foliage with a blue vein in the leaf. Black Coral brings the tropics to your garden and will certainly be a focal point. It looks wonderful with colorful flowers. I am growing it in a container but use your imagination to see it growing near a pond or in a water garden.  It needs to be watered regularly so the soil is kept moist. It grows best in full to partial sun. This easy to care for plant can even be a houseplant. It is hardy for zones 7 – 10.

Sea Salt Artemisia – Sea Salt Artemisia is another silver plant showcased at the recent California Spring Trials.  Its eye-catching silver foliage is heat and drought tolerant. Sea Salt has a beautiful display of soft, velvety silver-gray leaves that offers a wonderful accent to other colorful flowering plants. Sea Salt loves hot and dry conditions, making gardening success easy. Sea Salt Artemisia can be used as filler in annual combinations or planted in the ground as a perennial bedding plant.

Heartbreaker Coleus – This new coleus with its stunning colors and pattern will be a season extender.  It is a low maintenance plant that will have a high impact effect in the garden. It has wide maroon leaves with a heart of blazing hot pink and a bright green edge that will not fade in full sun.  It will grow around 14 to 16 inches tall and spread 14 to 16 inches. Plant it in full sun and shade.  Coleus needs to stay evenly moist whether it is planted in pots or in flower beds.

Fire-Dragon Miscanthus – This plant has striking graceful arching foliage that starts out green in the spring and then changes to brilliant orange in the fall. If you are looking to add height to your garden, try this plant. The foliage coloring along with silvery-white flowers in the spring to fall makes for an attractive landscape.  For best results plant Fire-Dragon Miscanthus in fertile well-drained soil in full to partial sun. The plant can be used as a garden border, in a modern courtyard, in containers, or as landscaping plantings. It is drought tolerant. The flowers can be used in a dried floral arrangement. Hardiness zones 6 – 9.

Scarlet Flame Caladium – This fiery red caladium with bright green edging makes a great new addition to the Caladium world. The vivid red leaves also have pink and white speckles. This plant does well in both shade and partial sun.  It will last all summer long. Use it as a border plant or in a container.  Either way, it will add some sizzle in the garden. Hardiness zones 9 – 11.

Photos courtesy of Jill Mazur, PlantHaven, International, and Proven Winners.

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