Rachel is a passionate plantsperson, YouTuber and author living in Ireland. She grows a wide range of hardy subtropical and tropical plants.
Foliage Plants for Sunny Gardens
Whether you're looking to fill out a garden border or find plants that look pretty even when they're not in bloom, foliage plants can be a great and easy way to add color and interest to your garden year round.
In this article, you'll learn about three amazing (and low-maintenance!) foliage plants for sunny gardens.
1. Coral Bells (Heuchera)
The Heuchera, or coral bells, is a fabulous plant that comes in a range of leaf colors. I find the deep reds and purples to be particularly attractive. This plant makes low mounds of foliage, providing color virtually all year round. The edges of the leaves are wavy, and the plant produces sprays of small flowers on spires in summer.
Coral bells can be grown in full sun or light shade, but they color up best in full sun. They're unfussy over soil and are happy with most good, reasonably well-drained soils. These plants are hardy to -4˚F (-20˚C).
Coral Bell Maintenance and Care
Over time, you may find that your Heuchera rootstalk lifts from the ground. This can be addressed by annual mulching or lifting and replanting a little deeper in autumn, at which time the plant can be divided.
The only other maintenance required of the Heuchera is the deadheading of flowers, but this can be left until the spikes actually turn brown and crisp. Personally, I love the look of a fuzzy mass of spent Heuchera flowers floating over the leaves.
2. Red-Hot Poker (Kniphofia caulescens)
Next up is a red-hot poker called Kniphofia caulescens. For the most part, red-hot pokers don't make good foliage plants, as many produce very messy leaves. But the caulescens red-hot poker is different; its evergreen leaves appear semi-succulent, providing year-round interest. The emergence of orange flower spikes is a bonus.
Grow the red-hot poker in full sun and moist but well-drained soil. It's hardy to 5˚F (-15 C).
Red-Hot Poker Maintenance and Care
The only maintenance is to cut out flower stems after flowering and perhaps to trim the tips of browning leaves and remove lower dead leaves. The plant may be propagated by taking offshoots from the crown.
3. Western Mugwort (Artemisia ludoviciana 'Valerie Finniss')
This stunning silver beauty is known as the Western Mugwort. Many artemisias make beautiful garden plants, where their silver, fragrant foliage will produce eye-catching contrasts to other ornamental leaves like that of the purple Heuchera.
The plant I recommend is Artemisia ludoviciana 'Valerie Finniss'. Grow this plant in full sun in well-drained soil. It's hardy to -4˚F (-20˚C).
Western Mugwort Maintenance and Care
Unlike many other artemisias, this one doesn't get woody, so the only maintenance is to cut back to the base in spring.
Purple, succulent green or silver—which of these foliage plants appeals to you? Whichever you choose, may it bring you and your garden happiness.
More Wonderful Foliage Plants to Consider
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Rachel Darlington