Plants grown for foliage typically don’t have flowers that are showy, but they do have interesting texture or leaf effects. These foliage plants can make great backgrounds for outdoor gardens or do well indoors as stand-alone plants. Whichever method you choose, these foliage plants will be sure to give you plenty of color, texture and big leafy appeal.
Spanish moss, Tillandsia usneoides, is from the bromeliad family. It is a perennial with green stems when wet and gray stems when dry. It can get 20 feet long with no roots and pale tiny flowers. It is fragrant in the night and is not a moss. Grow this one in full sun to partial shade and since there are no roots, it will receive all its moisture from rain. Propagate via seed or by fragments of plants in USDA hardiness zones of 8 to 11.
Red amaranth, Amaranthus tricolor, is an annual that has tremendous variance according to cultivar. It gets 2 to 5 feet tall with colors ranging in red, gold, bronze, yellow and green. Grow this one in full sun in a well drained soil. Propagate via the reed and grow in USDA hardiness zones of 7 to 10. The leaves are good for salads.
Dusty miller, Senecio cineraria, is from the aster/daisy family and an annual. It has silvery gray leaves that are woolly and incised. The plant gets 2 feet tall with yellow flowers 1 inch wide in terminal clusters. Grow this one in full sun in well drained soils. Propagate via seed or cuttings and grow in USDA hardiness zones of 8 to 10.
Giant taro, Alocasia macrorrhiza, is a wetland perennial that has 3 to 6 feet long leaves. The taro gets 12 to 15 feet high and 6 to 10 feet wide. Foliage is glossy and medium green in color. Grow this one in partial shade in moist well drained soils. Propagate via stem cuttings, seed, or rhizome division and grow in USDA hardiness zones of 9 to 11.
Absinthe, Artemisia absinthium, is from the aster/daisy family and is a fragrant drought-tolerant perennial. It is a clump-forming plant with silvery gray leaves with silky hairs. The plant gets 3 feet high and 2 feet wide. Flowers are dull and yellow and it is grown for its branched foliage. Grow this one in full sun or partial shade in well drained soil. Propagate via root division or semi-hardwood cuttings and grow in USDA hardiness zones of 4 to 9.
Caladium, Caladium bicolor, is a perennial that has 6 to 12 inch long leaf stems with 6 to 14 inch long leaves. Shape and size of the leaf varies with the cultivar, as does the color. The plant will spread to get 2 feet high and wide. Grow this one in partial to full shade in well drained rich soil. Propagate tuber division or seed and grow in USDA hardiness zones of 9 to 12 for winter survival.