By Jodi Torpey
Foliage plants typically take a backseat to the showy flowers of summer. But when those flowers start to fade, leafy plants can take their places with ease. Although primarily used for creating a garden backdrop, foliage plants add color, texture, and interest on their own.
Coleus plants are often filler material in containers, but they can stand out in the garden. New varieties of sun coleus are easy to grow, and they keep their brilliant colors, even in bright sunlight, above. For the best show, mix the colors of coleus plants with other types of foliage plant such as purple and green coralbells (Heuchera) surrounding the coleus to the right.
Hug a Hosta
There’s nothing like hostas to help fill empty areas. These large-leaf foliage plants add interest where flowers can’t. Hostas prefer shady spaces but do well with morning sun.
A great feature about hostas is there are so many varieties! A creative approach is to mix hosta leaf sizes with other foliage plants. Combining foliage plants with different leaf shapes also makes for an especially striking display.
All Hail Kale
Ornamental kale is a versatile foliage plant. Its curly leaves come in different color combinations that grow well with ornamental flowers. Because kale is typically a hardy plant, it keeps growing when other annuals are tempted to stop.
Leaf It to Begonias
Some foliage begonias have such striking leaves, they’re planted for their shapes and patterns instead of flowers. ‘Gryphon’ is a favorite for its large, metallic, clawlike leaves that hover over bronze stems. Containers filled with these tropical-looking plants add depth to gardens that get morning sun and afternoon shade.
These foliage plants are no shrinking violets. How will you use them to spice up your summer garden?