Foamflower
Plant Type
Sunlight Amount
Credit: David McDonald
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Foamflower

Foamflower is a close cousin to coralbells, another favorite shade garden plant. While the foliage of this woodland native may not be quite as showy as coralbells, foamflower compensates with a large quantity of blossoms. In spring, these plants are loaded with spires of foamy white flowers. These trusty perennials make a good groundcover plant, as many are trailing types that form dense mats of foliage. 

genus name
  • Tiarella
light
  • Part Sun
  • Shade
plant type
height
  • 6 to 12 inches
width
  • 1 to 3 feet
flower color
foliage color
season features
problem solvers
special features
zones
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
propagation

Colorful Combinations

Appearing in airy masses, large quantities of foamflowers create quite a show in a spring garden. Foamflower is most commonly found in shades of pink and white. The blossoms typically last anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks. After the blooms fade, the dark green foliage makes an attractive backdrop for other plants. Its leaves come in a variety of shapes and colors. While some foliage is variegated, most often the leaves are lobed and deeply dissected, similar to a maple leaf.

Foamflower Care Must-Knows

Foamflower is easy to cultivate, with several species native to the United States. Foamflower prefers well-drained soil with a good amount of organic matter. While it needs well-drained soil to survive, foamflower prefers consistent moisture to thrive. However, if soil remains too wet, especially during winter periods, it is likely to rot.

While foamflower can grow in full shade, the ideal habitat includes a little sun here and there. This gives the plants the best-color foliage possible and the best blooming conditions.

Within the several species of foamflower available, there are two types: clumping and trailing/spreading. The trailing type makes an exceptional groundcover plant. As these plants grow, they create long runners that put down roots wherever they touch soil, creating dense mats of foliage that help prevent weeds. Trailing types can be divided to spread among the garden.

New Innovations

Foamflower has seen new developments in recent years. One of the most important is their ability to cross-breed with coralbells. This created the new intergeneric hybrid heucherella, also known as foamy bells. New hybrids offer many of the beneficial traits from their parents, such as showy foliage and more prolific blooms. Among new foamflower hybrids are many varieties that can be used as container plants with showy foliage and trailing stems.

More Varieties of Foamflower

Credit: Peter Krumhardt

Tiarella 'Elizabeth Oliver' makes substantial low clumps of deeply lobed leaves streaked with red veining. Its spires of pink buds open blushing white. It grows 15 inches tall and is hardy in Zones 4-8

Credit: Greg Scheidemann

Tiarella 'Heronswood Mist' bears white- and pink-specked foliage on 15-inch-tall plants. Zones 4-8

Foamflower Companion Plants

Credit: Jay Wilde

Phlox are one of those bounteous summer flowers any large sunny flowerbed or border shouldn't be without. There are several different kinds of phlox. Garden and meadow phlox produce large panicles of fragrant flowers in a wide assortment of colors. They also add height, heft, and charm to a border. Low-growing wild Sweet William, moss pinks, and creeping phlox are effective as ground covers, at the front of the border, and as rock and wild garden plants, especially in light shade. These native gems have been hybridized extensively especially to toughen the foliage against mildew problems; many recent selections are mildew-resistant. Phlox need amply moist soil for best overall health.

Credit: Lynn Karlin

One of the most elegant ferns available for your garden, Japanese painted ferns are washed with gorgeous silver and burgundy markings. Lady fern is equally elegant though not quite as showy. Either will add interest and texture to your shady spots. Closely related to each other, Japanese painted fern and lady fern are sometimes crossed with each other to create attractive hybrids. Unlike most ferns, these toughies will tolerate dry soil. And they will tolerate some sun if they have ample water.

Credit: Andre Baranowski

This elegant shade plant has gently arching stems and dangling creamy bells. Solomon's seal adds height and grace to shaded gardens in spring. It's an easy plant to grow, and will slowly colonize—even in tough areas where shallow tree roots rob moisture and nutrients. The foliage turns golden in fall.

Credit: Cameron Sadeghpour

To come across a stand of bluebells in bloom in the woods is a dream. Bluebells is among our most revered of wildflowers, perhaps because their beauty is so fleeting. Arranged in clusters, the tubular clear-blue flowers that flare at the mouth open from pink buds. Lance-shape foliage emerges purplish-brown but becomes a medium green before going dormant after bloom time. Plan to fill bluebells' place in the border. It prefers moisture-retentive soil in sun or light shade, especially at midday. Excellent with spring bulbs.

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