Dark purple leaf plant

Guidelines for Using Plants with Colored Foliage

Traditional gardening rules suggest that when you use plants with colorful foliage, use them sparingly. Avoid using too much color and use lots of green to blend and soften. But, when you set out to create a garden of color using foliage, you have to rely more on the colors of the foliage than that of the flowers. Flowers, as nice as they are, come and go, but foliage remains constant. So break the rules. Use masses of the same brightly colored foliage plants in groups of three, five, seven, nine, or more. The effect will be show stopping. But, in order to keep the design from becoming garish, here are a few rules that you should try and follow.

A Passion for Purple

Purple, bronze, red, and black leaves have a common thread of red pigment. Bronze leaves can be very dull and muddy looking. But if they are planted so that the sun lights them from the side or from behind, the resulting effect is one of a plant that shimmers with highlights of red. Purple-bronze leaved lants are also excellent companions with blue-gray plants. Plants with #147;black” leaves stand out when paired with yellow or red leaved plants.

Golden Plants

Plants with gold or yellow foliage tend to mimic the strong rays of the sun when planted in mass or “dropped” into a planting. Yellow hued leaves will “warm up” a garden and when paired with orange or red leaved plants, cause them to “burn” with intense color. Yellow leaved plants are also compatible with purple leaved plants and blue flowers.

The Silver Lining

Silver-white or blue-gray leaves reflect light and act as “blenders” because they go with most other colors. Silver foliage makes a punctuation type of statement when used with hot colors like red, orange, or gold. White foliage also lightens up dark corners of a garden and is visible in the garden at night.

Wild and Crazy Leaves

Variegated leaved plants offer endless patterns that can be subtle or extremely gaudy and wildly colorful. These irregular patterns can be very complex with the variegations being speckles, spots, blotches, swirls, or lines. Many times, two or more colors are present making them difficult to use. Some leaves even break the color rules and have both warm and cool colors on the same leaf. To use these plants effectively, pick up one color of the leaf and use that color when choosing companion plants.

Color Echoes

Plants with colorful foliage are often used as specimen plants and are allowed to stand alone. Such plants can also be used in groups with other plants if planted next to or with plants that have a similar color in its leaves. This echoing effect, repeating a similar color in different plants, can be used to good effect even when the plants have colors that scream.

Contrasting Texture and Shape

Using plants with contrasting leaf colors, shapes, and texture can make an interesting combination. Avoid using leaves of the same size and texture next to each other. Create textural contrast so the coarse textures will seem coarser and the fine textures seem finer. Texture can also create spatial illusions. Coarse textured plants will appear closer to the viewer and fine textured plants will tend to recede or appear farther away. If you want to make the far end of the garden seem closer, plant coarse textured plants. Fine textured plants can be used to make a shallow garden seem deeper.

Best Plants for Colorful Foliage

Add Curb Appeal with Leafy Plants

Next time you hit the local garden center, think leaves. Flowers may come and go as the growing season wears on, but foliage remains vibrant nearly nonstop.

“People often don’t realize that foliage plants present a kaleidoscope of color possibilities, from gold and chartreuse to blue-green, red, burgundy, purple, and nearly black,” says gardening expert Nancy J. Ondra, author of Foliage: Astonishing Color and Texture Beyond Flowers. Some plants have leaves of a single color; others are variegated with stripes or spots. Leaves may be soft and round, straight and spiky, big, medium, or little. In other words, you can get almost any look you imagine. Focusing on foliage can trim time and trouble from your yard work as well.

TOH Tip: Some foliage plants do produce flowers, which you can leave or clip. Removing flower stalks when they’re still small produces minimal garden waste and keeps leaves more lush, since all the plant’s energy goes into them. This also prevents plants from forming seeds, so you don’t have to worry about unwelcome offspring.

Nine Building Blocks of a Foliage Garden

Here are a handful of reliable perennials that will grow in most areas of the country. There are varieties of each that will give your garden a wide range of colors, shapes, and textures.

Canna

Canna x generalis

Though most cannas are grown for their flowers, try cultivars with showy tropical-looking leaves that range from nearly black to green striped with gold. ‘Phasion’ and ‘Durban’ have purple leaves streaked with orange. Full sun; 4 to 6 feet tall. Hardy to 5 degrees F if roots are well mulched in winter.

Start planning your new garden! Our Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help.

Pigsqueak

Photo by Kurt Steuber/GNU

Bergenia

Ground-hugging rosettes of large paddle-shaped glossy-green leaves, with pink flowers in spring and sometimes in fall. Foliage lasts through winter except in the coldest climates. Cut back or divide regularly to keep plants from becoming leggy. Partial to full shade; 12 to 18 inches tall. Hardy to -40 degrees F.

Start planning your new garden! Our Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help.

Black Mondo Grass

Photo by Forest and Kim Star/CC

Ophiopogon planiscapus

A type of lily with leaves resembling inky black grass. Makes a dramatic contrast with the dark green leaves of standard mondo grass (O. japonicus). Partial to full shade; 6 to 12 inches tall. Hardy to -10 degrees F.

Start planning your new garden! Our Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help.

Plantain Lily

Photo by <a href=”http://www.mooseyscountrygarden.com/” target=”_blank”>Moosey’s Country Garden</a>

Hosta

A popular shade plant for borders. Mounds of showy leaves shaped like hearts, lances, ovals, or circles, with textures from smooth to crinkled, glossy to matte. Colors include green, yellow, and gray-blue; many with variegation. Partial shade; 15 to 36 inches tall. Some hardy to -40 degrees F.

Start planning your new garden! Our Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help.

Lambs’ Ears

Photo by <a href=”http://www.mooseyscountrygarden.com/” target=”_blank”>Moosey’s Country Garden</a>

Stachys byzantina

Fuzzy gray-green leaves; insignificant pink flowers in late spring or early summer draw bees and butterflies. Clip flowers to prevent spreading; can be invasive in some areas. Full sun to partial shade; 6 to 12 inches tall. Hardy to -30 degrees F.

Start planning your new garden! Our Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help.

Japanese Painted Fern

Photo by Stan Shebs/GNU

Athyrium niponicum

Silver-green leaves or green leaves sometimes streaked with purple. Unlike variegated plants that become mostly green in shade, these retain their silvery color. They grow even on windy sites with poor soil. Partial to full shade; 12 to 18 inches tall. Hardy to -30 degrees F.

Start planning your new garden! Our Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help.

Dusty Miller

Photo by Opiola Jerzy

Senecio cineraria

Drought tolerant, with silver fernlike leaves that have a velvety texture. Clipping the insignificant yellow flowers encourages better leaf growth. Can be grown as an annual in cold climates, then propagated from cuttings indoors over the winter. Full sun; 6 to 12 inches tall. Hardy to 10 degrees F.

Start planning your new garden! Our Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help.

Japanese Forest Grass

Photo by Cillas/GNU

Hakonechloa macra

Green, gold, or variegated leaves that arch gracefully. Clumps spread by underground runners but are not considered invasive. The most popular variety, ‘Aureola,’ reaches about 2 feet tall and has green leaves with yellow stripes in sun, chartreuse stripes in shade. Sun to partial shade; 14 to 36 inches tall. Hardy to -25 degrees F.

Start planning your new garden! Our Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help.

Coral Bells

Photo by <a href=”http://www.mooseyscountrygarden.com/” target=”_blank”>Moosey’s Country Garden</a>

Heuchera sanguinea

Many new varieties have frilly or scalloped leaves in bold colors. All varieties need good drainage. The orange H. villosa ‘Caramel’ thrives in high humidity. Full sun (in cool climates) to partial shade; 8 to 24 inches tall. Some hardy to -40 degrees F.

Start planning your new garden! Our Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help.

Three Standout Annuals

Photo by Evan Herk/GNU

Great for filling an empty spot in the yard—and fun to change out from one year to the next—these annuals showcase some extraordinary foliage. Mix them into beds and borders or pot them up for some stunning containers.

Castor Bean

Ricinus communis

Tropical-looking green-to-burgundy lobed leaves up to 18 inches wide. Not for yards where small children play, as all parts are poisonous. Full sun; up to 10 feet tall.

Start planning your new garden! Our Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help.

Summer Poinsettia

Photo by Kurt Steuber/GNU

Amaranthus tricolor

This got its nickname because the top leaves on some types turn brilliant red. Others are yellow or splashed in green and red. Full sun; 36 to 48 inches tall.

Start planning your new garden! Our Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help.

Coleus

Photo by <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/” target=”_blank”>Rufino Osorio</a>

Solenostemon scutellarioides

A tropical perennial with leaves from yellow to purple; treated as an annual in most parts of the country. Most varieties like partial shade, but some prefer full sun; 12 to 36 inches tall.

Start planning your new garden! Our Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help.

If your favorite color is purple, then spruce up your yard with purple shrubs. You can find great choices that will help you create a privacy row at your home to block your neighbor’s landscaping. You can also use them to edge your walkway or other areas.

Many choices also make a great backdrop behind your flowerbeds. Most of the plants on our list require very little care making them a great choice for people with busy lifestyles.

If you have been considering purple shrubs, then this guide is for you as it contains popular choices and a little information on each one to guide you in your hunt for the right purple shrub.

Butterfly Bush

Butterfly bushes are hardy to zone 5, and if you live south of zone 8, then they will stay evergreen throughout the year. These shrubs need full sun and prefer well-drained soil. Adult butterflies love to feed on these plants that grow to be about 10 feet tall and 10 feet wide. You will find several colors available ranging from plum to lilac. This shrub produces many tiny flowers on long-spiked trusses.

Rhododendron

These acid-loving shrubs thrive from zones 4 to 9. There are a variety of different choices available with some being more like a tree while others are short. Therefore, make sure to choose a shrub-like rhododendron. When choosing your rhododendron shrub, keep in mind those with tiny leaves do best in full sun while those with larger leaves do best in filtered light or partial shade. Even when not blooming this evergreen shrub attracts attention for its beautiful rounded form.

Golden Dewdrops

While golden dewdrops can be grown as a smaller plant in the north, they often make great shrubs for those living in zones 9 to 11. When grown as a shrub, they can reach up to 6 feet in height and width. If you want to see plenty of purple flowers, then plant this shrub in full sun, however, it will tolerate partial shade. This tropical native does well with heavy pruning allowing you to create the shape you desire.

Hydrangea

You can find hydrangeas that grow well from zone 3 to 8, but you need to choose the variety based on where you live. While these foundation shrubs are great for shady areas in your yard, they bloom more bountifully when they get at least four hours of sunlight daily. They cannot stand wet feet, so plant them in an area that drains very well. Give your hydrangea a long soaking drink of water at least once a week in warmer weather.

Bougainvillea

Bougainvilleas are a tropical vining shrub that grows in zones 9 to 11. You can find shrubs that have single blooms while others have double blooms. These versatile shrubs need something to grow on to help them stay upright. They are easily trainable, and their prolific blooms in the spring make it worth the effort to grow this shrub. Be careful not to disturb the root ball when planting this purple shrub. Keep this plant a little dry, and it will put on even more flowers.

Lilacs

Depending on the variety, lilacs can be grown from zone 3 to 9. The great news is that this shrub requires very little care, and it will reward you with beautiful purple flowers in the spring. Plant them in slightly alkaline soil in an area where they will get at least six hours of sunlight daily. Lilacs usually do best when planted in the fall. Most varieties need to go dormant in the winter. While the light purple shade is the most popular, different shades of purple lilacs are available.

Weigela

In zones 3 to 8, Weigela makes a great border or specimen shrub. While this shrub blooms from mid-spring to mid-fall, its creamy green variegated leaves are also very attractive. It seldom grows to be taller than 6 feet with 4 feet being very common. Most will spread out to be about 5 feet wide. There are varieties with a 12-foot spread. This shrub has been around for many years making it a favorite for historic properties.

Crape Myrtle

Crape Myrtle are generally cold hardy to zone 7, and they love the heat until zone 10. They can even be grown in zone 5 as a woody sub-shrub. Plant crape myrtles in acidic soil and prune them in the fall to help them thrive. Choose an area for your purple crape myrtle where it gets the sun all day long. This shrub produces many tiny purple flowers every spring.

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A Passion for Purple Foliage Plants

I must confess – I have this thing for purple-leaved plants. As options for purple foliage plants have expanded over the years, my love for them has only grown. Adding a purple tree, shrub, perennial, annual, or even an herb or vegetable to the landscape is sure to stand out against the green leaved plants in the landscape. If you think you might like adding a few purple foliage plants to your landscape, below are several that perform well in Iowa.

Trees

Purple-leaf Japanese Maple

‘Crimson King’, ‘Royal Red’, and ‘Crimson Sentry’ are popular Norway maple (Acer platanoides) cultivars with purple foliage. The purple leaved cultivars grow rather slowly, but may eventually reach a height of 40-60 feet. All Norway maples may reseed and become invasive in nearby natural areas.

Crabapples, such as ‘Orange Crush’, ‘Prairiefire’, ‘Purple Prince’, and Royal Raindrops™ are small, ornamental trees. Their purplish new growth makes them stand out in the landscape. In addition to their colorful foliage, crabapples have attractive flowers in spring and showy fruit in fall. Crabapples vary in habit, and they range in mature height from 12 to 25 feet. Many possess good disease resistance.

Purple Beech (Fagus sylvatica cultivars) and Purple-leaf Japanese Maples (Acer palmatum or A. japonicum cultivars) complete my list of woody plants with purple foliage for Iowa. All of these are excellent, slow-growing trees in the landscape. These small trees are more site-specific than the other trees mentioned, requiring a protected site in partial shade and moist, fertile soils that are well drained. They are also expensive and not reliably hardy for northern Iowa.

Shrubs

Prized for its white to pale pink spring flowers and reddish purple foliage, purple sandcherry (Prunus x cisterna) was widely plant in past years. Unfortunately, purple sandcherry often experiences dieback and is often short-lived. Red filbert (Corylus maxima ‘Atropurpurea’) and smokebush (Continus coggygria) are great alternatives to sand cherry. The red filbert grows from 8-12 feet tall and produces an edible nut. Smokebush is a 10- to 15-foot-tall, multi-stemmed shrub with feathery, smoke-like “flowers” in summer. Cultivars like ‘Royal Purple’ and ‘Velvet Cloak’ command attention in and out of bloom. In harsh winters Smokebush may die back to the ground only to recover the following summer with 5 feet of new growth.

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is 5- to 8-foot tall shrub with edible purple-black fruit. Several cultivars of elderberry, such as Black Beauty™ or Black Lace™, are noted for their purple foliage. Plants prefer partial shade, and moist, well-drained soils. Plants may spread by root suckers.

For adaptable, hard-to-kill shrubs with purple foliage consider ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius), weigela (Weigela florida), or barberry (Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea). Ninebark cultivars such as ‘Diablo’, Little Devil™, and Summer Wine™ have clusters of flat-topped pinkish white flowers in spring followed by dark burgundy-purple leaves during the summer. Cultivars range in height from 3 to 10 feet tall. Ninebark is also noted for its attractive exfoliating bark in winter. Weigela cultivars like Wine and Roses™, Midnight Wine™, Fine Wine™, or ‘Dark Horse’ are noted for their showy pink flowers in spring and purple foliage in summer. Plants typically grow from 2 to10 feet tall in Iowa landscapes. Barberry cultivars like ‘Crimson Pygmy’, ‘Helmond Pillar’, ‘Rosy Glow’, ‘Royal Cloak’, and Royal Burgundy™ add both color and thorns to the landscape. Barberries range in height from 2 to 6 feet tall.

Coral Bells (Heuchera) ‘Petite Pearl Fairy’

Perennials

Wonderful perennials with burgundy to purple foliage include: ‘Chocolate’ Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium), ‘Chameleon’ spurge (Euphorbia dulcis), and several cultivars of snakeroot (Actaea racemosa) and red-leaf rose mallows (Hibiscus hybrids). ‘Chocolate’ Joe-Pye Weed and the black snakeroots have white blooms in late summer or fall. Both prefer partial shade and moist soils. ‘Chocolate’ Joe-Pye Weed grows 3 feet tall. ‘Brunette’, ‘Atropurpurea’, ‘Hillside Black Beauty’, ‘Black Negligee’ or ‘Chocoholic’ are highly prized burgundy-black leaved cultivars of snakeroot that grow 3 to 6 feet tall. ‘Chameleon’ Spurge is a rounded plant that reaches 12 to 18 inches tall and performs best in full sun. It produces yellow-green flowers in spring and tends to reseed. Rose mallows with purple foliage include ‘Kopper King’, ‘Mahogany Splendor’, ‘Midnight Marvel’, and ‘Red Shield’. Rose mallows are also noted for their attractive pink, red, or white flowers in summer. Plants prefer full sun with moist soils and range in height from 3 to 8 feet.

For something smaller in size, there are hundreds of red, burgundy, purple to almost black foliage cultivars of Coral Bells (Heuchera hybrids) available to home gardeners. ‘Palace Purple’, ‘Dark Secret’, ‘Pewter Veil’, ‘Frosted Violet’, ‘Obsidian’, and ‘Plum Pudding’ are just a few with variations of purple, silver, and undulating leaf edges readily available for Iowa landscapes. Coral bells prefer partial shade and well-drained soils and range in heights from 6 to 20 inches.

Groundcovers with burgundy to purple foliage include ‘Chocolate Chip’ and ‘Black Scallop’ bugleweed (Ajuga reptans), ‘Morchen’ and ‘Vera Jameson’ stonecrop (Sedum species and hybrids), and red to burgundy forms of hens-and-chicks (Sempervivum). Tender perennials such as ‘Australia’ and ‘Red Futurity’ Canna, ‘Black Magic’ and ‘Black Beauty’ Colocasia, and ‘Bishop of Llandaff’ Dahlias are also noted for their dark foliage.

Coleus ‘Plum Parfait’

Annuals

Castor Beans (Ricinus communis) and Joseph’s Coat (Amaranthus tricolor) are the largest (5 to 10 feet tall in Iowa gardens) of the annuals with purple foliage cultivars worthy of mention. Look for ‘New Zealand Purple’ or ‘Red Spire’ for dark foliage colors of castor bean. However, beware of castor bean as all parts are poisonous (when eaten) to people and pets. Joseph’s coat cultivars like ‘Illumination’ and ‘Molton Fire’ have showy burgundy-purple to pink-purple leaves. Plant may reach a height of 4-6 feet when planted in fertile, moist, well-drained soils.

Coleus and some ornamental grasses add interest to containers and annual plantings in the landscape. There are numberous cultivars of coleus with purple, red, burgundy, or even almost black foliage. Some cultivars that may be available at local garden centers include ‘Black Prince’, ‘Wizard Chocolate’, and ColorBlaze Marooned™. The linear leaves of ornamental grasses, such as purple fountain grass (Pennisetum sectaceum ‘Rubrum’) or New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax) provide texture and contrast with the more rounded leaves of other plants.

For a more groundcover or trailing type habit, consider sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas) or calico plant (Alternanthera dentata). Purple foliage forms of the trailing sweet potato vine include ‘Blackie’, ‘Blackberry Heart’, or ‘Midnight Lace’. ‘Purple Knight’ is a popular burgundy-purple foliage form of the calico plant.

Persian shield plants have striking purple foliage.

Persian shield (Stobilanthes dyerianus) and wandering jew (Tradescantia pallida) are commonly grown as houseplants, but they too could be used in containers for their attractive purple foliage. ‘Purple Heart’ or ‘Purple Queen’ are two readily available cultivars of the trailing jew.

Herbs and vegetables

There are also a few herbs and vegetables with purple foliage, like ‘Purple

Ruffles’ or ‘Red Rubin’ Basil, Purple leaf garden sage (Salvia officinalis ‘Atropurpurea’), ‘Bulls’ Blood’ Beet, ‘Black Pearl’ ornamental pepper, and ‘Redbor’ Kale. These attractive and edible plants make great additions to vegetable gardens, containers, and even sunny spots in the landscape.

Consider planting a few of these colorful foliage plants to add a little purple passion to your landscape.

Next time you hit the local garden center, think leaves. Flowers may come and go as the growing season wears on, but foliage remains vibrant nearly nonstop.

“People often don’t realize that foliage plants present a kaleidoscope of color possibilities, from gold and chartreuse to blue-green, red, burgundy, purple, and nearly black,” says gardening expert Nancy J. Ondra, author of Foliage: Astonishing Color and Texture Beyond Flowers. Some plants have leaves of a single color; others are variegated with stripes or spots. Leaves may be soft and round, straight and spiky, big, medium, or little. In other words, you can get almost any look you imagine. Focusing on foliage can trim time and trouble from your yard work as well.

TOH Tip: Some foliage plants do produce flowers, which you can leave or clip. Removing flower stalks when they’re still small produces minimal garden waste and keeps leaves more lush, since all the plant’s energy goes into them. This also prevents plants from forming seeds, so you don’t have to worry about unwelcome offspring.

Here are a handful of reliable perennials that will grow in most areas of the country. There are varieties of each that will give your garden a wide range of colors, shapes, and textures.

Canna

Canna x generalis

Though most cannas are grown for their flowers, try cultivars with showy tropical-looking leaves that range from nearly black to green striped with gold. ‘Phasion’ and ‘Durban’ have purple leaves streaked with orange. Full sun; 4 to 6 feet tall. Hardy to 5 degrees F if roots are well mulched in winter.

Start planning your new garden! Our Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help.

Photo by Kurt Steuber/GNU

Bergenia

Ground-hugging rosettes of large paddle-shaped glossy-green leaves, with pink flowers in spring and sometimes in fall. Foliage lasts through winter except in the coldest climates. Cut back or divide regularly to keep plants from becoming leggy. Partial to full shade; 12 to 18 inches tall. Hardy to -40 degrees F.

Start planning your new garden! Our Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help.

Photo by Forest and Kim Star/CC

Ophiopogon planiscapus

A type of lily with leaves resembling inky black grass. Makes a dramatic contrast with the dark green leaves of standard mondo grass (O. japonicus). Partial to full shade; 6 to 12 inches tall. Hardy to -10 degrees F.

Start planning your new garden! Our Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help.

Photo by <a href=”http://www.mooseyscountrygarden.com/” target=”_blank”>Moosey’s Country Garden</a>

Hosta

A popular shade plant for borders. Mounds of showy leaves shaped like hearts, lances, ovals, or circles, with textures from smooth to crinkled, glossy to matte. Colors include green, yellow, and gray-blue; many with variegation. Partial shade; 15 to 36 inches tall. Some hardy to -40 degrees F.

Start planning your new garden! Our Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help.

Photo by <a href=”http://www.mooseyscountrygarden.com/” target=”_blank”>Moosey’s Country Garden</a>

Stachys byzantina

Fuzzy gray-green leaves; insignificant pink flowers in late spring or early summer draw bees and butterflies. Clip flowers to prevent spreading; can be invasive in some areas. Full sun to partial shade; 6 to 12 inches tall. Hardy to -30 degrees F.

Start planning your new garden! Our Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help.

Photo by Stan Shebs/GNU

Athyrium niponicum

Silver-green leaves or green leaves sometimes streaked with purple. Unlike variegated plants that become mostly green in shade, these retain their silvery color. They grow even on windy sites with poor soil. Partial to full shade; 12 to 18 inches tall. Hardy to -30 degrees F.

Start planning your new garden! Our Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help.

Photo by Opiola Jerzy

Senecio cineraria

Drought tolerant, with silver fernlike leaves that have a velvety texture. Clipping the insignificant yellow flowers encourages better leaf growth. Can be grown as an annual in cold climates, then propagated from cuttings indoors over the winter. Full sun; 6 to 12 inches tall. Hardy to 10 degrees F.

Start planning your new garden! Our Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help.

Photo by Cillas/GNU

Hakonechloa macra

Green, gold, or variegated leaves that arch gracefully. Clumps spread by underground runners but are not considered invasive. The most popular variety, ‘Aureola,’ reaches about 2 feet tall and has green leaves with yellow stripes in sun, chartreuse stripes in shade. Sun to partial shade; 14 to 36 inches tall. Hardy to -25 degrees F.

Start planning your new garden! Our Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help.

Photo by <a href=”http://www.mooseyscountrygarden.com/” target=”_blank”>Moosey’s Country Garden</a>

Heuchera sanguinea

Many new varieties have frilly or scalloped leaves in bold colors. All varieties need good drainage. The orange H. villosa ‘Caramel’ thrives in high humidity. Full sun (in cool climates) to partial shade; 8 to 24 inches tall. Some hardy to -40 degrees F.

Start planning your new garden! Our Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help.

Photo by Evan Herk/GNU

Great for filling an empty spot in the yard—and fun to change out from one year to the next—these annuals showcase some extraordinary foliage. Mix them into beds and borders or pot them up for some stunning containers.

Castor Bean

Ricinus communis

Tropical-looking green-to-burgundy lobed leaves up to 18 inches wide. Not for yards where small children play, as all parts are poisonous. Full sun; up to 10 feet tall.

Start planning your new garden! Our Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help.

Photo by Kurt Steuber/GNU

Amaranthus tricolor

This got its nickname because the top leaves on some types turn brilliant red. Others are yellow or splashed in green and red. Full sun; 36 to 48 inches tall.

Start planning your new garden! Our Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help.

Photo by <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/” target=”_blank”>Rufino Osorio</a>

Solenostemon scutellarioides

A tropical perennial with leaves from yellow to purple; treated as an annual in most parts of the country. Most varieties like partial shade, but some prefer full sun; 12 to 36 inches tall.

Start planning your new garden! Our Interactive Plant Hardiness Zone Map can help.

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