Foamflower – Tiarella: A Great Ground Cover for Shady Areas

Image above Courtesy Walters Gardens.

Want a different look in your shade garden? Then Foamflower is your answer. This underused, little know perennial is a perfect plant for creating a woodland garden under trees. Foamflowers grow as clumps and as spreaders so check the labels. If you need a spreader to cover over tree roots, choose Tiarella wherryi.  Wherryi blooms with creamy-pink, feathery spikes, and is so  enchanting it won the Royal Horticultural Societies Award of Garden Merit.. The clumping Tiarella or cordifolia, mounds and blooms in foamy white flower stalks and also won the same award for they are both excellent choices for filling in difficult areas in shade and over tree roots.

Foamflower’s fragrant blooms open in early spring and last into June in our cool high valley gardens. The flowers are only about eight-inches tall but the light colors of the feathery spikes bloom in mass and  are so unusual that they are attention-getters.

The demure, petite flower spikes are uncommon, but it is the foliage of Tiarella that is the main attraction. The foliage of Tiarella is so varied and colorful throughout the growing season that it fits the old saying of “Flowers are fleeting but foliage is forever.” The leaf shapes may be gently lobed or deeply cut. They grow in heart shapes, or rounded. Many of the leaves appear as a rich green suede while others are shiny and reflect light in a shade garden.  Several are splotched with colorful markings that change color as the leaves enlarge and other are dark-veined. It is a certainty that any gardener will fall in love with these hardy, zone-three delights.

foamflower foliage (Tiarella)

The best soil for Tiarella is moist but well-drained, so incorporate compost into the planting area. If Tiarella is planted over trees roots such a the scrub Oak that colonizes many of the lower mountain ranges, add a new layer of compost on a yearly basis to keep the Foamflowers at their best.

Foamflower ground cover

Foam flower’s colorful foliage is a natural accent and texture addition to perennial planters or containers. Annuals can also be added to accent the gorgeous foliage of Tiarella.

foamflower in planters or containers

Here’s a list of other companion perennials you can consider pairing with foamflower to make an excellent perennial shade garden.

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