Foliage Garden Ideas

By: the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Plants for a Foliage Garden

Hosta fortunei has dimension and color with                              its dark green leaves edged in white.
Hosta fortunei has dimension and color with its dark green leaves edged in white.

Plants for a foliage garden are incredibly varied. Not a uniform shape and shade of green, foliage comes in all shapes and sizes. From swordlike grasses to wide, round leaves, and from a thousand, intricate shades of green to red, white, and gold, foliage isn't just a backdrop for other, flashier flowers.

Whether they are part of a garden with flowering blossoms or unified in a single foliage garden, the following plants will shimmer and shine, adding luster to any landscape.


Avena Grass

This grass features silvery-blue shards of leaves, but it also produces yellow spikes of flowers in the summer.

Chinese Fountain Grass

The showering cascades of long leaves gives this grass its name.

Elephant's Ear

This colorful greenery produces huge leaves in the shape of -- what else? -- an elephant's ear.

Golden Scaled Male Fern

With its densely packed fronds, this fern is hardy and adaptable.

Hard Fern

The hard fern is one of the few plants that remains green throughout nearly the entire year.

Hosta Decorata

Native to Japan, hosta decorata produces wide, flat leaves and thrives in full or partial shade.

Hosta Fortunei

A perennial, hosta's fortunei blossoms with mauve-colored flowers in the summer.

Hosta Francee

Requiring little care, this hosta provides a burst of color in a shady area.

Hosta Sieboldiana

This hosta produces lilac-colored flowers against a backdrop of thick leaves.

Hosta Sieboldii

With its undulating, curved edges rimmed in dark green, the bright green leaves stand out.

Hosta Tardiflora

This petite hosta is often passed over for more attention-grabbing plants, but its lavender blooms are lovely.

Hosta Ventricosa

The striated leaves of this hosta are tough and glossy.

Male Fern

The lance-shaped leaves of this fern are attractive, but the fern is also toxic when ingested.


Leaves erupt from a single stalk on this plant, lending a garden a tropical air.

Northern Sea Oats

This plant is easy to care for and readily reseeds itself.

Ostrich Fern

This fern is named for its large fronds, which resemble the plumage of an ostrich.

Royal Fern

A water-lover, this fern grows in the wild along rivers and streams or wet meadows and bogs.

Tufted Hairgrass

This hardy grass grows tall with cloud-like halos on top. It's also used for grazing and is resistant to fire.

Yellow Ginger Lily

Producing fragrant blooms, the flowers of this plant are often used in Hawaiian leis.

If you think foliage is fabulous, wait until you see what else you can do with your backyard garden: