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Foliage for Sale - Buying & Growing Guide

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Foliage – Buying & Growing Guide

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by John Haryasz | Horticulture Writer and Landscape Designer – last update on December 2, 2021

As popular as flowers are, foliage can be equally impactful in your garden. Many shrubs and bushes have astoundingly beautiful leaves. Those leaves can be evergreen or deciduous and often have intriguing color patterns while creating captivating textures.

Types of Foliage Plants

Type  Growing Zones Mature Height Sun Features

Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’

3-7 4-8 feet Full sun to part shade: 4-8 hours  Deep purple flowers with trident shape
Tatarian dogwood, Cornus alba ‘Bailhalo’ IVORY HALO 3-7 4-6 feet Full sun to part shade: 4-8 hours  Compact shrub, variegated leaves have white margins
Elephant ear, Colocasia 9-11 1-2 feet Partial shade: 2-4 hours Some of the largest leaves you’ll find
Oakleaf hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia 5-9 5-7 feet Full sun to part shade: 4-8 hours Unique leaf shape, large flower panicles, and decent fall color
Japanese pieris, Pieris japonica 4-8 10-14 feet Full sun: 6-8 hours Rounded broadleaf evergreen tree with dangling white flowers
Witchhazel, Hamamelis virginiana 5-8 15-25 feet Full sun to part shade: 4-6 hours Spider-like flowers, leaves are round with wavy edges
Adam’s needle, Yucca filamentosa 5-10  4-6 feet Full sun: 6-8 hours Spike-shaped leaves, and prominent center flower stalk

Weigela florida ‘Verweig’ MY MONET

4-8 1-2 Full sun: 6-8 hours Variegated leaves are green, white, and pink
American holly, Ilex opaca 5-9 15-30 feet Full sun to part shade: 4-8 hours Bright red fruits and evergreen leaves with sharp points
Gold dust, Aucuba japonica ‘Gold Dust’ 7-10 4-6 feet Shade: 2 hours or less Shiny green leaves have many gold flecks

How to Plant Foliage Plants

Many of the best foliage plants require specific conditions to display their most impressive leaves. Often, sunlight is among the most essential of those requirements. Be sure to plant shade-loving plants in low-light areas and any full sun plants where they can receive the light they need. 

You’ll need to meet all of your plant’s needs regarding soil moisture, acidity, and fertilization. If you are unable to meet those needs and suitably maintain foliage plants, the leaf colors may be dull and far less inspiring than you imagined. Variegated plants may lack contrast, while other leaf colors may not be as deep as they can be. 

How to Grow Foliage Plants

  • When. When planting outdoors, do so when your plants are in a dormant phase. Usually, springtime planting is best. 
  • Where. Choose a place where your foliage plant gets all the light it needs to thrive. Pair foliage plants to create an impressive foliage garden. 
  • How. Dig a planting hole with plenty of widths and an adequate depth. Then loosen the root ball of your plant and backfill with good soil. 

How to Care for Foliage Plants

  • Watering. Newly planted foliage plants need more water than usual. Once established, gauge the health of your plant’s leaves and provide water accordingly. 
  • Nutrients. If your foliage plant is not looking its best, it may not be getting the nutrients it needs. Each plant you raise will have a different preference for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
  • Pruning. Branches on the decline draw nutrients that support healthier parts of the plant. Be sure to regularly prune to keep your plant’s leaves lush.
  • Pollination. Although the main attraction to foliage plants is their leaves, many have great flowers as well. These plants typically rely on birds or insects to carry out pollination.

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