Discover the Magic of Colorful Foliage Plants

Spring and summer are known for their vibrant colors, but who says you can’t have bursts of color all year round? Imagine a garden that stays bright and colorful, no matter the season. Well, with the right selection of colorful foliage plants, you can achieve just that. These plants not only add a pop of color but also bring unique textures to your garden beds. Plus, some of them even produce lovely flowers. Let’s explore these stunning plants and find the perfect ones for your garden.

Hosta: The Classic Shady Favorite

Hostas are undoubtedly one of the most popular plants for home gardens. With their large green leaves showcasing various patterns and textures, they bring life to any shady area. For a classic hosta look, consider the ‘Minuteman’ variety, featuring deep green leaves with thick white borders. However, if you want year-round color, the ‘Fire Island’ hosta is the perfect choice. Its luminous yellow leaves keep shady spots bright and cheerful, shifting to a cooler yellow resembling chartreuse as the seasons change.


Coleus: A Colorful Sun-Loving Option

Once considered a shade-loving plant, coleus has now embraced the sun and proudly displays its vibrant colors. From solid reds, pinks, and yellows to mixes of brilliant hues, coleus brings a burst of color to any garden design. The ‘Black Dragon’ variety, with its deep burgundy leaves and ruffled edges, adds a touch of autumnal charm. For a bold statement, try the Kong series coleus with its large 6-inch leaves that cover garden beds and create vibrant focal points.


Amaranthus Tricolor: The Bold Joseph’s Coat

Known as Joseph’s coat, amaranthus tricolor is a striking plant with foliage that steals the show. Its leaves showcase a mesmerizing blend of yellows, reds, and oranges that bleed into green, creating a picturesque spectacle. Whether planted in beds or containers, this plant guarantees year-round color like no other. To bring out the best in amaranthus tricolor, make sure it receives ample sunlight.

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Amaranthus Tricolor

Ninebark: Intriguing Foliage and Delicate Flowers

Ninebark is a captivating perennial shrub that adds intrigue to any garden space. While its pink and white flowers are delightful, it is the foliage that truly stands out. The textured leaves, featuring shades of green, yellow, and dark red, create a captivating display. For those fond of dark reds and burgundy, the ‘Diablo’ variety is a perfect choice. Its pinkish-white flowers beautifully contrast against the dark and leafy background. ‘Darts Gold’ offers a brighter option, with stunning yellow-green leaves in summer and a golden appearance in spring.


Coral Bells: Subtle Beauty with Exquisite Leaves

Coral bells, also known as Heuchera, are low-growing shrubs that bring a subtle charm to any garden. Their assortment of colored leaves adds a touch of magic with shades ranging from purple to orange and golden greens. Some varieties even feature multi-colored leaves, enhancing their visual appeal. But it’s not just the bright colors that make coral bells fascinating; their textured leaves add an extra layer of interest. In summer, these plants produce sweet flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies, adding even more life to your garden.

Coral Bells

Smoke Tree: A Touch of Fall All Year Round

With its oval leaves, the smoke tree brings a touch of fall to your garden throughout the year. The purple varieties are particularly popular for their stunning foliage. ‘Redsmoke’, ‘Royal Purple’, and ‘Velvet Cloak’ feature velvety leaves with rich purple hues that perfectly complement their yellow blooms. Smoke trees thrive in well-draining soil and are tolerant of various soil pH levels. They prefer warmer, drier climates, making them ideal for USDA zones 4 to 9.

Smoke Tree

Begonia: Thousands of Varieties, Countless Colors

Begonias are beloved for their adorable flowers and glossy green leaves. However, the Begonia rex varieties offer something even more fascinating – stunning foliage. With a range of colors, from dusty greens to cool purples and deep reds, these begonias display entrancing patterns that are truly unique. Often referred to as “painted-leaf begonias,” they add a touch of tropical allure to any garden. While these foliage plants require a bit more care, their stunning shades are well worth the effort.

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Croton: A Fiery Splash of Colors

Crotons are plants that leave a lasting impression. With their fiery colors, they set any garden ablaze. ‘Gold Star’ features thin, spikey leaves dotted with yellow, adding spots of gold to your space. ‘Petra’ boasts bright oval leaves with uniquely colored veins, making a remarkable statement. To keep your crotons happy and bright during colder months, consider planting them in movable containers and bringing them indoors or to a sheltered area. Crotons thrive in bright, dappled light and moist soil.


Canna: Tropical Paradise in Your Garden

Canna lilies have long been favored for their stunning flowers and tall leaves, but some varieties take it a step further. Certain canna lily varieties showcase vibrant foliage with intriguing patterns, adding texture and lightening up your landscape. ‘Red King Humbert’ features burgundy leaves that beautifully complement its bright red flowers. ‘Louis Cotton’ boasts red edges gently fading into dark green, while ‘Cleopatra’ dazzles with purple stripes on its bright green leaves. For a touch of summer, ‘Red Stripe’ offers streaks of red, orange, and yellow on its large green leaves.

Canna Lilies

Caladium: A Colorful Twist for Green Lovers

Caladiums, also known as ‘Angel Wings’, offer a unique mix of green, pink, and white on their large leaves. Each plant showcases various splashes of colors and patterns, bringing light and life to shaded areas in your garden. These plants thrive in partial to full shade and add softness to textured beds or containers. Pair them with irises and ornamental grasses for a striking contrast, or combine them with ferns for a more harmonious design.


Dusty Miller: Adding Drama to Flower Beds

Dusty Miller disrupts big bushy flower beds with its bright silvery-white color, creating striking visual contrast. Don’t underestimate this plant by using it merely as a filler; its impact is far greater. ‘Cirrus’ features broader leaves, adding a dramatic splash of white to the base of your flower bed. On the other hand, ‘Silver Lace’ is delicate and subtle, perfect for neutralizing vibrant colors. ‘Silverardo’ is the most popular variety, with its fern-like leaves that shine silver-white and beautifully complement any color in your garden.

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Dusty Miller

Sweet Potato Vine: Texture and Summer Colors

Sweet potato vine is a versatile plant that adds texture and splashes of color to both containers and ground coverings. While it shares its name with edible sweet potatoes, its bulb is grown for its brilliantly colored foliage rather than its taste. ‘Sweet Caroline’ varieties offer foliage in shades of purple, bronze, yellow, and red, shaped like maple leaves. For fall enthusiasts, ‘Blackie’ presents striking dark purple leaves, accompanied by beautiful purple trumpet-like flowers. ‘Ragtime’ offers year-round subtle purple colors and narrower leaves, adding a unique twist to your garden beds.

Sweet Potato Vine

Cordyline: The Ti Plant with Vibrant Tropical Leaves

Cordyline, commonly known as the Ti plant, is famous for its colorful tropical leaves and the superstitions that surround it. Some varieties, like ‘Hawaiian Boy’ and ‘Florida Red’, showcase deep purples and reds that instantly catch the eye. The ‘Candy Cane’ variety resembles its namesake, with large green leaves streaked with pink and white. For an added spikiness, ‘Pink Pasion’ boasts long sword-like leaves in bright purple-pink with vibrant pink edging. Cordylines prefer plenty of sunlight to maintain their brilliant colors throughout the year.


No garden should be without splashes of color. With the foliage plants mentioned above, you can create a garden that remains bright and captivating all year round. These plants not only offer an array of colors but also bring texture and life to your outdoor space. So go ahead, embrace the magic of colorful foliage plants and transform your garden into a vibrant oasis!

Ames Farm Center