Create Your Dream Garden with Plants That Have Large Leaves

As gardeners, we often focus our attention on flowering plants, but there are many other stunning options that deserve a place in our gardens. If you’re looking to add structure, texture, and a touch of the exotic to your garden, then plants with large leaves are the answer.

These foliage plants are attention-grabbing and make a statement, bringing a luscious and tropical feel to any garden. Even if you have a small garden, there are plenty of options that can make a significant impact without overwhelming the space.

Add a taste of the tropics to your garden

“Large-leaved plants provide a lush feel to gardens,” says Master Horticulturist Colin Skelly. By combining them with bold-colored foliage and flowers like dahlias, cannas, and crocosmias, you can create the illusion of being in a different country, even in small spaces.

To help you choose the right plants for your garden, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite foliage plants with large leaves. These plants will add drama, structure, and beauty to your garden, creating a tropical paradise.

1) Japanese Banana

Japanese Banana plants in a British garden with a wall in the background

  • Botanical Name: Musa basjoo
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous Perennial
  • Hardiness Rating: H2
  • Typical Height / Spread: 4m x 2m
  • Preferred Aspect: Full Sun; Sheltered

With its majestic presence, the Japanese Banana will transport you to the set of A Jungle Book. This tropical treasure produces huge, elegant leaves and may even reward you with bunches of bananas. Plant it in well-drained soil and a sheltered spot that receives plenty of sunshine. Prune it in spring and provide generous watering and feeding for the best foliage.

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2) Plantain Lily

Beautiful hosta leaves in a park

  • Botanical Name: Hosta
  • Plant Type: Herbaceous Perennial
  • Hardiness Rating: H7
  • Typical Height / Spread: 1m x 1m
  • Preferred Aspect: Part Shade; Sheltered

The Plantain Lily is a popular plant loved by gardeners for its fantastic foliage. With a wide variety of leaf colors ranging from green to blue and vibrant yellow, there’s a hosta for every garden. Some hostas can reach up to 40cm in length. They also produce lovely purple or white flowers in summer. Plant them in moist soil in a shady spot, and they’ll reward you with years of stunning foliage.

3) Elephant Ear / Taro

Large, showy colocasia plants in a garden

  • Botanical Name: Colocasia
  • Plant Type: Evergreen Perennial
  • Hardiness Rating: H1B
  • Typical Height / Spread: 2m x 1m
  • Preferred Aspect: Part Shade; Sheltered

The Elephant Ear plant is an exotic beauty with colossal heart-shaped green leaves. It’s perfect as a ground cover or as a textured backdrop for other plants. Plant it in rich, moist soil in partial sun, and it will thrive. Keep it well watered and protect it from freezing temperatures in harsh winters.

4) Chinese Rice Paper Plant

Chinese Rice Paper Plant with broad leaves

  • Botanical Name: Tetrapanax papyrifer ‘Rex’
  • Plant Type: Shrub
  • Hardiness Rating: H4
  • Typical Height / Spread: 6m x 6m
  • Preferred Aspect: Full Sun; Sheltered

If you’re looking for a gargantuan plant to make a statement in your garden, the Chinese Rice Paper Plant is the one. It boasts broad leaves that can grow up to 60cm in length. This hardy evergreen is a perfect addition to an exotic-themed garden. Plant it in well-drained soil in a sunny or partially shaded spot and provide a deep layer of mulch during winter. Prune it as needed, and it will reward you with texture, structure, and cream-colored flowers in autumn.

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5) Angel’s Trumpet

Angel's trumpet flower in focus with green leaves in the background

  • Botanical Name: Brugmansia
  • Plant Type: Shrub
  • Hardiness Rating: H1C
  • Typical Height / Spread: 4m x 2m
  • Preferred Aspect: Full Sun; Sheltered

Also known as Brugmansia, the Angel’s Trumpet is a perfect addition to a jumbo jungle-themed garden. Its stunning foliage and glorious, fragrant, trumpet-shaped flowers create a tropical spectacle from summer to autumn. Plant it in containers in a warm and sheltered area with partial shade. Water and feed it frequently during summer and protect it from the cold in winter. Place it in a focal point to showcase its beauty and grace.

Bring Your Garden to Life

These are just a few examples of the many large leaf foliage plants that can transform your garden into a lush and exotic paradise. Each plant brings its own unique charm and appeal. Do some research to find the plants that best suit your garden’s needs and space.

Tropical garden space with large leaf plants and a swinging garden bench

Creating a garden with large leaf plants requires careful planning, but the results are worth it. Your garden will boast an extravagant and vibrant look that will captivate anyone who sees it. So be bold, be brave, and bring a touch of the tropics to your own backyard.

For more inspiration and information, visit Ames Farm Center and start creating your dream garden today.