Transform Your Outdoor Space with These 15 Striking Leafy Plants

Are you tired of focusing solely on flowering plants in your garden? It’s time to broaden your horizons and add some drama and texture. Large leaf foliage plants can transform your outdoor space into a tropical paradise or a lush jungle. These attention-grabbing plants make a bold statement and bring an exotic feel to any garden, regardless of its size.

Embrace the Leafy Wonder

“People often overlook large-leaved plants, but they provide a lush feel to gardens,” says Master Horticulturist Colin Skelly. “Combined with bold-colored foliage and flowers like dahlias, cannas, and crocosmias, your garden can transport you to a different country.”

Explore the Possibilities

If you’re unsure which large leaf plants to choose, don’t worry. We’ve compiled a list of our top contenders to inspire you and help narrow down your options. Let’s dive into the leafy world of these remarkable plants.

1) Japanese Banana

Imagine stepping into the set of A Jungle Book with this majestic plant in your garden. The Japanese Banana, also known as Musa Basjoo, produces elegant, gigantic leaves and occasionally even rewards you with bunches of bananas. This herbaceous perennial thrives in well-drained soil and enjoys a sunny, sheltered spot in your garden. With proper care, it can reach heights of up to 4m.

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

2) Plantain Lily

Hostas, also known as Plantain Lily, are beloved for their fantastic foliage. Available in various colors, from green to blue to vibrant yellow, these herbaceous perennials add a touch of elegance to any garden. Some hostas boast leaves up to 40cm long and bloom with purple or white flowers in summer. They thrive in moist soil and prefer a shady spot away from direct sunlight.

Beautiful hosta leaves in a park

3) Elephant Ear / Taro

With its colossal heart-shaped leaves, the Elephant Ear plant, also known as Colocasia, is a showstopper in any garden. These evergreen perennials serve as excellent ground cover or create a textured backdrop for other plants. Plant them in rich, moist soil in partial shade, providing proper drainage. During dry spells, make sure to water more frequently, and consider using fertilizer. In regions with freezing temperatures, it’s best to dig them up and overwinter them indoors.

Large, showy colocasia plants in a garden

4) Chinese Rice Paper Plant

For a true garden giant, the Chinese Rice Paper Plant, scientifically known as Tetrapanax papyrifer ‘Rex,’ will take your breath away. Its enormous leaves, reaching up to 60cm in length, make it a standout plant. This hardy shrub adds an exotic touch with its cream-colored flowers in autumn. Plant it in full sun or partial shade, in well-drained soil, and provide protection from cold winds. Mulching during winter months helps protect it from frost.

Chinese Rice Paper Plant with broad leaves

5) Angel’s Trumpet

Also known as Brugmansia, the Angel’s Trumpet plant is a perfect addition to a jumbo jungle-themed garden. Its graceful foliage and fragrant, trumpet-shaped flowers create a captivating tropical spectacle. These shrubs should be grown individually in containers, placed in a warm, sheltered area with partial shade. Angel’s Trumpet prefers frequent watering and feeding during summer months, as it dislikes dry conditions. Protect it from the cold by moving it indoors during winter.

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

6) Giant Rhubarb

Gunnera manicata, commonly known as Giant Rhubarb, adds a touch of drama to any garden. Its oversized foliage can reach heights of 2.5m, creating an impressive presence. This herbaceous perennial thrives in full sun or partial shade. Its bold leaves make a striking statement wherever they are planted.

Huge foliage of giant rhubarb plant

7) Giant Butterbur

Petasites japonicus, or Giant Butterbur, is a herbaceous perennial that thrives in full shade or partial shade. With its large leaves, reaching a height of 1.5m and a spread of up to 8m, it adds a touch of grandeur to woodland gardens.

Giant Butterbur plants under tree canopy

8) Umbrella Plant

Darmera peltata, also known as Umbrella Plant, is an excellent choice for moist areas of your garden. This herbaceous perennial thrives in full sun or partial shade. Its large, attractive leaves and delicate pink flowers make it a standout addition to any landscape.

Groundcover umbrella plants with dark green foliage

9) Broussa Mullein

Verbascum bombyciferum, or Broussa Mullein, is a herbaceous perennial that stands tall and proud in full sun. Its gray foliage and striking yellow flowers command attention, making it a stunning addition to any garden.

Flowering Verbascum bombyciferum with grey foliage

10) Greater Sea Kale

Crambe cordifolia, or Greater Sea Kale, is a herbaceous perennial that thrives in full sun or partial shade. Its impressive height of 2m and spread of 1.5m make it a striking focal point in any garden.

Greater sea kale plant growing tall in a garden

11) Siberian Bugloss

Brunnera macrophylla, commonly known as Siberian Bugloss, boasts variegated leaves and delicate blue flowers. It prefers shady spots and adds a touch of elegance to any garden.

Blue flowering siberian bugloss with variegated leaves

12) Chusan Palm

Trachycarpus fortunei, or Chusan Palm, adds a touch of the exotic with its large, fan-shaped leaves. These palm trees thrive in full sun or partial shade and make a stunning statement in your garden.

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Chusan palms growing in a large outdoor area

13) Castor Oil Plant

Ricinus communis ‘Carmencita,’ also known as the Castor Oil Plant, showcases purple foliage and striking red blooms. This shrub thrives in full sun and adds a touch of drama to any garden.

Castor oil plant with purple foliage and red blooms

14) Leopard Plant

Ligularia, or Leopard Plant, is a herbaceous perennial that thrives in full sun or partial shade. Its unique foliage and yellow flowers add a touch of the exotic to any landscape.

Close up of leopard plant (lingularia) foliage

15) Canna Lily

Canna, or Canna Lily, is a tender perennial that boasts vibrant red flowers. These tall plants thrive in full sun and provide a striking focal point in any garden.

Red flowering canna lilies growing tall

Create Your Own Tropical Oasis

Now that you’ve been acquainted with our top fifteen leafy plants, it’s time to unleash your creativity and transform your outdoor space. Remember to consider the space available for these majestic plants to thrive. Growing large leaf foliage plants might seem intimidating at first, but with proper care and attention, your garden will flourish like never before.

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

Be bold, be extra, and give your garden the tropical paradise it deserves. With these stunning plants, you can showcase your flowers and create a dynamic depth that will take your garden refuge to new levels of beauty and splendor. So let your imagination run wild, and let nature’s wonders enchant you. Visit Ames Farm Center to explore the world of large leaf foliage plants and start your journey towards a truly remarkable garden.