11 Foliage Only Plants that Add Spectacular Interest to Any Garden

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Flowers, with their spectacular blooms and eye-catching colors, often take the leading role in the flower bed with many people entranced by their intricate designs. However, foliage plants are often equally, if not more beautiful than their floral cousins. Here are 11 foliage-only plants that round out your garden, serve as stunning filler, and stand on their own as exquisite attractions. 


Coleus are the foliage plants that you’ll forget aren’t flowers. With their show-stopping colors and endless varieties, there’s coleus to suit every garden. These plants grow well in bright sun; however, shade varieties are also available, which only increases the versatility of this colorful foliage. 

Persian Shield

This topical native practically glows with an otherworldly iridescence. Though it will only survive as a perennial in warm planting zones, it can easily be grown as a houseplant through the winter in most other environments and propagated from clippings for more plants the next growing season. The purple and silver leaves draw you in with their distinctive glimmer, which is especially noticeable in partial shade. 


The category of plants known as artemisia encompasses a wide range of beautiful, distinctive varieties. You can choose from shrubs, annuals, perennials, and evergreens to fill any empty hole in your garden. The mounding, tendency of this plant makes it a great choice for growing along walkways. However, it is not invasive so you can plant it near other plants without having to worry about it taking over. The feather-light leaves and intoxicating fragrance make this foliage plant a must-have. 

Sweet potato vine

Though the more ornamental sweet potato vine does produce tubers, they’re not nearly as good as sweet potatoes grown specifically for eating. The appeal of this plant is purely aesthetic. The sweet potato vine comes in a number of colors including bright green and deep purple, and its trailing tendencies make it an excellent choice for pots or groundcover. 

Lamb’s ear

No list of foliage plants would be complete without the soft leaves of lamb’s ear. The understated color and fascinating texture work well to balance out brighter flowers and bolder foliage, while the leaves continue to be a draw for kids seeking to rub the furry plant. 

Ornamental grasses 

Virtually any ornamental grass would make a fantastic addition to your garden. These hardy plants require very little care and are great for adding height and texture to any flower bed. Choose from a large variety of colors, sizes, and types to fill your particular need. Ornamental grasses are great for dividing in the spring, so it is possible to spread the beauty throughout your whole garden with just one plant. 

Elephant ears

This plant bears its name with good reason. Certain varieties can produce plants up to six feet tall with leaves as big as three feet wide. This easy-to-grow plant with a topical flair grows best in a slightly moist, tropical environment but will thrive anywhere with mild winters and humid summers. Usually grown in zones 8 and above. 

Amaranthus tricolor

The design and intrigue of this plant continually outshine more understated green foliage and wows with its spectacular display of vibrant color. The plant has a sunburst of orange and yellow at its center that stays colorful for months on end.

Coral bells

The ruffled leaves and exciting color options make coral bells a great choice for decorative foliage. The small plants grow in clumps and love partial shade, so they do well under trees or larger plants and can be used to utilize empty soil in the garden.

Dusty miller

Unlike other plants on this list, dusty miller doesn’t have showy, colorful foliage. The muted grey color almost has a silver tint to it that gives your garden an ethereal, fairytale feel. The soft, textured leaves stand out against other shiny foliage and bright blooms to tie your garden together and provide contrast. 

Japanese Painted Fern 

Though any ferns look lovely in the garden, the Japanese painted fern is particularly alluring. Its purple-silver fronds catch the light in a partially shaded area and shine with a radiant glow. These foliage plants won’t fade into the background but will attract attention and serve as a unique feature by themselves. 

Do you know of any other beautiful foliage plants? Let us know in the comments below!

-Taylor Ramsey

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