Create Your Garden

Tiarella (Foam Flower)

Your Ultimate Guide to Selecting, Growing, and Nurturing the Finest Foamflower Varieties

Foamflower, Tiarella cordifolia, Shade Plants, Shade Flowers, Shade Perennials

Tiarella, commonly known as Foam Flower, is a charming perennial known for its delicate, airy flowers and attractive foliage. It forms a low-growing, mounding clump, making it a popular ground cover choice. The flowers of Tiarella are small, star-shaped, and typically white or pale pink, borne on slender, upright stems that create a frothy, foam-like appearance.

Exploring the Charm of Foam Flowers

Tiarella is a member of the Saxifragaceae family, which includes other shade-loving plants, such as Heuchera (Coral Bells), Astilbe or Bergenia (Elephant Ears). The genus Tiarella has seven species, with Tiarella cordifolia being one of the most well-known and widely cultivated.

Native: Tiarella is mostly native to North America, particularly in the woodlands and mountain regions of the East and Pacific Northwest. Its natural habitat is in moist, shaded forests, making it well-suited to similar garden environments.

Growth Habit: Foam Flower is a herbaceous perennial, meaning it dies back to the ground in winter and re-emerges in spring. It has a clumping growth habit, with some varieties spreading through runners, similar to strawberries. This makes them effective as a spreading ground cover.

Size: It typically reaches about 6 to 12 inches in height (15-30 cm) and can spread up to 24 inches wide (60 cm), depending on the variety.

Flowers and Blooming Season: The flowers of Tiarella are delicate, often white or pale pink, resembling small foamy spikes. They are grouped in dense racemes and are visually striking against the foliage. Foam Flower typically blooms in late spring to early summer, adding a light, airy quality to the shaded garden during this time. The flowers are followed by small capsules that are not ornamental or significant in the garden.

Foliage: The foliage is one of its most attractive features, with heart-shaped leaves often marked with striking patterns or veining. Some varieties have leaves that turn bronze or red in the fall, adding seasonal interest.

Hardiness: Tiarella is hardy in USDA zones 3-9, making it suitable for a wide range of climates.

Uses: It’s ideal for shaded borders, woodland gardens, and underplanting beneath trees and shrubs. Its spreading habit makes it useful for erosion control on slopes.

Wildlife: The flowers attract a variety of pollinators, including bees and butterflies, making it a beneficial addition to a wildlife or pollinator garden.

Toxicity: Foam Flower is not known to be toxic and is generally considered safe for gardens with children and pets.

Deer and Rabbit: It is often resistant to deer and rabbits, which makes it a good choice in areas where these animals are a concern.

Invasiveness: Tiarella is not considered invasive. Its spreading habit is manageable and does not typically pose a threat to native plantings.

Guide Information

Hardiness 3 - 9
Plant Type Perennials
Plant Family Saxifragaceae
Genus Tiarella
Exposure Partial Sun, Shade
Season of Interest Spring (Mid, Late)
Summer (Early)
Fall
Height 6" - 1'
(15cm - 30cm)
Spread 6" - 2'
(15cm - 60cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam
Soil pH Acid, Neutral, Alkaline
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware, Southeast, Northeast, Midwest, Minnesota, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia
Attracts Bees, Butterflies
Landscaping Ideas Patio And Containers, Ground Covers, Beds And Borders, Underplanting Roses And Shrubs
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Gravel and Rock Garden, Informal and Cottage
Tiarella cordifolia (Foam Flower)
Tiarella ‘Spring Symphony’ (Foam Flower)
Tiarella ‘Sugar and Spice’ (Foam Flower)

What is Special About Foam Flower?

Delicate Beauty: Foam Flower’s star-shaped blooms create a charming, foam-like display, adding a whimsical touch to gardens.

Shade Tolerance: Excelling in shady areas, it’s a go-to plant for challenging low-light garden spots.

Attractive Foliage: The leaves, often patterned or veined, provide visual interest throughout the growing season.

Ground Cover: Forms lush, dense carpets, ideal for woodland gardens or as underplanting.

Low Maintenance: Easy to grow and care for, requiring minimal attention.

Pest Resistant: Naturally resistant to deer and rabbits, making it a reliable choice for varied landscapes.

Pollinator-Friendly: Attracts beneficial insects like bees and butterflies, supporting local ecosystems.

Versatile and Hardy: Adapts to various soil types and is hardy in many climates.

Seasonal Interest: Offers a long blooming season, typically in spring, enhancing garden appeal.

Tiarella ‘Jeepers Creepers’ (Foam Flower)
Tiarella ‘Crow Feather’ (Foam Flower)
Tiarella ‘Pink Skyrocket’ (Foam Flower)

Landscaping with Foam Flower

Landscaping with Foam Flower can add a touch of enchantment to shaded areas in your garden. Here are some ideas for incorporating this charming plant into your landscape:

Woodland Gardens: Foam Flower naturally thrives in woodland settings. Plant it under trees or in shady borders alongside other woodland plants like ferns and hostas.

Ground Cover: Its ability to form dense mats makes it an excellent ground cover, ideal for filling in spaces under shrubs or along shaded walkways.

Shade Garden Highlight: Use Foam Flowers to brighten up dark corners of your garden. Its delicate flowers and patterned foliage stand out in low-light areas.

Borders and Edges: Plant Foam Flowers along the edges of shaded borders or pathways for a soft, natural look.

Container Gardening: It also does well in containers, especially in shaded patios or balconies. Pair it with other shade-loving plants for a diverse arrangement.

Naturalistic Landscapes: Foam Flower is perfect for naturalistic or native plant gardens, blending seamlessly with the local flora.

Rock Gardens: In shady rock gardens, Foam Flowers can add a splash of greenery and blooms among the stones.

Companion Planting: It pairs beautifully with spring bulbs, providing foliage cover as bulb foliage dies back. It also complements shade-loving perennials like bleeding hearts and astilbes.

Erosion Control: On shaded slopes or banks, Foam Flower can help control erosion thanks to its spreading habit.

Pollinator Garden: Include Foam Flowers in a shade pollinator garden to attract bees and butterflies.

Companion Plants for Tiarella

Astilbe
Dicentra (Bleeding Heart)
Hosta (Plantain Lily)
Helleborus (Hellebore)
Hydrangea macrophylla (Bigleaf Hydrangea)
Azalea and Rhododendron
Narcissi (Daffodils)
Tulips
Crocus
Heuchera (Coral Bells)
Pulmonaria (Lungwort)
Aquilegia (Columbine)

How to Grow and Care for Foamflower

Growing and caring for Arborvitae (Thuja) is relatively straightforward, as they are hardy and low-maintenance plants. Here are some key guidelines to ensure your Arborvitae thrive:

Planting and Site Selection

  • Site Selection:  Choose a spot with partial to full shade. Underneath trees or in the shadow of buildings are ideal locations.

  • Soil:  Foam Flower prefers well-draining soil rich in organic matter. The soil should be slightly acidic to neutral.

  • Spacing:  If planting multiple Foam Flowers, space them about 12 to 15 inches apart to allow for growth and air circulation.

Watering

  • Keep the soil consistently moist, especially in the first growing season to establish a robust root system. Avoid overwatering to prevent root rot.

  • Foam Flower enjoys a bit of humidity. If your area is dry, consider adding a layer of mulch to help retain soil moisture.

Fertilizing

  • Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring. Alternatively, top dress with organic compost.

Pruning

  • Deadhead spent flowers to encourage more blooms. Trim off any damaged or dead foliage to keep the plant healthy.

Propagation and Division

  • Foam Flowers can be easily propagated by dividing the root clumps in spring or fall. Every few years, divide the clumps in early spring or fall to prevent overcrowding and rejuvenate the plant.

Winter Care

  • In colder regions, mulch around the plants to protect the roots from freezing temperatures.

Tiarella wherryi (Wherry’s Foam Flower)
Tiarella ‘Appalachian Trail’ (Foam Flower)
Tiarella ‘Candy Striper’ (Foam Flower)

Pests and Diseases

Foam Flower (Tiarella) is generally a hardy and low-maintenance plant, but like all plants, it can encounter some pests, diseases, and common problems. 

Pests

Slugs and Snails: These are common pests, especially in moist, shady gardens. They can chew large holes in the leaves.

Aphids: Small, sap-sucking insects that can occasionally infest the plant, typically in the undersides of leaves.

Diseases

Powdery Mildew: A fungal disease that appears as white, powdery spots on leaves. It usually occurs in humid conditions with poor air circulation.

Rust: Another fungal disease that manifests as orange or brown spots on the underside of leaves.

Root rot: This can occur in poorly draining soils or due to overwatering.

Common Problems

Scorched Leaves: If exposed to too much direct sunlight, the leaves of Foam Flowers can become scorched, turning brown and crispy.

Fading Color: The foliage might lose its vibrancy or variegation if the plant is not getting enough light.

Stunted Growth: This could be due to overly dry soil, lack of nutrients, or compacted roots.

Tiarella cordifolia, Foam Flower, Coolwort, False Mitrewort, White Coolwort, Shade plants, White FlowersTiarella cordifolia

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Tiarella like sun or shade?

Tiarella, commonly known as Foamflower, prefers shade to partial shade. It thrives in areas with dappled sunlight or full shade, making it an excellent choice for woodland gardens, shaded borders, or under the canopy of larger trees.

Will Tiarella spread?

Tiarella has a clumping growth habit, but some varieties can spread through stolons or runners, similar to how strawberries spread. This spreading can be beneficial for ground cover use, as it forms a dense mat of foliage. However, it’s not overly aggressive and tends to stay in bounds, making it easy to manage in a garden setting.

Is Tiarella a perennial or annual?

Tiarella is a perennial plant. This means it will come back year after year in the garden. In the winter, it may die back to the ground (especially in colder climates) and then regrow from its root system in the spring.

Is Tiarella invasive?

Tiarella is not considered invasive. While it can spread, its growth is generally slow and manageable, making it a well-behaved plant in the garden. It doesn’t pose a threat to native plants or ecosystems as some aggressive, non-native plants do. In fact, its ability to form a dense ground cover can be beneficial for erosion control and suppressing weed growth.

More on Gardenia

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 3 - 9
Plant Type Perennials
Plant Family Saxifragaceae
Genus Tiarella
Exposure Partial Sun, Shade
Season of Interest Spring (Mid, Late)
Summer (Early)
Fall
Height 6" - 1'
(15cm - 30cm)
Spread 6" - 2'
(15cm - 60cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam
Soil pH Acid, Neutral, Alkaline
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware, Southeast, Northeast, Midwest, Minnesota, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia
Attracts Bees, Butterflies
Landscaping Ideas Patio And Containers, Ground Covers, Beds And Borders, Underplanting Roses And Shrubs
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Gravel and Rock Garden, Informal and Cottage
Compare All Tiarella (Foam Flower)
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