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Best foliage plants for garden colour


July 28, 2022


Searles Gardening Team

Spring garden colour doesn’t always have to be about planting big and bold flowering plants to add striking contrast and texture to your patio, garden or indoor spaces. There is a large range of colourful foliage plants with flamboyant and out-of-the-ordinary features which will give your green space star quality.

1. Loropetalum ‘Plum Gorgeous’

Mass plant Plum gorgeous for a year round display of deep plum coloured foliage. Pink flowers appear in spring and autumn. Great for informal hedging and container planting in tubs to suit small spaces in full sun or part shade. Plant in the garden for foliage contrast. A moist well drained soil will give best results, although once established, it is dry tolerant.

1.2m H x 1.5m W. Pendulous, compact form.

2. Acacia ‘Limelight’

Compact native shrub (60cm–1m tall) with outstanding lime green, pendulous foliage all year round. Dry tolerant and hardy, it will grow in full sun or part shade in most well-drained soils or pots. Tolerates light frosts.

Best foliage plants for garden colour and contrast - Plum Gorgeous

Best foliage plants for garden colour and contrast - Acacia Limelight

3. Trachelospermum ‘Tricolour’

‘Tricolour’ will bring accents of colour to your garden all year round. It enjoys full sun or part shade and almost any well-drained soil. Mulch well. Grows in a compact habit making it ideal for border edging plants.

4. Abelia ‘Kaleidoscope’

This striking compact ornamental changes its foliage with the season. From bright yellow with light green centres and soft pink petite flowers in spring to darker foliage in summer, then bright orange foliage in autumn turning into fiery red in the winter months. Plant in full sun to take advantage of the foliage colours.

70cm H x 90cm W. Great as an informal hedge. Low maintenance.

Best foliage plants for garden colour and constrast - Tricolour Tracelospermum

Best foliage plants for garden colour and contrast - Abelia Kaleidoscope

5. Bamboo Dwarf Whitestripe

Pretty bamboo ground cover with crisp green and white variegated fluffy foliage will adorn this compact plant. Grows to 40cm in height, and will stay dense and lush when trimmed down.

6. Canna Tropicanna® range

This range of exotic cannas with their bold coloured foliage and vibrant flowers will give a tropical feel to the garden, patio or pool area. Tropicanna has bold leaves of pink, yellow, red, orange and green, topped by orange flowers.

Tropicanna Gold has broad striped leaves in gold and green with orange flowers with yellow edges.

Tropicanna Black has purple/black foliage with bright scarlet/orange flowers.

Planted together, the three Tropicannas create a stunning colour combination. Tropicanna, Tropicanna Gold and Tropicanna Black when mass planted provide stunning backdrops to garden borders. They are easy to grow and flower readily with minimal maintenance.

Best foliage plants for garden colour and contrast - Dwarf Bamboo Whitestripe

Best foliage plants for garden colour and contrast - Canna Tropicanna range

7. Lillypilly ‘Big Red’

Plant this medium growing Lillypilly for its large glossy leaves, dark crimson new growth, excellent topiary and hedging properties. Hardy, frost and dry tolerant once established. Responds well to shaping. 4m H x 2.5m W. Plant in full sun to part shade with Searles Garden Soil Mix. Prune to shape during early spring to encourage dense habit.

8. Cordyline

Cordyline Rubra creates an instant impact in gardens with its large bright red foliage giving a lush tropical look.  Other bright colours are available such as bright orange, yellow, etc. Loves low light conditions. Traditionally a tropical plant but some varieties can tolerant colder conditions.

Best foliage plants for garden colour and contrast - Lilly pilly big red

Best foliage plants for garden colour and contrast - Cordyline rubra

9. Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’

This distinctive variety displays unique variegated foliage with spikes of flowers in a blend of cream, lime and green appearing from late winter through to early spring. Compact growth of 50cm2. Plant in full sun. Tolerant of extreme heat and dry conditions. Great as a structural feature in gardens and pots.

10. Kalanchoe luciae ‘Flapjack’

This succulent has increased in popularity over the past few years and is a great choice for lower maintenance style gardens. Its large, disc shaped foliage develops rich tones of russet and burgundy that contrast well against its usual silver green colouring throughout winter, providing a gentle textural element to any garden or potted feature. Plant in Searles Cacti & Succulent Mix.

Best foliage plants for garden colour and contrast - Euphorbia Ascot rainbow

Best foliage plants for garden colour and contrast - Kalanchoe Flapjack

11. Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)

Commonly regarded as Christmas flowering plants, poinsettias flower during our Australian winters and are now widely available in an assortment of decor colours ranging from the customary scarlet, yellow, pink, cream to bicolours. The new cultivars are grown for their compact stature and can handle a full sun to lightly shaded position.

12. Caladium bicolour

Caladium bicolour is a warm season bulb with bright flamboyant heart shaded leaves available in a range of reds, pinks, greens to white. They like humidity and warm climates. Plant Caladiums in pots as a house plant if you live in a cooler climate. For warmer climates, Caladiums flourish planted in gardens in a semi shaded spot and watered well in hot weather.

Best foliage plants for garden colour and contrast - Poinsettia

Best foliage plants for garden colour and contrast - Caladium bicolour