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Chesapeake Native Plants: Foamflower

Reducing maintenance with a living mulch that creeps, blooms and froths.

native tiarella cordifolia at Mt. Cuba Center
Foamflower in Bloom at Mt. Cuba

Replacing mulch applications with a "living mulch," a carpet of ground covers, will significantly reduce your garden maintenance and make you a greener gardener in the process. Living mulch, or plants, shade out weeds, help soils retain moisture and add habitat and flowers at the same time.

One of the best living mulches for partial to full shade with average to moist soil is foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia). This is a woodland plant. In moist shade, foamflower will thrive and begin to send out runners which ultimately create a colony of plants.. Once established, foamflower requires no maintenance.

Foamflower is a short plant at 6 inches to maybe a foot tall. It blooms in mid-spring and the flowers feed pollinators.

Through the seasons, foamflower creates variety. Over winter, any remaining leaves turn red. In spring, new growth appears green and purply blue and, in summer, green. Gardeners love foamflower for the intricate veining on the leaves and the texture it adds.

If you use natives in your containers, window boxes or hanging baskets, foamflower does really well and the runners spill over edges creating a graceful effect. All of the foamflowers above wintered over. - one of the advantages of using perennials in containers. Foamflower would also be a good choice to plant near an edge of a wall to soften the edges.

Foamflower is an excellent native replacement for Japanese pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis), brunnera or siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla), sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum), ivy (Hedera helix) and vinca or periwinkle (Vinca minor). Foamflower is widely available at native plant nurseries and gardening centers. You can also order foamflower from Direct Native Plants here.

Creating a living mulch definitely takes time and patience but the end result will be worth it. Plant foamflower and your shady areas will be covered!


We want you to be as excited about planting Chesapeake natives as we are. “Plant This or That” gives you a native alternative to popular plants. Other posts highlight really fabulous fauna native to the Chesapeake.

Nuts for Natives, avid gardener, Baltimore City admirer, Chesapeake Bay Watershed restoration enthusiast, and public service fan.

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