Evergreen ground cover tends to be a rather boring group of plants, they are generally just green and well … creepy. Everything changes when you try running forms of Tiarella, which is a semi-evergreen perennial plant.

The foliage of Tiarellas is always cut in very interesting shapes and marked nicely with black patterns. The new spring growth will always be a brighter, lighter green than last seasons’ or late summer color. The really stunning part about having ground cover forms of Tiarella is the light, airy blooms they produce beginning early in the spring.

In perennial gardens for shady spots, you will find both clumping and spreading forms of what is commonly known as Foam Flower. The proper name for this group of plants is Tiarella. There aren’t that many forms of spreading Tiarella that are beautiful, so the introduction of the River Series has been causing some excitement among plant collectors. Last year we featured Tiarella cordifolia ‘Delaware’. Now you can get a first hand peek at the rest of the current new releases.

Tiarella Lehigh

Tiarella cordifolia ‘Lehigh’
Image courtesy of Plants Nouveau © 200

From the genius breeding work of Sinclair Adam from Dunvegan Nursery in Pennsylvania, comes this wonderful selection of flowing flowering ground covers. In regions beyond zone 5, this plant may very well be perennial due to extreme winter temperatures. With good snow cover as insulation, it will not die back, but be there and nicely green when spring thaw arrives. Late frost spells will never make this flowering plant in your garden or landscaping look zapped, they adore cold weather. Frost and a late snow will do little to impair the blooming charm.

The Tiarellas in the River Series grow 4-6” high with a spread of 2-3 feet in two or three years. Unlike other evergreen ground covers like

Tiarella Wissahickon

Tiarella cordifolia ‘Wissahickon’
Image courtesy of
Plants Nouveau © 2008

Pachysandra and Ivy, Tiarellas are good mannered bed fellows. You won’t find this lovely flowing foliage choking the life out of your shrubs, hostas and other perennial plants. With the traditional forms of evergreen groundcovers, it is an annual to seasonal chore keeping it cut back from the life space of other plants in your landscape or garden. Pachysandra over a couple of decades can get so thick and determined; I have seen it push ornamental fences out of the ground!

You’ll be delighted to know that once established, Tiarella plants will deal with drought quite nicely. While they will grow and fill faster with consistent moisture, a little dryness will not kill your planting off. It is best to give them loose soil that is rich in organic matter like compost that they are natives of on the forest floor. Good drainage is also important to the family of Foam Flower perennials.

Foliage of Susquehanna Tiarella

Tiarella cordifolia ‘Susquehanna’
Image courtesy of Plants Nouveau © 2008

While they will in the cooler regions of the US do very nicely in some sunshine, your Tiarella plants will be lusher if they only receive morning sun. This is especially true in really hot summer areas. Some sunshine is advisable for best flowering habits. Like ferns, Tiarella is a plant that will grow in some really difficult shaded places but will perform faster with filtered or direct light in the cooler parts of the day.

The entire River Series of Tiarella cordifolia should be easy to find for early shopping in 2010. All five plants were released to growers in 2009, making availability for this spring more prevalent. For more information, please visit Plants Nouveau.