Dictionary of Flowers: Tiarella (Foamflower)

Fluffy and pretty Tiarella (Foamflower). Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of mystuart and Flickr

Fluffy and pretty Tiarella (Foamflower). Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of mystuart and Flickr

  • Tiarella 
  • Common name: foamflower
  • Family: Saxifragaceae
  • Category: Perennial in USDA zones 4 to 9
  • Height: 8”
  • Width: 12”
  • Shade/part shade
  • Blooms: early spring to early summer
  • Growth habit: clumping, spreading. Used as a filler in container combinations
  • Maintenance: easy
  • Soil: acid to neutral, rich, moist, well drained. Water regularly if grown in containers
  • Garden uses: containers, groundcover, mixed border, rock garden, woodland garden
  • Diseases: root rot
  • Pests: slugs and snails

Tiarella is a perennial native to the woodlands of North America and Asia.

This shade loving perennial spreads by rhizomes and forms a nice groundcover with maple shaped leaves on short plants.

The flowers of tiarella are plume like spikes of small white flowers, slightly scented. Flowers can be pink or white.

The foliage turns colors in fall, from green to bronze in the warmer zones and survives winters there.

Foamflower requires neutral to slightly acidic soil, well enriched with compost, though it will grow in a wide range of soil conditions. It does best in woodland like conditions, with filtered sun, bright shade or shade.

The soil has to be kept moist and cool at all times, but not waterlogged, especially in winter. Waterlogging promotes root rot.

Fertilize tiarella once in spring with a fertilizer suited for acid loving plants.

Remove spent flower spikes, but allow a few to go to seed if you wish to collect it at the end of the blooming season.

Tiarella can be divided in early spring or fall. Clumps can be lifted and divisions replanted immediately in well-amended soil.

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

They can also be propagated by runners, which also need to be planted immediately.

To start foamflower by seed, plant seeds in moist starting medium at least twelve weeks before the last expected frost. When kept at about 70F, they germinate in about a month.

If germination doesn't take place, move containers to the fridge for four weeks. Then return to cool conditions, at around 50F.

After seedlings emerge, keep moist but provide good air circulation. Harden off and plant when all danger of frost has passed.

Tiarella can be wintersown or sown in place in fall, for germination next spring.




IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Not likely to develop disease if grown in humusy but well drained shade to morning sun. It can develop root rot in winter in soggy soil conditions.

Slugs and snails can be a problem in spring. Bait as needed.

Popular varieties:

  • Tiarella cordifolia var. cordifolia (Alleghany foamflower) - heart shaped leaves which can develop burgundy splotches. White or pink flowers
  • Tiarella cordifolia var. collina (Wherry's foamflower) - foliage resembles maple leaves, being more deeply lobed than Alleghany's foamflower
  • Tiarella hybrid 'Neon Lights' - interesting foliage with dark centers and bright green edges. Blooms early
  • Tiarella hybrid 'Mint Chocolate' - foliage turns reddish pink in winter. The foliage in summer is green with dark brown markings
  • Tiarella hybrid ‘Spring Symphony’ - rebloomer, tall flower spikes
  • Tiarella hybrid 'Sugar and Spice' - deeply cut leaves, bright green with dark brown markings in the center. White or pink flowers
  • Tiarella hybrid 'Starfish' - star shaped leaves, very deeply cut with dark veins. Blooms are light pink

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Full List of Dictionary of Flowers Entries

Annuals For Containers

Perennials For Containers

Go from Tiarella (Foamflower) to the Dictionary of Flowers

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