Leaves That Stand Out: Growing Plants With Beautiful Foliage

Leaves That Stand Out: Growing Plants With Beautiful Foliage

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By: Teo Spengler

Plantswith beautiful foliage can be just as eye-catching and elegant as thosewith flowers. While foliage usually provides the backdrop of a garden, plantswith cool looking leaves can get a starring role if the leaves are big in sizeor bold in color variegation. If you want to livenup a shady area or add a unique spectacle to your garden, you can do itwith stunning plant foliage. Read on for ideas.

Plants with Beautiful Foliage

Every leaf has its own beauty, but some are moreexceptional. They may ‘wow’ us by their size, shape, or color. Some of theseplants also grow flowers, but the leaves are the primary ornamental attraction.

You’ll find stunning plant foliage on more than a fewperennials. One to look for is canna(or canna lily). This plant is actually not a true lily. It has huge banana-shapedleaves that can be green, red, or even striped. Flowers come in shades of red,yellow, and orange. Even without the flowers, most gardeners agree these plantsstandout.

Another plant with interesting foliage is the coleus.Coleus plants have large oval-shaped leaves that are often edged in new greenwith brilliant scarlet interiors.

Plants with Interesting Leaves

If you want plants with leaves that make the neighborsstare, start with the agave family. Agavesare succulents so their leaves are thick to begin with, but the fascinatingvariations are exceptional.

  • Monterrey Frost (Agave bracteosa) has ribbon-like arching succulent leaves radiating out from the center.
  • New Mexico agave (Agave neomexicana ‘Sunspot’) has a rosette of dark turquoise leaves with creamy yellow margins leaves a stunning color contrast.
  • Artemisia offers leaves that stand out in a crowd. The texture is airy like a fern, but silver-gray colored and soft as butter. You could try any of the popular Artemisias like wormwood, mugwort or tarragon.

Leaves that Stand Out Above Others

The list of gorgeous foliage plants goes on and on. Manyrank hostasas the top foliage perennial, as there is no doubt that these leaves stand out.They may be green, blue, gold or multicolored. Hostavarieties come in small to giant, but all have stunning plant foliage.

Another plant whose leaves stand out is the Persianshield (Strobilanthes dyerianus). The leaves are almost iridescent.They are oval in shape and a shocking violet color with green ribs andundersides.

More plants with cool looking leaves include:

  • Lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina), which are fuzzy and gray (about the size of a lamb’s ear), and very, very soft.
  • Edible amaranth (Amaranthus tricolor ‘Perfecta’) may make you think of a tropical parrot, as it has impressive plant foliage that is canary yellow splotched with scarlet in the center and bright green at the tips.
  • Elephant ears (Colocasia spp.) and similar plant types, like caladiums, all have large, arrow-shaped leaves (resembling an elephant’s ear). Varieties can have green, velvety leaves shaped like elongated hearts. Foliage may be dark purple to black with leaves bearing interesting color patterns such as the red, white and green.

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Read more about General Foliage Care

Dramatic Foliage Container Garden

Shift your focus to the green in your garden. Enjoy a beautiful container garden without flowers by choosing plants with gorgeous leaves.

Decorate a large concrete urn with textured foliage and all shades of green. Dark green, chartreuse, silver, and blue-green all make an appearance in this display. The plants in this container garden all prefer full to part sun.

B: Licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare ‘Licorice Splash’) — 2

C: Variegated geranium (Pelargonium ‘Dolly Vardonv) — 1

D: Variegated geranium (Pelargonium ‘Crystal Palace Gem’) — 1

Aspidistra Species, Cast Iron Plant


Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:


Foliage Color:




USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone

Can be grown as an annual

Suitable for growing in containers


Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Manhattan Beach, California

Brooksville, Florida(2 reports)

Fort Walton Beach, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida(3 reports)

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Thomasville, North Carolina

Winston Salem, North Carolina

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Orangeburg, South Carolina

Sumter, South Carolina(2 reports)

San Antonio, Texas(2 reports)

Lake Forest Park, Washington

Gardeners' Notes:

On Feb 8, 2018, SecretMonkey from Salisbury, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

Wow! This plant is absolutely indestructible. Over 6 years in its original two inch pot which I tossed into some leaves in the back yard because I forgot what it was. The thing never died. I was searching online for shade tolerant plants and I saw a picture of this plant- "Cast Iron Plant" and I realized what the plant was. I found it again, still green though a little worse for wear, and over two feet tall, and still in its two inch pot! I repotted it then moved it to several different locations because I couldn't decide. Finally in the ground a couple years ago in shade, never watered or cared for. We have just had more than a month when the temps never went above freezing and that thing is just as green and lush as though it were in a pampered geenhouse!! What a plant! Now I wan. read more t to propagate it and put it into an actual garden bed as part of the design. Deep dry shade. I want it to fill in the space. Now I just have to figure out the best way to do it!

No flashy flowers but has a beauty of its own in its green leafy durability.

On Feb 27, 2015, poeciliopsis from Phoenix, AZ wrote:

Central Phoenix -- Aspidistra elatior is not a plant that would spring to mind when you think of things to grow in the desert. However, it does well in my garden. I have lots of it and it all came from a couple of original plants in the early 1990s. The plants in dense to moderate shade do best. However, some get several hours of afternoon summer sun and still grow well, with a lot of leaf-tip burn. It is not a water intensive plant -- most of mine receive every-other-week water from March to November and only natural precipitation in winter. The sunniest patch also gets every-other-day supplemental drip in summer. The blooms on this plant are so odd, but certainly not showy. In fact if you don't make an effort to look in early spring, you won't even notice them.

On Dec 17, 2012, chuck7701 from McKinney, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

As others have said, this is one great, tough and decorative plant. Six stars for this plant outdoors or indoors. In the many years I have grown them, the only damage has been freeze burns under the drip line of the eaves from ice storms. Otherwise, snow and temps into the lower teens have not hurt them.

However, in the south, hot afternoon sun will burn the leaves if exposed too long. They do best in filtered light to deep shady areas, and are perfect for spaces under or around live oaks. Easily propagated, fast grower when established, transplanting time is best in late fall before new shoots develop. Bloom time is in December.

When pruning damaged or dead leaves, suggest cutting close to the root or ground to eliminate unsightly stalks. The remaining. read more stalk(s) will remain green and do not die out for a long time. Dead tips or damaged areas can be trimmed off, but if leafs appears lighter or yellowing, cut the whole leaf off.

On May 10, 2012, nwaguy1966 from Bentonville, AR wrote:

I just received a cast iron plant from a friend that lives in Dallas and has this plant growing in his flowerbeds. I put ina temporary pot to get it home and in a week or so even without repotting it has put on two new leaves. Guess it doesn't frow THAT slow. lol.

On Feb 13, 2012, JonthanJ from Logansport, IN wrote:

I grow this as a houseplant in Zone 5. Even potted, aspidistra has an amazing ability to survive freezes down into the single digits with little damage. This is not a light touch of frost. The rootball freezes solid, and the plant recovers with very little damage. This is part of the 'Cast Iron' story. Many of the Victorian parlors they grew in were only heated when company came over, and very likely did freeze once in a while. For us, that means that for instance, they can be used to dress up a darker corner of an unheated sun room, an attached garage, or a vestibule.

On Jan 23, 2012, Apalmtree from New York, NY wrote:

There is a good reason why they call this plant a "cast iron plant". I have seen then grow in California and Florida (2 completely different climates) and yes, they can even grow here in New York City!
Last year I put the top of a garbage bin over my clump of Cast Iron plants to keep the snow off of them and maybe provide some cold protection. It got down to 5F and they had no damage and it was a cold winter, with a duration of cold like I havent seen in years.
This winter has been a lot milder and I havent even protected them at all. I even have some that are in small plastic pots also unprotected. They all are still green and we got down to a cold 13F one night. I would definitely consider these good plants in zone 7 and up, but keep them in a protected spot in a zone 7 ju. read more st in case.

PS, they are very very slow growing so get them a nice size because they maybe push up 2 leaves a year.

On May 12, 2010, SewNice from (Zone 9a) wrote:

I received some Aspidistra in a plant swap in 2002 or 2003. They were in some gallon sized tin cans with drainage holes punched in the bottoms. I didn't get them planted very quickly actually, I didn't get them in the ground until fall of 2009. If there is a plant out there that will take more abuse and neglect than the Aspidistra I do not know what it would be.

On Jan 23, 2010, ghopdap from Austin, TX wrote:

Let me first say I love these plants and they are beautiful. It seems they will grow just about anywhere. I know they are shady plants but I have them in my front yard which gets morning and afternoon sun for over 20 years and have always done fine. A second group is on the east side of my house doing well too. We had a very hot dry summer and an unusual few days and nights of very cold weather for the Austin area. The ones in the front yard now have burned leaf tips. I was wondering if I need to trim the tips or cut them back to the ground. Does anyone have advice? I've read about the salt in the soil burning the tips but I think the weather is the problem. One note of history these plants came from Nacogdoches TX, which is in East Texas, from my husband's grandparents place before a chu. read more rch bought the property and bulldozed all the beautiful plants, flowers and trees for a parking lot including several 30 foot tall paper shell pecan trees. Those were the biggest best tasting pecans I've ever eaten.

On Nov 26, 2009, texasflora_com from De Leon, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

You just can't go wrong with aspidistra. I only have a handful of plants that were planted in spring of this year. They grow slowly but tolerate heavy shade very well. I've observed them for many years in my area and I've never seen them freeze back in winter. As far as using it as a houseplant, I think this is a much better choice than snake plant/mother-in-law's tongue. If anyone ever needs to get rid of their plants, I'll take them all, even bare root with no leaves and will happily pay your shipping and other costs.

On Jun 15, 2009, db2776 from Austin, TX wrote:

This is by far the most resilient and tough plant I have encountered.
Five of these hardy plants live in my side yard, in complete shade.
Moreover, they get no water except for when it rains, which is rare here in Austin Texas as of late.

I tried to remove them once, cutting the plants back to the ground. Nothing was left, not a leaf and within 6 months ALL five plants were back and stronger then ever.

Now that I know what they are and how hardy they've proven to be I am considering planting more.

On May 16, 2008, cazieman2 from Seattle, WA wrote:

i had always seen this plant in the malls around seattle, and just thought it was a tropical. then they remodled this one mall and planted it out side. thought for sure someone didnt know about the plant and it would die. ended up that i was the one who didnt know anything! they have been there for a coupple of years now and are doing great looking green, and spreading. i see this now at nureries and plan to buy some, but have noted that it is never out side and kept inside with the tropicals. i find this odd now given the knowledge. must be a common misconseption?

On Sep 7, 2007, nolafwug from Metairie, LA wrote:

We just moved into an apartment with a wild yard that was well cared for many years ago but has suffered flooding from Hurricane Katrina and years of neglect. The Cast Iron plants are thriving. I even found some in pots hidden behind the overgrowth and they are green and lovely though crowded. I've trimmed away the mangy, ripped leaves and much new growth is springing up in the shady, as-yet unfertilized courtyard garden I am trying to improve. The Cast Iron plants will be a nice backdrop for whatever I decide to put up front. Many leaves are two feet tall. They certainly deserve their name!

On Aug 11, 2007, laura10801 from Fairfield County, CT (Zone 6b) wrote:

I keep this one as a house plant and it definitely lives up to its name! I sometimes forget to water it for several weeks, I never fertilize it (really, NEVER), I basically neglect the darned thing, and yet it survives. A wonderful plant for brown thumbs!

On Jul 31, 2007, SWMOZ6_J from Springfield, MO wrote:

. . . or maybe I should have posted "positive." I found this plant growing in a neglected (shaded, never watered, or tended) area near my house in Z6. I've lived here 8 years and never knew what this plant was until last year. This summer I bought several at a garden center in Tulsa. I'll keep you posted as to whether they survive or thrive in my Z6 garden.

On Feb 12, 2007, Hikaro_Takayama from Fayetteville, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

I bought two half-gallon plants from the houseplant section of a local nursery this past spring to plant outside as an experiment. During the past summer, they went through a 2 month long, record-breaking drought with no ill effects, and actually kept growing. During the same time period, I had to water all my other recently planted perrenials, trees and shrubs at least once a week to keep them from dying.

This winter, both plants have taken two weeks of temps below freezing (as well as multiple frosts and freezes before this latest one), and two nights of temps near zero (the official temp on my indoor/outdoor thermometor was 2.5 and 3.5 degrees, but they are in a shady spot under my bamboo grove in the woods, which is undoubtedly colder) with NO damage at all, so I can c. read more onfirm that they are at least leaf-hardy to zone 7a, and they should be rood hardy throughout zone 6.

I'm planning on buying some more this spring to plant in some annoying dry, shady spots where other plants just won't grow, and I find that the ones I already have outside, once they spread, will make a nice ground cover under my bamboo grove.

On Feb 4, 2007, SW_gardener from (Zone 6a) wrote:

According to my information this plant may be grown as a die back perennial in zone 6 if well mulched and maybe even zone 5.

On Aug 29, 2006, speckledpig from Satsuma, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:

Many folks here on the gulf coast use this to surround their oak trees. It looks nice and fills in all the gaps if left untendered!

On Jul 23, 2006, Bartramsgarden from Trenton, FL wrote:

These plants are evergreen here in my zone 8b garden near Gainesville, Florida. I was slow to warm up to this plant, as my parents had a clump in their garden that always looked ragged. I have since learned that the trick to keeping them looking neat and attractive in areas where they do not die back naturally is to cut them back to the ground every 2-3 years.

I would also like to mention that while the solid-colored variety is most common around here, there are rarer varieties with white splotches or white striation in the leaves. In my opinion, these are far more interesting, which goes against my general dislike for variegated foliage.

On Jul 15, 2006, greenbud from Houston, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant is very tough and durable in my garden. Unfortunately the previous owners of my house planted the cast iron plant in an area of full sun instead of partial shade as they prefer. They're sunbleached and burnt looking at the ends. The clumps I've moved into shade look much better - greener, healthier, no brown leaf tips. I'm slowly but surely trying to give away or relocate the plants exposed to full sun.

On Jan 1, 2006, growin from Beautiful, BC (Zone 8b) wrote:

Tough plant that seems to do better in loose-dry soil in shade to semi-shade. Has endured snow, frost, wind, etc with ease. root-bound plants seem to do better than plants with lots of growing space.

On Nov 15, 2005, CastIronPlant22 from Lompoc, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

I have a Cast Iron Plant collection, i currently have 14 different types of cast iron plants. I have been collecting for 2 years, and i want to share some things about them with you. They are very easy easy to grow, i have not seen any pest's on them at all. I water them about once every two weeks. I have them all in clay pots in Scotts Cactus Mix, it does very well for inside plants and keeps them very dry, unlike other potting soil that keeps inside plants soaking wet. I try and water with botteld water, because tap water may have lots of salts that burn the tips of the plants. I keep the window in the room " a room inside my house that has all my cast iron plants in and nothing else" open sometimes at night. Right now some of my Cast Iron Plants are blooming! I never knew of anyone that. read more had them bloom inside. If you grow yours inside, take some advice from what i have typed and maybe you will get yours to bloom too. There are about 34 different kinds of Cast Iron plants.

Forgot to add that cast iron plants love organicly enriched soil. Dr. Earth All purpose fertailizer mixed in with the soil has always kept mine looking great! Cast Iron plants arnt picky, but it is always good to achive the needs of the plants. I had one in an 18 inch pot, it was very root bound, the rhizomes were exposed and the roots had taken up the whole pot, It was actually pushing itself up and out from the pot. I had a choice to divide this huge plant and get 4 plants our of it, or leave it. I left it the way it was and just found a 20 inch pot and re planted it. It has over 60 leaves and is very tall about 3 feet. It takes them a long time to reach that size and i didnt want to wait on it to grow back. Its very lush and dark green, i will upload a photo soon.

On Oct 15, 2005, Ulrich from Manhattan Beach, CA (Zone 11) wrote:

We have this growing in our yard for over 40 years and it is doing very well. But it has never bloomed.

On Jun 5, 2005, brugmansialover from Santa Maria, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I'm just here to tell you what I have learned from the Agriculture department, about Cast Iron Plant tip die back(leaf burn). Do you have a Cast Iron plant, and notice at the tips, that they are brown? Ever wonder what causes this? Well I took some leafs into the Ag. Department, come to find out, salt in the water/soil is the culprit. They suggested that I water now with drinking water that I can find at Wal-Mart/Albertsons/Von's, and so on.. Do not use distilled. The salt in the tap water is what causes the burning edge's, and also stays in the soil.. So when you go get drinking water from the store, and you water your Cast Iron plant, make sure you water enough, so that the extra water comes out of the bottom of the pot, this will help leech out the salt in the soil.. If you can affor. read more d it, re-pot your Cast Iron plant with new soil and start him/her(Cast Iron plant) off with drinkin water, that will be a sure way to help him/her(Cast Iron plant)stay leaf burn free.

On Apr 21, 2005, TropicalLover21 from Santa Maria, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

This plant is GREAT. WOW, i love it soo soo soo much, it is very nice looking in a terracota pot! I just love it, its so easy to grow, and it does respond well to fertalizer too.. I have it inside, next to a north facing window.. and its growing like crazy, well, its not that fast, but it sure is sending up new shoots.. I am thinking about buying another one for outside in the garden. If the soil isnt rich, and you dont water alot, it will turn varigated! Thats cool too, will live for many years in the same pot!

We had two problems mowing the yard (in San Antonio) - difficult to mow between live oak trees growing close together and areas with roots, stumps and rocks protruding from soil. Planting iron plants in these areas solved the problems. We give them lots of water for about a month after dividing and replanting. Then just forget them.

On Oct 31, 2003, littlemomma from Bognor,
Canada wrote:

I live in central Ontario in Canada (zone 4a to 6b). I realize that an aspidistra would be unlikely to survive our winters. However, I have read that in Victorian times it was an extremely popular houseplant, although I can't find one here.

On Sep 22, 2003, nevadagdn from Sparks, NV (Zone 7a) wrote:

I have two Aspidistra elatior - one is 'Asahi', and the other is an unnamed variety I found at a nursery in Sacramento. They have done well since I planted them this spring.

Whether they will make it through the winter I don't know my hardiness zone ranges from 6b in the more exposed parts of the garden to 8a in the sheltered areas (which is where I put the Aspidistras). They do well where little else grows.

Winter 2004 update: Aspidistra elatior DEFINITELY survives single-digit temperatures in a location sheltered from the wind with only minimal damage to the very tips of some leaves.

On Aug 18, 2003, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

San Antonio, TX
An excellent shade plant that requires little effort, the cast iron plant provides a tropical look to any shady setting. Disease abd insect free, it just keeps on growing and multiplying. Sunlight will burn the leaves so be sure it is not exposed at any time of the day in order to ensure its attractiveness. It is an evergreen here. A severe freeze (survived 20 degress in pots with little ill effects) will scorch some of the leaves, but just cut them off. If just the tip looks discolored, the ugly area can be trimmed leaving the rest of the leaf.

Use it in masses and as a contrast to fern, hosta, caladium, dwarf Mexican petunia, coleus, dwarf plumbago, impatien and begonia.

On Aug 18, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

Cast Iron Plants have grown in my grandparents' yard, (which is now my 97-year old aunt's yard), in southern Georgia (U.S.) since the 1950's. They are located under a large Oak tree and in front of Azaleas they're attractive and virtually maintenance free.

I am currently looking for some Cast Iron plants to grow in my yard here in northcentral Florida (Zone 8b), as I have some areas of heavy shade, and the plants should stay evergreen here.

October 30, 2003: Finally found a big pot of cast iron plant last week, and planted it in front of 'Fashion' Glen Dale hybrid azaleas, which have pretty salmon colored flowers both in the Spring and the Fall, and under a large, spreading, native evergreen holly tree. I hope this plant will spread and make a nice, tall, . read more deep green groundcover under this tree over the years. The leaves of my plant are quite tall and broad, so it must be an improved variety--I have never seen any cast iron plant so large, so I'm quite happy with it.

On Aug 17, 2003, Maudie from Harvest, AL wrote:

For a stunning effect, plant these around the trees in your yard. They are very attractive when planted very close to each other around a tree, so easy to grow and make quite a show.

On Aug 16, 2003, Azalea from Jonesboro, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

I live in Zone 7b near Atlanta, Georgia (U.S.) and find that this plant does well year-round, it does not die back for me. The leaves grow to about 30" and add interest to my Hosta/shade garden.

On Jan 28, 2003, Mule from North Little Rock, AR wrote:

About 10 years ago, I took some rooted cuttings of Cast Iron Plant from my father's garden in Jackson, Mississippi (U.S.)

The plants there grew to 4-5 feet and had magnificient foliage on the huge twisting leaves. The plants in my garden in central Arkansas grow no taller than 24" and usually die back to the ground in winter. I have a large black plastic planter (36") crammed with plants that I take into a protected area for the winter and these plants make a nice accent piece in summer.

On Aug 31, 2001, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

The Cast Iron Plant is named for its tolerance for poor growing conditions. It spreads in clump and is a good plant for those very shady spaces.

Propagation: Division in late winter, early spring.

Polka Dot Begonia

It's all about the dots,” says Mike Rimland, Costa Farms Plant Hunter, about Polka Dot begonia.

Mike travels the world looking for the new plants to introduce to the American plant market. He knows what will look stunning on the shelf of your home, but he also knows which plants that new plant parents will also be successful with.

In clothing, in indoor décor, spots and dots are a common decorative theme. But it's relatively uncommon. “Not many plants have this feature,” he says. The large wing-shape leaves are accented with silver dots that pop out from the dark-green background. The dots, their metallic quality, the wings: it all added up to a winner. Polka Dot begonia (Begonia maculata) is a native of Brazil. It has a Carnival feel to it!

Costa Farms chose to develop this plant commercially because it was so showy. “In the US, this begonia was commercially rare, but collectors loved it.” In an article in Nursery Management Magazine, Mike says “There are two definitions of ‘rare.’ The collector rare includes plants you find on the side of a hill in the Philippines that no one has seen and commercially rare is when no one is producing any volume of the plant. You tend to find these through internet sources where prices are very expensive,” Mike says.

“Our goal is to take the commercially rare plants that we believe are easier for the home gardener and produce the volume that will bring the prices down, as well as bring them to the local stores where they shop.”

Nanouk Tradescantia

This showy little plant has foliage that is bright green, white, and pink -- a lovely little trio-color effect. The almond-shape leaves are slightly fuzzy and grow very close together on the stem, giving a very lush overall look of the plant.

Tradescantias are native to South America, but Nanouk was developed in The Netherlands. The variegated leaves are the main attraction of this plant group. (See other Tradescantia varieties.)

In addition to its lovely pink hue, Nanouk also produces beautiful little pinkish-white flowers. Like Raven® ZZ, Nanouk is also a patented plant. In the patent description, Nanouk is described as unique (and hence patentable) for the following characteristics: “Compact and upright to broadly spreading plant habit, strong and healthy leaves with light purple, green and gray-green leaves, and is good (for) interiorscape performance.”

It’s all about the pink,” says Mike. “The variegation is so interesting,” he says.

Network Calathea (Calathea musaica)

It was the visual appeal of Network™ Calathea that first caught Mike's eye, but it was his wife who really took a shine to Network. So Mike took a second look. In the case of Network™ case, it was the leaves. “It has a thicker leaf,” he said. And the veins in the leaf were different. Interesting. And had that visual appeal that added Network to the list.

This plant is also patented, The description for this plant from the patent says “A new and distinct Calathea musaica cultivar,” it is named ‘PP0005’ for the patent purposes, and the reason it has a patent is because it is unique “characterized by a compact, bushy plant habit, and strongly variegated foliage.” The inventor of this plant is from The Netherlands, and made the selection in a greenhouse in Holland during September 2005. Justin Hancock, Costa Farms Horticulturist, describes the leaves of Network™ this way: “They form a pattern that almost looks like a digital network.”

Although Costa Farms calls this plant Calathea musaica, you might also see this plant sold under the botanical name Goeppertia kegeljanii. Network™ differs from Calathea musaica in that it's more compact and bushier, with smaller leaf stems. It also offers more pronounced variegation than the standard Calathea musaica. Costa Farms is the only plant grower in North America that has negotiated rights with the patent holder to propagate it.

Watermelon peperomia (Peperomia argyreia)

The Trending Tropicals ® Collection strives to create diversity and visual impact. Watermelon’s colorful demeanor makes it a prime selection. “It’s all about the stripes,” says Mike about this beautiful plant. Watermelon is also an easy-care indoor plant. The fleshy leaves help retain plant moisture so you don’t have to worry about watering it all the time. In fact, says Justin. Watermelon “is rather sensitive to overwatering, so if you're in doubt about whether to give it a drink, it's usually best to wait.” Watermelon peperomia’s relatively thick leaves allows the plant to hold up well if it gets a little too dry.

Shingle Plant (Rhaphidorphora hayi)

Shingle plant produces aerial roots along its stem that grab onto a vertical surface. This climbing plant is so striking because of how it grows. Shingle plant is called this because the leaves grow in an overlapping way -- but they also need a flat surface, such as a wooden shingle, to grow on.

"It’s all about the shingle,” laughs Mike. Once the plant grabs onto the flat surface, the large, heart-shape leaves hug the shingle growing upward, overlapping the board like fish scales. If you are looking for a unique and interactive plant, try Shingle Plant. Justin says that nearly anyone can raise this plant indoors. “Shingle plant grows happily with natural or artificial light. If you don't have a bright window to grow it near, it can thrive under fluorescent or LED lights.”

Raindrop Peperomia (Peperomia polybotrya)

Some of the Trending Tropicals ® plant species have been around awhile,” says plant hunter Mike Rimland. “Some are popular in Europe.” And most of these plants, Raindrop included, are on the “coveted list” for plant collectors in this country. With the roll out of the Trending Tropicals collection, these unusual plants are now also available for the new plant buyer.

"It’s all about the green thick leaf,” Mike explains. Here’s why: The thicker the leaf, the more drought and low-light tolerant it is. For the plant owner, Raindrop offers a cool look, but it is also easy to care for. Raindrop peperomia can thrive beautifully under artificial light, such as fluorescent or LED bulbs.

Sterling Silver Scindapsus

“Sterling Silver is a winner. This plant was a blockbuster right out of the gates online,” says Mike Rimland. Why? Well, Sterling Silver has a lot going for it. It’s beautiful, for one. The metallic accents (hence its name Sterling Silver) are gorgeous. It’s also flexible as an element of indoor decor. You can train its vining stems up a trellis, let the plant grow horizontally across a tabletop, or hang it up and watch it trail down.) But best of all, it’s easy. Sterling Silver scindapsus (also called Scindapsus treubii 'Moonlight') is a close relative of pothos (Epipremnum) and philodendron, but it's much less common. It’s rareness is also one of it’s selling points.

“It's all about the silver,” says Mike Rimland. Metallic accents are rare in the plant world. “This one really took off on Instagram,” he says. Take a look and you’ll see that the combination of dark green foliage kissed with a silvery sheen is irresistible. Justin Hancock, Costa Farms Plant Guru, adds “It has been a relatively uncommon and hard-to-find houseplant despite its good looks and easy-growing nature.” All that is changing now that it’s a member of the Trending Tropicals® Collection.

Raven® ZZ (Zamioculcas zamiifolia 'Dowon')

“It’s all about the black foliage,” says Mike Rimland. “I’ve heard it referred to as a Goth plant,” he laughs. The color is a stand out, in part because, as plant collectors know, it’s nice to have some color variety in your collection. Light green plants really pop when placed near those of darker foliage.

Raven® ZZ plant features bright green new growth that matures to a rich, purple-black. Raven is also an easy keeper. It grows in natural light, but can grow just as well in artificial light. And unlike many plants which feature unique coloration (other than green), Raven doesn’t require strong light to develop its rich coloration. In fact, it can grow happily in low light, just like its all-green cousin.

The plant world has been abuzz about Raven® ZZ for several years. At the 2018 Tropical Plants International Expo (TPIE), Raven ® won Best New Plant. It’s new, it’s rare, and it’s black -- which is an unusual color for houseplant foliage.

Maze Plant (Hydnophytum papuanum)

Maze Plant is an exotic looking plant that is indigenous to Africa. Its unique footed base -- called a cadex -- is as beautiful as it is utilitarian. The wide base of the plant is filled with a maze of tunnels that help this plant store water.

Also of interest is this: Maze plant has a structure that allows it to have a mutualistic relationship with the ants that live in its indigenous areas. Mutualism is an ecological beneficial interaction between species. In this case, the relationship is between the base of the plant and ants. In their wild habitat, ants move into the maze cavities using it as shelter and food. The ants return the favor by providing nutrients, pollination, seed dispersal, and protection. Nature friends! Rest assured that your Maze plant will not attract ants in your home.

The cadex of this plant holds so much water, so Maze Plant is very drought tolerant. “It’s all about the low maintenance,” says Mike Rimland. It’s one tough plant. In fact, Mike says “It’s difficult to kill it.” This is good news indeed for fans who love unusual plants but may sometimes forget to water.


Philodendrons have been a popular houseplant for years. There are hundreds of species of philodendrons, each with their own unique beauty. It’s a very diverse group. And not all philodendrons can grow successfully indoors. You may know this plant as the hanging plant over your best friend’s kitchen sink or the big floor plant at your favorite home decor store. This plant group comes in many forms. Their leaf shape can be large or smallish, heart-shape, oval, lobed, or deeply cut. But one thing that the majority of philodendrons have in common, is that their leaves are green.

Enter Birkin. This extraordinary philodendron has large almond-shape leaves that are striped with creamy white veins. Native to the tropical areas of North and South America, philodendrons are now grown indoors all over the world.

“It’s all about the stripes,” says Mike Rimland. “We already have lots of all-green philodendrons,” says Mike. The creamy white lines in Birkin are very defined, and that’s a cool thing to see. Birkin has caught the eye of Instagramers around the world. Adjectives of praise include words like “rare,” “gorgeous,” “must-have.” Home decor fans love this plant because it can stand alone as a focal point or mix in well with other green houseplants, raising their visual profile. Here’s how to care for your Birkin.


"Xanthosoma is not a new plant” says Mike Rimland. But it has garnered some attention. Why? It has beautiful variegation. “This plant is getting a new lease on life -- because of the Trending Tropicals ® Collection inclusion.

Xanthosoma thrives in medium to bright, indirect light. And for those of us that may have less natural light in some rooms, this plant does well under artificial lights, such as fluorescent or LED bulbs.

Green Galaxy

Monsteras are originally found growing in hot, humid tropical regions of North and South America. Most people think of Monsteras, they are thinking of a plant with large, smooth, lobed leaves. They are thinking of Monstera deliciosa. Green Galaxy offers a different take on Monstera (and may become a popularity contender). This exotic houseplant features fabulously textured foliage with a ripped, almost corrugated appearance. There’s a subtle iridescence in the leaves. When shopping you may also see Green Galaxy sold as Monstera sp. Peru.

Green Galaxy has similar growing needs to other monstera varieties. According to Costa Farms Plant Guru, Justin Hancock, “Like other climbing aroids, you can enjoy Green Galaxy a multitude of ways.” One trendy way to grow it is climbing upright on a totem. It’s also an elegant choice trailing from a hanging basket or horizontally across a tabletop, mantle, or desk,” he says. Although it’s a slow grower, this plant can easily climb more than 6 feet indoors.

Mike Rimland says, “This is a super great plant. It’s all about the contrast.” When you look closely at the leaves you see that the veins are slightly yellow. “This is a collector’s plant,” says Mike. “But it is commercially rare,” he says. Watch this space for more news about this interesting new Monstera.

Colorful, fleshy succulents are gorgeous in planters. Use a fast-draining potting mixture that's specially designed for cacti and succulents.

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Jatropha Species, Bellyache Bush, Black Physicnut, Cotton-Leaf Physicnut


Water Requirements:

Sun Exposure:


Foliage Color:




USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone

Can be grown as an annual


Seed is poisonous if ingested

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

From seed direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed

Allow pods to dry on plant break open to collect seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Fort Lauderdale, Florida(2 reports)

Zephyrhills, Florida(2 reports)

Saint Helena Island, South Carolina

Gardeners' Notes:

On Aug 20, 2020, Heart2heart60 from Lakeland, FL wrote:

I live in Lakeland fl 9a and the bellyache is doing wonderful. Love the colors of leaves and the flowers. It grows in the ground and part shade. No disappointed.

On Aug 17, 2013, TropicalPam from Cooper City, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

I love the purple in this plant and mine just bloomed cute little flowers :) I just read that this plant is carnivorous. Anyone know anything about that. is it the sticky hairs on the stems that get the bugs. Like a sundew plants. I love carnivorous plants so I love this one even more now LOL. I keep mine in a pot so it doesn't spread.

On Dec 7, 2011, digforrestdig from West Palm Beach, FL wrote:

I always called this plant a coffee plant, but I had a feeling it must of been something else. Every1 seems to adore this plant, I like it as well as it has a very cool look.

On Jul 15, 2011, claireblair from St Eustatius,
Netherlands Antilles wrote:

We have these growing wild in the Caribbean and we call them Pondu. They have traditionally been used here for skin conditions such as bites and stings. Today in fact one of my volunteers that works for me in the Botanical Gardens got stung by a Yellow Jacketed Hornet and I gave him some Pondu. It takes the pain away really quickly and it's a very painful sting!

On Jul 11, 2011, Z4golfer from Houston, TX wrote:

Beautiful plant, but a weed, nevertheless! It shoots its seeds all over the place. It kind of sounds like caps being struck and the next thing, it is a hurling seeds through the air. I have been pulling this plant for 4 years and I still get one occasionally peeking its head through the mulch. I prefer a Jatropha tree over this plant that was originally given to me.

On Apr 13, 2011, Anjana from Delhi,
India wrote:

this plant grows in my delhi and rajasthan homes in india. in soil it can become a medium sized tree. i keep it outside my kitchen as my former housekeeper treated a deep cut from a knife to his hand with sap of this plant. it immediately stopped the spurting blood flow.

On Jun 5, 2004, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

I first got one of these plants at a plant sale at the local cactus and succulent society. It was planted on the clubhouse grounds and I noticed it had seeded itself around. So I decided to keep it in a pot on the patio. It has not seeded itself anywhere in the 3 or 4 years I've had it. I really like the look of it.

On Aug 29, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I love trying to grow Jatrophas in So Cal, and this is one that did better than expected. It turned into a gorgeous little tree about 3' tall and with 30+ little twisted branches. sort of like a big bonsai tree. Then it produced lots of little flowers and the next thing I know it's everywhere. It is a very easy weed to pull up, but it has become a weed, nontheless. And it's a really sticky, gooed plant to prune. It also doesn't take watering heavily in the winter (the main plant rotted about 4 years after growing). but LOVES water in the summer (got a 3' tree from a seed in just 1 growing season). and more weed spread from there. The garden is now hopeless inundated with this Jatropha, and though I still like it's looks, don't really want it everywhere. Careful when planting t. read more his in a warm climate.

On May 31, 2003, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

This is a container grown plant but lives outdoors in central Florida. It dropped some leaves when the temperature got down to 32 for a short time. It quickly recovered, and is blooming now (May and June).

On May 30, 2003, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

Very beautiful plant. It grows spontaneously in an abandoned area near my home. The contrast between the purple leaves and green fruits is something special. It grows in aired, a bit salty and poor soil, I don't know if it does well in other conditions, though. It has glands all over its body and around the leaves (which has also a hairy texture)

Watch the video: Giant House Plants: When Little Plants Get Big!