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Tiarella: Foamflowers

Many white flowers bloom in May, but the tiarella is one of the only ones to bloom so prettily in the shade.

A native American plant that is as pretty as its name is Tiarella. This shade loving plant makes an effective groundcover in moist woody areas.

Although it likes moisture it will rot if the ground doesn’t drain well, especially in winter.


Tiarella cordifolia is known as the Allegheny Foamflower, and it spreads vigorously by runners and rhizomes to form 1-2 feet wide clumps. It has maplelike leaves and fluffy racemes of white flowers in late spring. Some varieties have red veined leaves.

Wherry’s foamflower is called Tiarella wherryi (“i” is added to the end of the man’s name to denote it is “of Wherry”). It is more compact and spreads more slowly and has pretty leaves and a pink tinge to its white flower spikes.

Tiarella plants can be divided in spring or fall and are good companions for ferns, hostas, pulmonarias and liriope.

Blooms in Shade

Many white flowers bloom in May, but the tiarella is one of the only ones to bloom so prettily in the shade.

Make sure that you have plenty of space around the Tiarella so it can spread to form a good sized clump. Otherwise, before it is established other companion plants may overwhelm it. However, once it is established this dainty looking plant can usually hold its own.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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