The foam flower is a popular garden plant that feels comfortable and thrives in the partial shade or shade of deciduous trees. There are only three species in this genus, but numerous cultivars. The choice is great. The plants differ mainly in the shape and markings of the leaves and in the intensity of the flower colour. Foam flowers are very easy to care for plants that should not be kept too dry and not too wet. Otherwise, they don’t make many claims. Only snails and vine weevils are a threat. Read our text to find out what else you need to take into account.


  • Belongs to the Saxifrage family
  • Also called foam candle or foam herb
  • Genus contains only three species
  • Two are from North America, one from Asia
  • 1. Heartleaf Foamflower – Tiarella cordifolia L.
  • 2. Dreiblättrige Schaumblüte – Tiarella trifoliata L
  • 3. Asiatic Foam Flower – Tiarella polyphylla
  • Numerous varieties
  • From the name, there is a risk of confusion with the genus of foam herbs (Cardamine)
  • Perennial herbaceous plants
  • Ideal ground cover for shady locations
  • 10 to 50 cm high
  • Usually form rhizomes, less often clumps
  • Both evergreen species and winter dying ones
  • Heart shaped foliage leaves
  • Often lobed leaves
  • Flowering in spring, usually long
  • Often pleasant floral scent
  • 10 to 70 cm long inflorescence with racemose or paniculate inflorescences
  • Quite small flowers, but very many
  • Flower color white to pink
  • Small capsule fruits with seeds

Interesting Tiarella varieties

  • ‘Black Snowflake’ – medium green leaves, the individual leaf segments are dissected down to the central vein. The leaf resembles a snow crystal. In addition, the leaf veins are very dark, almost black in color.
  • ‘Jeepers Creepers’ – green, incised leaves with distinctive markings, creeping variety, relatively large, white flowers with a pink tinge, suitable for cutting
  • ‘Black Velvet’ – velvety, rich green leaves, deeply notched, dark brown markings along the leaf veins, flowers white with a little pink, quite large variety with great growth potential
  • ‘Crow Feather’ – deeply incised, rich green leaves with dark brown-red markings like a feather, small white flowers, vigorous variety
  • ‘Mint Chocolate’ – mint green leaves with brown-red markings, resemble a maple leaf, flowers are white with a touch of pink, very pretty variety
  • ‘Cygnet’ – green leaves with a purple streak along the veins, very deeply dissected, very similar in appearance to the Japanese maple leaf. The middle leaf segment is significantly longer. pink, fragrant flowers
  • ‘Spanish Cross’ – green leaves with dark markings along the veins, deeply dissected leaf segments, resembles a baroque cross, light pink flowers on long stalks, good for pot keeping
  • ‘Ninja’ – green leaves with black-red vein markings, leaves deeply dissected, white flowers tinged with coral pink
  • ‘Dunvegan’ – green leaves with maroon markings. 5 to 7 very deeply dissected lobes, pale pink flowers on long peduncles, pale pink flowers
  • ‘Pink Bouquet’ – green leaves with reddish-brown markings along the veins, clump-forming, flowers light pink and fragrant, sitting on long stems
  • ‘Inkblot’ – green, star-shaped leaves with a large, almost black spot in the centre, white flowers
  • ‘Iron Butterfly’ – Large, rather light green leaves with a striking black-purple markings and deep notches, large white-pink flowers with quite a strong scent
  • ‘Neon Lights’ – large leaves, almost neon green in spring, with black-violet markings, very deeply cut, resembling a Japanese maple leaf, large flowers in white with a little pink
  • ‘Oakleaf’ – green, oak-like leaves with brownish markings, clearly notched, clump-forming, white flowers
  • ‘Pink Skyrocket’ – deeply notched green leaves with distinctive almost black markings, bright pink flowers, frequent second blooms
  • ‘Slick Rock’ – small, green leaves with brown markings, very maple like, pale pink flowers, produces densely leafed stolons, good ground cover, especially for part shade
  • ‘Appalachian Trail’ – green, oak-like leaves with maroon markings, white flowers, pillow-like creeping growth

The care of the foam flower

There are numerous varieties of foam flowers, which differ in appearance but hardly in care. What is interesting about the foam flower is that you can cross the individual species and varieties with each other. Even Heucheras can be used for this. Many of the foamy flowers have runners and you have to be careful not to spread them too much.

When choosing a variety, you can be guided by several factors, for example whether you prefer a clump-forming species, one with colored autumn leaves, with strongly colored leaf veins or the color of the flowers. The selection is large and every year there are more. Care is quite easy if the location and plant substrate are right.

The location should be partially shaded. Too much sun and too much shade is not ideal. A place under deciduous trees is good, so the plants get enough light in the dark season and in the bright season they have protection from too much sun. The plant substrate must be neither too dry nor too wet. A loose, humus-rich and quite nutrient-rich soil is important. There is not much to consider when planting. Watering is important, always waiting for the top layer of soil to dry. Drying out is bad, as is constantly wet soil. You hardly have to cut them and overwintering is usually not a problem. Propagation is easy, done by sowing seeds, cutting off the runners and dividing the rhizomes. Diseases and pests are quite rare.


The natural habitat of the foam flowers is moist mountain forests. Plants do well under deciduous shrubs. They do particularly well in the vicinity of heart lilies, lungwort, fat mans and ferns. The dark shade of evergreen trees, for example, is not quite as favorable. If it gets too dark, flowering will slow down significantly.

  • As light a penumbra as possible
  • Also deep shade in summer
  • Best under deciduous shrubs
  • In dark conditions, flowering subsides
  • Sun only with sufficiently moist soil
  • Midday sun can cause burns on the leaves.

plant substrate

It is important that the plant substrate is not too dry. However, it must not be too wet. Standing wetness is not tolerated. A slightly more nutrient-rich soil is favourable. Too compacted and rooted substrate is rather disadvantageous for the development of the plants. A loose and humus-rich soil is better.

  • Relaxed and humorous
  • Not too dry, but also not permanently damp or wet
  • Nutritious
  • Acidic but non-calcareous or neutral but not calcareous
  • No compacted or heavily rooted soil
  • Loosen heavy soils with sand and compost.


There is not much to consider when planting. Foam flowers should not be planted too densely, as they need space to spread. Drainage in the bottom of the pot is recommended when kept in pots.

  • Plant in spring or fall
  • Planting distance about 40 cm
  • 9 plants per square meter
  • Drainage when keeping vessels
  • Water well after planting and do not let dry out in the next few weeks!
Note: The soil must be free of weeds. The first few weeks you should also remove any weeds because of root competition. Later, the plants form such dense carpets that weeds no longer stand a chance.

watering and fertilizing

Casting is important. The soil should not dry out, the plants do not tolerate this very well. But it must not be too wet either, because standing water is almost as bad. A mulched soil is therefore favorable because it does not dry out so quickly.

  • Evenly moist soil
  • No waterlogging
  • Water only when the top layer of soil has dried
  • Better to keep it a little drier in winter and protect it from excessive moisture
  • Fertilize little
  • Alternatively, a layer of mature compost can be worked in between the plants in spring.
  • More fertilizing is not necessary
Tip: In principle, it is sufficient to mulch the soil or not to remove the leaves that have fallen from the trees.

To cut

With the cutting of the foam flower there is hardly any work. The faded flower stalks can be cut off if they bother you. But you can also wait until they are completely dry. Then they simply come off the plant by pulling.

  • Cut back to ground level in fall, but only those varieties that do not have evergreen foliage.
  • In the spring of evergreen plants, only remove the no longer so good-looking leaves.


Overwintering the foam flower is usually not a problem. The plants are very hardy. However, there can be problems with too much moisture, which is why a cover can be an advantage. Otherwise, there is nothing else to consider when hibernating.

  • Hardy to about minus 15°C
  • Cover the plants if there is too much moisture, because the moisture does not agree with them.
  • In winters that are not so cold, the leaves of most Tiarella remain green.
  • They just don’t survive high sub-zero temperatures.


If there is enough space, the plants spread quite quickly. They tend to proliferate, especially Tiarella cordifolia. The plants are propagated by division, sowing and runners. In addition, the foam flower is often crossed with Heucheras (purple bells). This leads to a wide variety of varieties. The resulting hybrids are called Heucherella.

  • Above-ground runners – can be easily separated and replanted separately.
  • Division of the rhizomes – in spring at the beginning of budding or after flowering
  • Sow immediately after ripening in autumn in a cold box
  • Protect seedlings from autumn from frost! It is best to cover with a thick layer of leaves or brushwood

diseases and pests

Diseases are extremely rare with good planting and care conditions. Pests are also not very common. Snails like to eat the young shoots and vine weevils are quite common, but can be kept in check quite well.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the foam flower suitable for underplanting roses?
Yes, if the soil isn’t too dry and the location doesn’t necessarily get midday sun. The plants are rather unsuitable for a place in full sun.

How is it that the foam bloom is becoming less year by year and in some places has already disappeared from the garden?
I have read about this phenomenon several times. But there was never a good explanation for this. I could imagine that the plants didn’t like something. But that can be different things. I would guess too much shade or too much sun, wrong soil or soil compaction. I’ve read the opposite about root competition. It is often stated that the plants do not tolerate them, but almost as often it was said that they were well tolerated. If it is the case that the plants are becoming fewer and fewer instead of spreading out as a good groundcover, you have to do some research into the causes. Simply compare the above conditions with the actual ones and improve them if necessary.

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