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Tiarella cordifolia [tee-ah-REL-lah, kor-di-FOH-lee-uh], commonly known as the foam flower plant, are rhizomatous herbaceous perennials with dense, clumpy foliage and frothy spikes of pristine white flowers.
It is named after a Greek word Tiarella meaning tiara or Persian turban due to its uneven pistil. The Latin word cordifolia translates to heart-shaped leaves owing to its eye-catching rounded, lobed leaves attached to slender stalks.
This wildflower from the Saxifragaceae plant family along with Heuchera is a native plant of the cool, moist woodlands of North America, spread across stream banks of Minnesota, Alabama West, all the way to Nova Scotia and the Appalachian Mountains.
It provides a breathtaking groundcover for a shade garden in the summer.
The common name foamflower is derived from the feathery texture of stamens and the airy appearance of the small, star-shaped flowers.
Some of its other common names are:
- Heartleaf foamflower
- Heart-leaved foamflower
- Allegheny foamflower
- False miterwort
- Cool wort
Tiarella Cordifolia Care
Size & Growth
The semi-evergreen foliage grows up to a height of 6” – 12” inches and the flowering plant spreads up to 18” – 23” inches.
The plant reaches its full height in a period of 2 to 5 years.
Flowering and Fragrance
The flower color of the star-shaped cordifolia flowers is white. The bloom time is from early spring, April to July.
The white flowers grow as inflorescence racemes on stalks surrounded by foliage of deep green, lobed leaves.
The deciduous, heart-shaped leaves with dark markings are an impressive feature of the plant. They are about 4” inches with 5-7 lobes.
The bronzy leaves provide foliage color in the fall.
Light & Temperature
Foamflower plants grow best in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9 and prefer partial to full shade.
It requires direct sunlight for about 2 to 6 hours and prefers direct sunlight no more than 2 hours every day.
The plant is heat tolerant in zones 7 through 1 but overall prefers low temperatures.
Watering and Feeding
The plant survives only brief spells of drought, they prefer consistent soil moisture.
Provide ample water to the plant in summer. However, refrain from overwatering it in winter.
The plant enjoys a feeding of water-soluble fertilizer every 2 weeks during the growing season.
Soil & Transplanting
Foamflower plants are best suited for rich soils. Fairly moisture-retaining, humusy loam or chalk should be chosen for growing this plant.
The plants prefer neutral to slightly acidic soils, usually in the range of 6.2 – 6.5.
Grooming and Maintenance
Tiarella requires little maintenance and will retain its eye-catching appearance for years.
However, extreme weathers can affect the plant adversely and cause damage to the foliage.
The plant should be pruned and groomed by cutting spent leaves and flowers.
Grow these plants in containers or gardens with partial shade and protect them from frosty winds and more than a couple of hours of direct sunlight.
Tiarella plants are propagated easily by sowing seeds or division of rhizomes.
Foamflower plants are self-sterile, thus it would be best to plant multiple species.
It first blooms in summer and attracts butterflies for pollination.
The seeds mature quickly to reach the top of the stalk.
After about six weeks, the seed pods will turn brown and split open to reveal tiny black seeds which should be collected and sown immediately.
- Cover the seeds lightly.
- If immediate sowing is not possible, clean, dry and keep the seeds for next year at a cool, dry place.
- While the rate of germination is rapid, the seedlings often take about a month to grow to their full potential and will be ready for potting by fall.
- Pick the seedlings and grow them individually in winter.
- Plants should be moved in late spring or early summer.
Fall and spring are ideal seasons to divide runners or crowns.
The stolons of Foamflower plant offsets or rhizomes are used to propagate the plant further.
The vigorously growing rhizomes produce roots by the second season.
By the third year, the rooted rhizomes are extracted and planted into permanent positions.
Place the smaller offsets in a cold frame and light shade once they reach a considerable size.
Foam Flower Tiarella Pest or Diseases
Tiarella cordifolia has relatively fewer pests and disease problems.
The plant is deer and rabbit resistant and unaffected by insects, but slugs and snails often create pest problems.
Foam flowers detest wet feet and may suffer from Phytophthora root rot if the clay soils are poorly drained.
Black vine weevils can sometimes infest the plant and discoloration may appear on the leaves due to foliar nematodes.
Tiarella Cordifolia Plant Uses
Tiarella cordifoilia is one of the favorite ground cover flowering plants for shade, butterfly, pollinator, native, or woodland gardens.
The beautiful wildflowers add to the beauty of rock gardens, edgings, borders, and containers they grow in.
It also makes a good edging to a flower bed. They make great companions to grow with phlox.
Additional uses include its use as a medicinal plant due to its diuretic, hepatic, lithotriptic and tonic properties.
Infusion of its leaves and roots is used as a mouth wash or to treat conditions like eye, mouth, and back soreness and diarrhea.