How to Grow Tiarella (A Quick Guide)

Written by Hannah Miller. Reviewed and Fact Checked by Elizabeth Smith. Published to Spring Plants. Updated: 21st February 2023.

Our editors publish helpful guides and insights learnt from years of experience and recent research. They also test, review and suggest plants and products. If you buy something via links, we may earn a commission, but we have a strict editorial process.

Tiarella is one of my go-to plants for underplanting taller shrubs; in my garden, the foliage covers space well, and I like the upright spiky flowers.

I’ve grown this plant in several locations over the years, and I feel the best spots are:

  • In woodland settings.
  • Under roses and taller shrubs.
  • In full and heavy shade.
  • At the front or middle of borders.
  • As ground cover.

Also known as the “foam flower”, I’ve found tiarella to be easy to grow, is bothered by few pests, and the foliage eye-catching as it turns from green to bronze in autumn.

The tiarella in my garden dies back to ground level by late autumn but is reliable and returns year after year.

Size

Height: Up to 30cm (12″)

Spread: Up to 40cm (16″)

Type

Type

Herbaceous perennial – dies down after flowering and reappears the following spring

Growth icon

Growth

Moderate growth rate. Time to max size: 3-4 years

Difficulty

Easy if grown in a suitable location

Native

North America and Asia

Location

Front or centre of a shaded border, woodland setting, underplanting of roses and other taller shrubs

Sunlight

Best in partial shade, dappled shade and full shade

Hardiness

US zone 4-9 and hardy in all parts of the UK

Water & Feed

Keep the soil reliably moist, best grown in the shade where the soil is naturally moist. Apply a yearly mulch to improve the soil and protect the crown in the winter

Companions

Ferns, grasses, hostas, heuchera, pulmonaria, hellebores and other plants that thrive in woodland or shaded borders. Also use under shrubs, roses, large hydrangeas

Planting

Plant 25cm (10″) apart in the spring, add leafmould, compost or other soil improvers as required

Flowering

Mid-spring to mid-summer. The foliage is of interest into autumn

Green tiarella foliage
Tiarella underplanted beneath a shrub

Tiarella: My Answers to Questions

Below I’ll try to answer questions you may about growing tiarella.

The answers are based on my experience with this plant, which is 6 years:

How Are Tiarella Plants Sold?

I’ve purchased tiarella plants as large plugs in spring, I believe this is the most popular way to buy them.

Seeds are available from most garden centres and online, but when I tried them, I found that germination was erratic and took from 2 weeks to 2 months.

I found that the seeds were more likely to respond when sown in a cold frame in autumn or spring and then acclimatised before planting out in the garden after the risk of frost has passed. Even then, I still had issues get them going.

I’ve had success propagating tiarella by division in the spring every few years, they recovered well and bloomed immediately after I planted them back in the garden.

What are tiarella plants grown for?

I’ve always grown them for their foliage and ground-covering nature – in my garden, they’ve covered space quickly, including in areas with deep shade and under taller shrubs where the base previously looked sparse.

How should tiarella be planted?

I’ve only ever planted tiarellas in the spring after the risk of frost has passed.

I’ve found that they can be spaced 25cm apart and I usually apply a mulch and keep the soil moist but not waterlogged until they’re established.

Seeds should be started off in a cold frame rather than by planting direct in the garden.

Where should tiarellas be planted?

In the wild, tiarellas thrive in a woodland setting where the soil is rich and moist but not waterlogged. From my experience, I know they prefer a little dappled sun but will survive in full shade too.

I’ve experimented with tiarella over the years and I feel they will perform best in:

  • Front and middle of borders.
  • North, west and east-facing gardens.
  • Under tall shrubs.
  • Under trees.
  • Cool parts of the garden.

Don’t plant under conifers; from what I know, the soil will be too acidic for them.

How much water and fertiliser do tiarellas require?

As tiarellas are woodland plants, I’ve always tried to mimic the soil in their natural habitat. I usually add a mulch of leafmould and chunky compost yearly, and sometimes twice a year and I prefer this over high-dose chemical fertilisers.

Tiarellas prefer reliably moist soil that’s never waterlogged so I give them a splash of water during heatwaves, but otherwise, I leave them alone.

If you don’t grow tiarellas in moist woodland-type ground conditions, you’ll probably need to water them more frequently.

Do tiarellas spread? Are they invasive?

Tiarella plants come in two flavours; “clump-forming” or “runners”.

Neither is considered invasive and I’ve found both are very easy to control. I’ve had good results by dividing them in the spring to make more plants.

In my garden, the clump tiarellas produce a neat mound up to 40cm wide while the running variety spread further, up to 1 metre.

The tiarellas I’m growing appear sterile and I’ve never seen them set seeds.

Are they prone to pests and diseases?

I’ve never had any issues with diseases, and slugs only seem to nibble on the foliage of the young plants; in my garden, they seem to back off once the leaves have thickened.

I’ve read online that some gardeners have reported issues with slugs, but from my experience, I believe that tiarellas aren’t the preferred dish for slugs, they usually bypass them if there’s more appealing foliage in the garden.

Consider these slug control products and traps if you are having problems.

Insects generally don’t bother my tiarellas, but when I did research, I found that vine weevil has been an issue for others.

When do tiarellas bloom and how long for?

In my Surrey garden, tiarellas flower from mid-spring to mid-summer and the blooms last around one month. I’ve read online that new cultivars may bloom for even longer, but I haven’t had the chance to try them yet.

I’ve found that the foliage is of interest and covers the ground sufficiently from spring to autumn, when it then turns a golden brown colour before falling off for the winter.

Are tiarella plants suitable for containers?

I’ve never grown them in containers, and I don’t see why they can’t thrive, but consider that:

  • They dislike dry soil, so containers should be kept in the shade or part shade and watered frequently.
  • They dislike the heat, so should be kept off patios and driveways etc.
  • I feel they would be more suited to large containers, perhaps underplanting larger, taller shrubs.
  • They will require a mulch and soil refresh more often as they prefer rich organic matter.

Are tiarella plants plants toxic or harmful to humans and pets?

I couldn’t find any reports of toxicity to humans or pets when I checked in February 2023.

Is this perennial beneficial to wildlife?

The bees in my garden seem to love tiarellas, and I’ve seen them helping themselves numerous times.

Tiarella Spring Symphony Herbaceous Perennial White Flowering Outdoor Shrub (20-30cm (Incl. Pot))
20 Sugar Scoop FOAMFLOWER White Tiarella Trifoliata Laceflower Flower Seeds
Tiarella Spring Symphony Herbaceous Perennial White Flowering Outdoor Shrub (20-30cm (Incl. Pot))
20 Sugar Scoop FOAMFLOWER White Tiarella Trifoliata Laceflower Flower Seeds
Tiarella Spring Symphony Herbaceous Perennial White Flowering Outdoor Shrub (20-30cm (Incl. Pot))
Tiarella Spring Symphony Herbaceous Perennial White Flowering Outdoor Shrub (20-30cm (Incl. Pot))
20 Sugar Scoop FOAMFLOWER White Tiarella Trifoliata Laceflower Flower Seeds
20 Sugar Scoop FOAMFLOWER White Tiarella Trifoliata Laceflower Flower Seeds

Tiarella Aftercare

In my garden and all parts of the UK, tiarella plants are herbaceous perennials – meaning they die back to ground level for the winter and reappear the following spring.

I’ve been growing them for 6 years, mostly under taller plants, and I’ve found they require little to no care after flowering.

However, they may benefit from:

Pruning and Deadheading

You can deadhead flowers as they start to fade, as this will encourage new flowers to appear and prolongs the flowering period.

I’ve never pruned back the foliage as it holds interest for many months, even as it starts to fade into autumn colour.

Feed and Fertiliser

I’ve never felt the need to apply feed or fertiliser after flowering.

In my garden, I’ve found the best time to mulch is in the spring, but if you’re growing them in a very cold climate, a late autumn mulch can protect the roots and crown from frost.

Protect From Winter Wet

While tiarellas prefer moist soil, it should never be waterlogged, so protect the roots in the winter by ensuring proper placement and good drainage.

Companion Plants

I and other gardeners I know grow tiarellas for their ability to cover ground and fill gaps under taller plants.

Consider growing them under:

  • Roses.
  • Small trees.
  • Shrubs.

I’ve also had good results by pairing tiarella with other shade-loving and woodland plants, including:

Also Consider

I’ve previously considered pairing tiarella with:

Similar Plants

Tiarella is similar to:

Heuchera – the foliage is very similar to that of heuchera which copes better with more sun and slightly drier soil.

Heucherella – created by cross-breeding the closely related tiarella and heuchera – the best of both plants!

I recommend these varieties/cultivars:

Spring Symphony is a popular clump forming tiarella, which in my garden, grew to 40cm and produced pink and white flowers from spring into summer. The foliage is particularly interesting, with green leaves with purple centres, which all turn yellow and rustic into autumn.

Jeepers Creepers has a more creeping habit, is known as a “runner” and can spread up to 75cm, making it perfect for covering ground quickly, especially in shaded parts of the garden. I have this in my garden and have found it perfect for weed suppression. It’s scented and with slightly more reddish and cream flowers.

10 Key Points

If you’ve never grown tiarella before, consider my 10 pointers:

  1. Tiarella is often grown as a weed suppressor and to cover bare patches in shaded parts of the garden, but I really like the flowers too.
  2. It prefers a woodland habitat or as close as possible.
  3. Grow in the shade, part shade or slightly dappled shade with no more than a few hours of dappled sunlight per day (I suggest you try heuchera if your garden is more on the sunny side).
  4. Consider placing under roses or other taller shrubs, even trees, I’ve had good results here.
  5. Moist soil that is never waterlogged is best.
  6. This perennial prefers a cool spot in the garden and I’ve seen it struggle in small containers on hot patios.
  7. Deadhead to prolong flowering and, optionally, divide in the spring every 3-5 years.
  8. Watch out for slugs which may attack younger leaves, they appear to back away from them once the leaves toughen up though.
  9. A good dose of mulch in spring can benefit, but in 6 years, I’ve never applied fast-acting chemical fertilisers
  10. I’ve found that they pair well with other woodland plants.

Daniel’s Take on Tiarella

Here is a quote from Daniel Woodley, our co-founder:

Tiarella is best known for its ground covering and weed suppressing habit but the spiky star-shaped flowers on the upright stems are just as delightful and add colour to darker corners of the garden

“Spring Symphony” is a classic and reliable clump tiarella while “Creeper Jeepers” is a runner best for groundcover, especially under tree canopy. 

The Difference Between Tiarella, Heuchera and Heucherella

You may like this video from Garden Answer:

Our Expertise: Backed by a Qualified Horticulturist

We follow a detailed, rigorous process to create content that is helpful, factually correct and meets the highest standard of integrity.

Our 5-step process is:

1) We select an author from our pre-approved list.

2) The author creates content based on their knowledge of the subject.

3) We ask a professional with qualifications and experience to fact-check and review the content which we update accordingly, if applicable.

4) The content is checked by the site owners and published.

5) We review the content yearly to ensure it's still correct and relevant.

This guide was reviewed and fact-checked by qualified horticulturist Elizabeth Smith.

Explore: Elizabeth's profile and qualifications.

Meet The Author: Hannah Miller

Hannah is a keen gardener who grows organic fruit and vegetables in her Surrey garden and is moving towards a more sustainable lifestyle. 

She is also the proud grower of a dahlia and herb garden.

Hannah worked for the NHS for 12 years but also has a level 3 qualification in horticulture and is currently studying for her level 4.

More About Hannah Miller

Hannah Miller

Explore More of Our Content Below:

The Best Plants for a Low Maintenance Garden

We think these are the best plants for a low-maintenance garden but of course, no plant is 100% maintenance-free. Explore our list today. Start Here

Garden Plants For North-Facing Gardens

A shaded north-facing garden doesn’t mean you have to miss out on beautiful plants, explore our guide to plants for shaded gardens. Start Here

Plants for Winter Colour

Say goodbye to dull, grey winters by choosing plants that produce colour all through the cold season. From annuals to perennials we’ve got plants you’ll love. Start Here.

This growing guide was published by DIY Gardening

About Us

Hannah Miller
Danny Woodley