Tiarella cordifolia (tee-ah-REL-lah kor-di-FOH-lee-uh) is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial wildflower with dense clumpy foliage and billowing spikes of bright white flowers.
This member of the Saxifragaceae family of plants is native to the North American woodlands. It grows abundantly along stream banks and cool, moist forest floors in western Alabama, Minnesota, the Appalachian Mountains, and Nova Scotia throughout the summer.
The plant’s genus name, Tiarella, is Greek and means little tiara or turban. The specific epithet, cordifolia, is Latin and means heart-shaped, leaf-sowing. This is a reference to the plants’ attractive leaf shape.
You may also hear this plant referred to as:
- Heartleaved Foamflower
- Allegheny Foamflower
- Heartleaf Foamflower
- False Miterwort
The recurring use of the name, foamflower refers to the frothy, feathery appearance of the airy clusters of tiny, star-shaped blooms.
- Tiarella Cordifolia Care
- How To Propagate Heartleaf Foamflower
- False Miterwort Pest or Diseases
- 6 Suggested Tiarella Cordifolia Uses
- Cultivated Tiarella Varieties
- Create A Gorgeous Natural Garden With Tiarella Cordifolia
Tiarella Cordifolia Care
Grow and How To Keep Foamflower Healthy and Happy?
Size and Growth
During the first couple of growing seasons, Foamflower may stay relatively small, attaining a height of only about 6″ inches.
Within five years, the plant will have spread to a circumference and height of about 2′ feet.
Flowering and Fragrance
Heartleaved Foamflower blooms from early spring until mid-summer, producing an attractive ground cover along stream and river banks and in woodland settings.
The bright pinkish/white clusters of star-shaped blooms stand above heart-shaped, deep green leaves on erect spikes. The blooms’ long, slender stamens give the flower spikes a foamy, frothy look.
The individual flowers have five small petals tapering into stalked bases. Some varieties have scented blooms, and some have unscented blooms.
This shade-loving plant is also considered night-blooming, so scented varieties can be an excellent addition to a moon garden.
Heartleaved Foamflower Foliage
Even after the blooms have faded and fallen, Heartleaf Foamflower provides an attractive ground cover with lots of visual interest.
The plants’ leaves have between five and seven lobes and are about 4″ inches long.
They are deep green with darker purple markings in spring and summer. In the autumn, they transition to an attractive shade of bronze and provide a visually arresting fall color.
Allegheny Foamflower Light and Temperatures
This woodland wildflower likes a setting that provides full shade or dappled sunlight. Limited amounts of direct morning sun can be tolerated, but for the most part, all-day partial shade is best.
Allegheny Foamflower is sensitive to high heat. It is heat tolerant in USDA hardiness zones 1-7 and winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 3-9.
This means that in zones 1 and 2, you will need to provide protection from the cold in winter, and in zones 8 and 9, you will need to take care to shelter it from the heat in the summertime.
Watering and Feeding
When caring for Coolwort, remember that it thrives in cool, shady, moist settings. Your plants should do well with natural rainfall in a shady, sheltered setting.
In drought or very hot weather, provide these wildflowers with deep, occasional watering. When the top few inches of soil feel dry, water slowly, close to the ground.
Generally speaking, weekly deep watering should meet your plants’ needs. Avoid overhead watering, as this can lead to fungal growth on the leaves. Reduce (or cease) watering in the fall and winter months.
These wildflowers do not need fertilizer if their soil is well-amended with compost and other organic matter. In very poor soil, a half-strength solution of a complete, general-purpose fertilizer applied once, early in the spring and perhaps again early in the summer should suffice.
TIP: A thick layer of organic mulch will protect the plants’ roots against temperature extremes year-round while conserving moisture and gradually providing nourishment as it breaks down.
Soil and Transplanting Tips
False Miterwort can do well in a wide variety of soil types, ranging from sand to clay; however, as with most plants, it will do best in light, airy, well-draining, fertile soil well-amended with humus and organic matter.
While this plant is not picky about pH levels, it will do best in soil that is slightly acidic or neutral (6.2-6.5).
When planting in containers, choose a container to allow the plant its full two-foot spread. When planting in the landscape, allow a distance of two feet between young plants.
If you choose to keep your Foamflower as a container plant, choose a setting that provides deep shade and good shelter from extreme heat or cold and high winds. When the plant is elevated from the ground, it is more sensitive to these environmental challenges.
Can you grow Tiarella cordifolia as a houseplant?
This perennial plant can be grown as a houseplant if you have space for a large container to allow the roots and plant a 2-foot spread. Even so, it’s wise to understand that this wildflower does best in a natural, outdoor setting.
If you wish to try keeping Tiarella indoors, establish a setting that provides bright, indirect sunlight and shelter from hot or cold drafts.
Northern or eastern exposure is best if you keep your plant in a window. Remember to protect your plant against harsh afternoon sunlight.
The temperature should be consistently comfortable. If you are comfortable, your plant will be comfortable. Remember that the ideal temperature range for this plant is 40° to 60° degrees Fahrenheit, so avoid keeping your house too hot.
Use a good quality container plant mix with a high percentage of organic matter. Indoor plants repotted annually using high-quality potting medium will not need fertilizer.
Establish a soak-and-dry watering routine allowing the top couple of inches of soil to dry before providing a thorough watering.
Grooming and Maintenance
Keep Foamflower looking its best by planting it in a setting that protects it from harsh sun, high winds, and damaging weather. A natural woodland setting will provide just such an environment.
For the most part, this wildflower doesn’t need much in the way of maintenance. Remove dead or damaged foliage and spent blooms as needed.
If you want the plant to reseed itself, leave the blooms in place until seeds have formed and dropped.
Songbirds are very fond of seeds, so allowing your plants to go to seed will attract these friendly garden helpers to your yard.
Alternatively, you may gather seed before it drops to store or sow in a new location. You can either sow it immediately or store it in a cool, dry place and sow it in the spring.
How To Propagate Heartleaf Foamflower
Heartleaved Foamflower spreads naturally by seeds and rhizomes. It is easy to propagate through division or by sowing seeds onto prepared earth. Of the two methods, division is the most reliable.
Plants over 3 years old can and should be dug up and divided in the spring or fall to prevent overcrowding.
If you have mature parent plants available, you can divide them early in spring or autumn. The plants produce offsets or stolons throughout the spring and summer.
It is very easy to simply allow your Tiarella to reseed itself or to gather seed directly from the plant and sow it right onto the soil early in the spring or autumn.
If you don’t have access to a parent plant, you can purchase seeds online or in garden centers. Sow the tiny seeds directly onto the surface of the prepared soil early in the springtime after all the danger of frost has passed.
Cover the seeds very lightly with a dusting of soil to protect them and hold them in place. They need sun exposure to germinate.
You may also start seedlings indoors late in autumn and grow them through the winter. Young plants can be set out into the garden in springtime after all danger of frost has passed.
TIP: When allowing Tiarella to reseed itself, you will have better luck if you have several different plant varieties because they are typically self-sterile.
False Miterwort Pest or Diseases
This hardy, carefree wildflower resists predation by rabbits and deer and has very few pest and disease problems when ideal growing conditions are met.
Overwatering and/or poor drainage can lead to root rot and problems with pests such as snails and slugs.
Most insect pests avoid the plant; however, plants with weakened conditions may be infested by foliar nematodes and/or black vine weevils. Use systemic pesticides to do away with black vine weevils.
For nematodes, the only way to treat them is to avoid them in the first place. Be sure to get your plants from reputable nurseries. Always follow best practices by inspecting plants carefully before bringing them home and quarantining them for a couple of weeks upon arrival.
Is False Miterwort considered toxic or poisonous to people, kids, and pets?
Tiarella is entirely non-toxic and has many uses in folk medicine. Native Americans used many parts of the plant to treat ailments ranging from toothaches to wounds to intestinal distress.
Is Tiarella cordifolia considered invasive?
There are many native varieties of Tiarella in the United States, so the plant cannot be considered invasive. In fact, Tiarella cordifolia is listed as endangered in some places (e.g., Wisconsin and New Jersey) due to habitat loss.
Tiarella ‘Spring Symphony’ (Foamflower) // Wonderful NATIVE, Ground Cover for Shady Sites
6 Suggested Tiarella Cordifolia Uses
Allegheny Foamflower is a natural ground cover in a shady yard or garden. It is perfect for brightening a native plant garden or woodland setting. It’s a beautiful addition alongside a backyard pond or stream.
2. Conserve Soil & Water
Tiarella cordifolia is an excellent native plant alternative to invasive shady-place ground covers such as English Ivy.
It will do well in settings where soil conservation is needed. Its sturdy, complex root system battles erosion and captures water runoff.
3. Attract Pollinators
Foamflowers are very attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects and pollinators, so this pretty, low-growing wildflower makes an excellent ground-layer addition to a butterfly or pollinator garden.
4. Create a Border
The plants’ dramatic, bright white blooms make it a good choice as a flowerbed border or path edging. Scented varieties make a lovely addition to a moon garden.
5. Beautify Your Herb Garden
Because Coolwort has a number of uses in folk medicine, it can make a pretty addition to your herb garden.
6. Brighten Shady Spaces
Tiarella cordifolia is an excellent choice for fairly dry, deeply shaded settings under shrubs and trees. In deep shade, the plants’ moisture needs are lessened.
Cultivated Tiarella Varieties
In addition to native varieties, there are several cultivars of Tiarella cordifolia, including:
- Cutting Edge is a variety noted more for its foliage than its blooms. The leaves are deeply dissected and have strongly contrasting burgundy centers.
- Oakleaf variety has leaves similar to oak leaves with pinkish buds and blooms that gradually fade to white.
- Brandywine is an energetic variety with very large heart-shaped leaves, deep red veins, and large, cream-colored blooms.
- Running Tapestry is a variation on Brandywine, but its leaves are smaller and not as deeply veined.
- George Shenk Pink is a small, clumping variety with pretty pink flowers.
- Dunvegan has very deeply dissected leaves and pretty pink blooms.
- Heronswood Mist has leaves that are variegated with markings in pink and cream. Its flowers are pink, deeply scented, and abundant.
- Tiarella Appalachian Trail is a low-growing variety (4″ to 6″ inches) with scentless flowers which bloom from mid-spring through late summer.
- Tiarella Candy Striper has fragrant, showy blooms that rise to 10″ inches from mid-spring to late summer.
- Tiarella Crow Feather is a foot-high variety that produces tall, showy, fragrant blooms throughout the spring and summer months.
- Tiarella Jeepers Creepers is a low-growing, enthusiastically spreading variety with very showy, colorful foliage. Its blooms are nondescript and unscented.
- Tiarella Pink Skyrocket is another foot-high variety that produces pretty, pink, cone-shaped, unscented flower clusters from mid-spring to late summer.
- Tiarella Sugar & Spice is a very showy, foot-high variety. Its flower spikes are bright pink, and its maple-shaped leaves are bright green with sharply contrasting burgundy markings.
- Wherry’s Foamflower is a foot-high variety that is a delicate-looking hybrid that doesn’t spread by rhizomes. It has pale pinkish purple, unscented blooms, and dusty pinkish green foliage. It blooms from late in the springtime until early in the autumn.
Create A Gorgeous Natural Garden With Tiarella Cordifolia
Creating a beautiful, natural, shady place garden is easy with this happy-go-lucky native plant and its easily naturalized cultivars.
As mentioned in the section on propagation, it’s a good idea to choose several different varieties of Tiarella if you plan to allow your plant to naturalize and self-seed.
Follow the advice presented here to add Foamflower to your yard and garden.