Our Favorite Foliage Plants for Biodiversity

Our first days of learning to farm were spent in a beautiful apple orchard. It was a gift in so many ways, and we learned so much about farming a monocrop on acres and acres of land. One big lesson we learned was that the primary crop was happier and healthier when we planted other crops with it. So when we planted rows of dahlias interspersed with annuals… there were more beneficial insects, more pollinators. There was healthier soil. The more flowers we planted, the greater the biodiversity. You can also use foliage plants to increase biodiversity. Here are our favorite foliage plants to use to increase biodiversity (and they’re also great to use in bouquets!)

Favorite Seasonal Foliage

This list is loosely arranged by season, starting in the spring and ending in the fall.

Thornless Raspberry or Salmonberry

Thornless raspberry is easy to grow, harvest, and use! It has a long vase life and it makes a beautiful addition to bouquets with its textured leaves. Salmonberry is very similar and also adds delicious texture to any type of bouquet.


Salal leaves have an extremely long vase life and their dark glossy leaves are perfect for weddings or any arrangement that you need to last for a little while.

Green Peony foliage in the spring and red foliage in the fall

Not only do you get the gorgeous peony flower to use as a focal flower in the spring, but you can also use the foliage all season long and into the fall. It’s a luscious dark green in the spring and summer and then turns to a brilliant red in the fall.

Apple Mint

Apple mint smells and tastes good, it’s easy to grow, and it makes a wonderful foliage addition to spring and summer bouquets. It can take over though, so you can grow it in big containers if you’re worried about it spreading.

Korean Mint

We love Korean Mint here on the farm! We use just foliage in spring and the flowers with the foliage in late summer. Korean mint does not spread with rhizomes like apple mint. It’s easy to start from seed and it does not spread or readily self seed, so you don’t need to worry about it invading spaces you’d prefer it not to be in.

Ninebark (physocarpus)

Ninebark is actually a large shrub and it makes spectacular foliage for bouquets. It flowers in the spring (look at those pretty pink blossoms!) and then you can use the foliage throughout the rest of the season.

Blueberry with green fruit in the spring and red foliage in the fall

I adore this in bouquets. I think the minty green little berries are so charming in early summer bouquets and the red foliage in the fall is pretty incredible. And you get blueberries on top of all that beautiful foliage!

Dusty Miller

This silvery green foliage of the Dusty Miller plant makes it attractive not only in your landscaping, but also in bouquets! It’s relatively easy to grow and comes back year after year with its stunning foliage.

Amaranth (Trailing and Upright)

Some of you eagle-eyed readers might notice that we put amaranth in our favorite filler flowers list and we are also including it in this list. Ok. Probably no one noticed that, but we did! That is because we primarily think of amaranth as a foliage before it starts making the florets (you can harvest it when it’s just leaves) but really it all works as a texture/filler/foliage. This is a super versatile plant and one that we think every cut flower gardener/florist should have! Sarah’s favorite upright green amaranth is Green Thumb because it’s hard to get an upright green amaranth that is that lovely emerald color and that gets tall enough, but this one fulfills both of those requirements. Sarah’s overall favorite amaranth, though, is Amaranth Mira.


The color of eucalyptus is heavenly. That soft minty gray green makes us swoon! We have our eucalyptus in our (unheated) greenhouse and it grows wonderfully in there. Eucalyptus dries really well too, so you could make dried bouquets or wreaths with it post-frost.

Flowering Crabapple in spring and fruiting Crabapple in fall

Crabapple is a very common landscaping tree and it has beautiful foliage from the spring all the way into the fall, depending on the type you have. Ask your neighbors and family members if you can harvest some of their foliage for bouquets! Here is a list of some common crabapple types.

Rhododendron or Azalea leaves

Here in Washington, you see rhododendron and azalea in landscaping everywhere. In fact, rhododendron is our state flower! Rhododendron and azalea bloom in the spring, but have green foliage year round. This makes it an easy “go to” foliage.


Nandina is also known as “heavenly bamboo” and has handsome foliage. Young foliage is pinkish and turns to a soft light green as it matures.


Our favorite hibiscus to use in bouquets is “Mahoghany Splendor” because it is so easy to start from seed and the dark foliage adds an elegant touch to late season bouquets. Hibiscus foliage needs to be used late season because it tends to wilt too easily if you use it early in the season. (If you need help figuring out how and when to plant your seeds, we have a whole series of blog posts about just that topic!)


Basil is another one of those plants that not only smells and tastes good (pesto anyone?!), but also makes a pleasant addition to bouquets. There are so many types of basil, too! Basil is better late summer because the stems are less likely to wilt.

Scented Geranium (pelargonium)

This late season foliage smells SO GOOD and we love the lacy structured look of the leaves in or bouquets. Geraniums are relatively easy to grow and produce lots of luscious foliage. Sarah’s favorite scented geraniums are peppermint rose and lemon fizz.

Snowberry foliage

Don’t these pink snowberries look just like pink gum balls growing on branches? Maybe it’s just me that thinks that, but this pleasant foliage adds an unexpected touch of whimsy and interest to any bouquet. Snowberries are also available in white, which is a gorgeous addition to wedding bouquets.

Cobaea vines

Cobaea scandens is a fantastic vining annual producing 2” bell-shaped purple blooms on 8” stems. (Hold blooms upside down to see why they’re nicknamed “cup and saucers.” They’re so cute!) If harvested when well hydrated, these lush, twirling vines and blooms hold very well out of water for design work.  


This is one of our most asked about foliages at the farm, particularly at our annual Dahlia Festival. At that time of year, the Blue Muffin viburnum is in full glory and our visitors can’t get enough of the foliage paired with the deep blue berries. Viburnum provides excellent foliage all season long!

Ornamental Kale

Ornamental kale can be used as foliage at the end of summer and into fall. It can even be used as an unusual focal “flower” in post-frost bouquets!