Why Gold Foliage Has Become the Darling of Plant Lovers

We are awash in flowers, and that is a good thing. But flowers are fleeting, certainly on perennials and shrubs, and those marvelous flower colors can quickly fade. That is one of the reasons why foliage color has become so important to designers and landscapers. Plants produced for foliage are also faster and quicker to turn over for the grower, while designers and landscapers understand that their color palettes persist for much of the season. We only have to look to coleus to realize the importance of leaf color.

Gold Foliage Illuminates the Landscape

One of the foliage colors that has skyrocketed in popularity in the last 10 years is gold. Ask yourself how many golden plants were around before ‘Margarita’ sweet potato came to the market in the late 1990s. Gold has become the darling of designers and landscapers because it brightens the shade and is one of the first colors in the landscape that draws your eye. This is well known, and not just in the plant world. The main reason that tennis balls were changed from white to yellow is that the eye picks up that shade of color so readily.


Let’s consider just a few of the more golden selections for foliage color out there. You may assume there are dozens of plants to choose from, but there are fewer than you think. Here are a few that come to my mind:


Salvia ‘Golden Delicious’: This variety has outstanding foliage, handsome red flowers, and great foliar fragrance.
Begonia ‘Canary Wings’: New for 2019, ‘Canary Wings’ is a Dragon Wing with golden foliage and beautifully contrasting red flowers.
Duranta ‘Cuban Gold’: This is a little-known genus, but it is the best of the compact golden forms. Plants thrive in the heat.


Hosta ‘Coast to Coast’: Lots of golden hostas, but this variety is vigorous and remains golden throughout the heat of summer.
Dicentra ‘Gold Heart’: An old favorite, with wonderful foliage and red flowers in the spring. Look for ‘White Gold’ in 2019.
Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’: A great groundcover, the best one for gold of which I am aware.
Sedum ‘Angelina,’ ‘Lemon Ball’: These sedum have extraordinary color in spring that fades in summer, but both are still exceptional golden choices.
Carex ‘Everillo,’ ‘Bowles Golden’: ‘Everillo’ is the “new” golden carex on the block. It absolutely shines. ‘Bowles Golden’ has been a mainstay for years.
Heuchera ‘Appletini,’ ‘Pretty Pistachio’: There are many golden heucheras, but these two are relatively new and really vibrant. Red flowers are a bonus.


Deutzia ‘Chardonnay Pearls’: This deutzia emerges with golden foliage, smothered with white flowers, in late spring, but the foliage remains handsome all season.
Aralia ‘Sun King’: This is a favorite that lights up the shade.
Spiraea ‘Gold Mound’: Another no-brainer that has been used for decades as one of the finest plants for foundation plantings or in the landscape.