Filling outdoor garden spaces with large-leaved plants eases the landscape with softened textures while developing architectural style with vibrant colors and dramatic shapes.
Giant leaves not only lusciously fill in garden space but also add luxurious tropical textures.
Low Light Equals Large Leaves
Growing extra-large leaves is an adaptation of some plant species to generate more surface area to absorb sunlight in low light conditions.
Similarly, growing giant leaves is thirsty work making large-leaved plants perfect for rain gardens, bogs, and borders of water features.
Foil With Foliage
Large leaves disrupt the scene, put things in perspective, make small spaces large, and rest the eye from busy views.
Incredibly useful, plants with giant leaves are not only excellent background plants but they also help break up the garden scenery of mixed smaller plants.
Super-Sized Leaves, Super-Fast Growth
Because their plant size and growth rate usually match their massive leaf status, give giant-leaved plants ample room to unfurl their sunshine collecting fronds.
3 Things to Consider with Giant-Leaved Plants
- Large leaved plants make for shady neighbors who might out shade and outgrow less gregarious plants.
- All that chlorophyl may attract some munching mouths including less desirable slugs and snails so consider protecting plants if needed.
- Giant leaves are easily damaged by wind and weather so consider providing protection or planting in sheltered areas in high-wind locations.
12 Best Outdoor Plants with Giant Leaves
1. Butterbur (Petasites)
Massive 3 ½ feet tall mounding plants grow 5 to 6 feet wide, unfurling giant heart-shaped leaves that reach 1 to 2 feet wide and bloom with dainty pink flowers in spring.
This edible and medicinal plant grows in partial shade in loam to clay soils that are consistently moist, surviving in zones 4 to 9.
Perfect for bog or rain gardens, butterburs are lovely at the edge of a water feature but can be aggressive so ensure to give it a boundary.
2. Hosta (Hosta)
Among the vast selection available of hosta varieties, some hostas do grow giant leaves on massive plants 5 to 6 feet tall and wide.
Incredibly popular, hostas are known to brighten shady gardens in an easy-going, low-maintenance way.
Hardy in zones 3 to 9, hostas prefer full to partial shade and rich moist soils.
3. Siberian Bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla)
The heart-shaped leaves of Siberian Bugloss grow up to 1 foot long on 1- to 2-foot-tall plants that colonize creating gorgeous groundcover.
Also known as false forget-me-not, Siberian Bugloss boasts sweet, bright blue flowers that bloom for about four weeks in spring.
In full to partial shade, Siberian Bugloss thrives in zones 3 to 7, preferring moist but well-draining soil.
4. Mayapple (Podophyllum)
The large umbrella-like leaves of Mayapple grow in woodland native gardens, forming appealing groundcover which blooms white blossoms in spring.
This colony-forming perennial plant spreads through underground rhizomes. Individual single-stemmed plants reaching 12 to 18 inches tall and each bearing 1 to 2 giant leaves.
In humus-rich moist soils, Mayapple thrives in part to full shade in zones 3 to 9.
5. Big Leaf Ligularia (Ligularia dentata)
The name says it all for the lilypad-like leaves of Big Leaf Ligularia. It bears massive 12-to-14-inch leaves on 3 to 4 feet tall plants.
Blooming sunny yellow rays of daisy-like flowers in summer, this herbaceous perennial has a dense mounding habit.
A moisture-loving plant, Big Leaf Ligularia tolerates even wet soils in full to part shade in climate zones 3 to 8.
6. Rodgersia (Rodgersia)
This handsome perennial is of the Saxifrage family. It welcomes a tropical jungle feeling to the garden with its large, leathery, palmate leaves.
Growing 3 to 5 feet tall and wide, Rodgersia’s fragrant blooms in creamy white to pink arrive in late summer.
At home bordering water features in climate zones 5 to 7, Rodgersia thrives in full sun to part shade in moist to wet soils.
7. Umbrella Plant (Darmera peltata)
The Jurassic quality of the enormous 24-inch leaves transforms garden spaces with the 3 to 5 foot tall and wide Umbrella Plants.
A member of the Saxifrage family, this west coast native plant blooms pinkish-white in early spring.
Tolerant of heavy shade and wet soils. Umbrella Plant provides good erosion control in zones 5 to 9.
8. Giant Rhubarb (Gunnera manicata)
Giant rhubarb is a massive, thirsty plant great for rain or bog gardens and best grown with tons of room for its ginormous 10-foot height and 14-foot spread.
It has a showy reddish-green flower spike in early summer which adds to the rainforest appeal of this gigantic plant.
Excellent used to border ponds, water features, or used in bog gardens, Giant Rhubarb is tolerant of shade and wet soils in zones 7 to 10, however, do note some Gunnera species may be invasive.
9. Sacred Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)
A stellar large-leaved tropical plant that is incredible when grown in a lotus tub or non-draining pot as an aquatic plant that reaches 4 to 6 feet tall.
The 24-inch leaves thrive in full sun. They are perfect for framing the intricate lotus flowers that rise just above the massive foliage.
Attention is required when growing Sacred Lotus due to the noxious weed invasive risk. With care, this plant adds tropical flair in zones 4 to 11.
10. Japanese Fiber Banana (Musa Basjoo)
If an exotic scene is the desire, there is nothing better than giant and hardy Japanese Fiber Banana with leaves reaching 6 feet long apiece on plants that are 15 feet tall and wide.
Not fruit-bearing, however, these tropical garden treasures produce creamy white to yellow blossoms.
Surprisingly hardy in zones 6 to 10, Japanese Fiber Banana is a thirsty, hungry herbaceous perennial. They prefer moist rich soils in full sun.
11. Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum)
More familiar as a perennial garden vegetable, the giant leaves of rhubarb can add lushness with a toughness not found in many tropical-looking large-leaved plants.
The bright red, edible stems add to the attractiveness of this hardy 3-foot-tall plant. As do the white flower spikes of summer.
This showy plant is also durable, hardy in zones 3 to 8, and tolerates full sun to part shade.
12. Elephant Ears (Colocasia esculenta)
Grown mostly for its giant leaves of unique colors, variegations, and patterns. Elephant Ear varieties are grown from tender summer bulbs in spring.
The 6-foot tall and wide plants are incomparable in generating an exotic appeal to garden spaces with their colossal heart-shaped leaves.
Elephant Ears grow in hardiness zones 8 to 10, or as an annual summer bulb in cooler climates. They prefer full sun to part shade, tolerating medium to wet soils.
Plants with giant leaves are incredibly useful in the garden to develop an architectural style. They also add softened textures, and create lush, luxurious scenes.