Outdoor Plants with Heart Shaped Leaves

12 Outdoor Plants with Heart Shaped Leaves

In Gardening, Lawn & Garden by Jamie

The classic heart is a favorite shape for many people, and it’s also a favourite of Mother Nature, as many plants have leaves, or even flowers, that echo that design. Let’s explore a few examples of plants and trees with heart-shaped leaves that you can grow in your own garden!

1. Gold Heart – Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis)

Dicentra spectabilis also known as Venus's car, bleeding heart, or lyre flower

It’s right in the name; the bleeding heart is an old-fashioned favorite that is still a popular choice for perennial gardens.

It’s not the leaves that sport the familiar heart shape, but rather the flowers that appear in late spring.

The arching stems are festooned with a profusion of pink and white hearts that hang down gracefully. They’re much loved by hummingbirds and pollinators.

The leaves of Gold Heart are an interesting variation on the classic bleeding heart, as they emerge a golden shade that changes to a bright chartreuse as the season progresses.

It will survive winters down to Zone 3, and thrives in a shady spot, where it will grow to about 60 cm (24 in) tall and across.

2. Hosta

Hosta

There are hundreds of different hosta varieties to choose from, ranging from tiny plants with leaves the size of a fingernail, to mammoths with leaves 45 cm (18 in) long. They’re hardy down to Zone 3.

However, big or small, one thing that many of these hardy perennials have in common is heart-shaped leaves.

For instance, giant hostas such as Empress Wu or Sum and Substance both have heart-shaped leaves.

Empress Wu has flat, deep green leaves, while Sum and Substance’s are a brilliant chartreuse.

At the other end of the size scale, Monster Ears mini hosta has bright green leaves and will stay about 25 cm (10 in) tall and across, making it perfect for a small space.

3. Cyclamen

Cyclamen

The hardy cyclamen is one of the loveliest plants with heart-shaped leaves, and it has the added bonus of blooming in late summer into the autumn when most perennials have ceased flowering. However, not all cyclamen varieties will survive a cold winter outdoors, so choose plants carefully.

Cyclamen coum, hardy to Zone 6, may even bloom in mild winter weather, and the leaves often maintain their good looks through the cold months. The heart-shaped leaves are streaked with patterns in colours like silver, gray, and white to add cold-season interest. The flowers can be deep red, pink, or white.

Ivy leaf cyclamen is hardy to Zone 5, and the extravagantly patterned leaves emerge after the flowering finishes in late October.

4. Lilac

Lilac

Lilacs have long been grown for their fragrant flowers that bloom in May, but the heart-shaped leaves also provide a lovely garden note all season.

Native to eastern Europe and Central Asia, lilacs were brought to North America with the settlers. As you drive through the countryside, you may be able to see where farmhouses used to stand because of the lilacs that still grow there.

Lilacs are hardy to Zone 3, and some varieties will even make it through a Zone 2 winter.

The leaves maintain a fresh, green look well into the autumn, when they turn to shades of yellow and red before falling.

5. Jack Frost (Brunnera)

Jack Frost (Brunnera)

Jack Frost is a variety of Brunnera, which is commonly known as Siberian bugloss. It’s hardy to Zone 3 and is usually grown for its striking foliage.

The heart-shaped leaves of Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ have a crackle-like pattern in brilliant shades of white and green.

In mid-spring it produces hundreds of tiny blue flowers with yellow centers, similar to forget-me-nots.

It grows best in semi-shade with moist soil, reaching a mature size of 30-45 cm (12-18 in) tall and across after a couple of years.

6. Violet

Violet

The violet is another old-fashioned classic that not only features lovely spring blooms, but also has long-lasting heart-shaped leaves.

The common blue violet is considered a weed by some, but its vigorous spreading ability makes it a good ground cover in areas you don’t want to mow, as it will thrive in both sun and shade.

As well, in mid-spring you will be rewarded with about a month of brilliant purple flowers that team well with spring-flowering bulbs.

If they are in your flower beds, after they have finished blooming, you can pull up and compost most of them.

On the other hand, the Viola Odorata, or sweet violet, has a lovely scent and a less invasive growth habit. They are hardy to Zone 4.

7. Grandpa Ott (Morning Glory)

Grandpa Ott

While it is technically a tender perennial, morning glories are usually grown as annuals in North America. They start blooming in late summer and continue right through to the first frost.

Grandpa Ott is a classic variety of this garden favourite, featuring a profusion of 7.5 cm (3 in) deep purple flowers with red stars at their centres.

The heart-shaped leaves are a bright green and form a dense background for the flowers.

Vines can easily reach up to 300 cm (10 feet) tall and 180 cm (6 feet) wide.

8. Katsura Trees

Katsura Trees

The Katsura tree, native to Japan, is hardy to Zone 4 and is an excellent landscape tree for North America.

While it produces insignificant flowers in spring, it is mostly grown for its small, heart-shaped leaves that turn from a reddish purple in spring, to a light blue-green in summer, and then finally a brilliant shade of golden yellow in autumn. The leaves also have a sweet smell in fall, with the nickname “caramel tree” as a result.

It will thrive in full sun or semi-shade, and will grow to 12 to 18 metres (40 to 60) feet tall at maturity.

9. String of Hearts

String of Hearts

You can grow String of Hearts outdoors year-round if you live in Zones 9-12, but in more temperate regions you will have to bring it in when frost threatens in fall.

The trailing vines of this tropical perennial grow in a tangled clump, and can be grown in either a hanging basket or trained up a trellis.

The tiny heart-shaped leaves have a dark green and silver marbled pattern, with green or purple undersides.

The waxy, pale pink flowers have a distinctive tubular shape and appear usually in summer and fall.

String of Hearts should be grown in bright, indirect light indoors, while a shady spot on a patio would a perfect place for it to spend the hot summer months.

10. Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum)

Devil's Ivy

While Devil’s Ivy is usually grown as a houseplant here in North America, you can grow it outdoors year-round in Zones 10-12.

Even in more northerly regions, it can be moved outdoors in summer, where it will appreciate the extra shot of hot, humid weather.

The glossy, heart-shaped leaves of Devil’s Ivy are a bright, light green streaked with golden yellow. It is also called Golden Pothos.

It is very unlikely that your Devil’s Ivy will bloom, but the profusion of attractive leaves will more than make up for that.

11. Taro

Taro

Taro plants are also known as Elephant Ears because they can grow to a truly impressive size.

There are many different varieties available, each with leaves with a distinctive coloration. While some varieties’ leaves are more elongated than others, they all have the typical heart shape.

Some varieties have solid green leaves, while others have patterns in shades of green, black, and even brilliant pink and silver.

While they can be grown as annuals in temperate zones, they are tropical perennials that will continue to grow year-round in Zones 8 and above.

12. Bermuda Buttercup

Bermuda Buttercup

The Bermuda Buttercup, despite its name, is a native of South Africa, and cannot survive cold winters, as it is only hardy to Zone 8.

Ironically enough, it’s now an endangered species in its home territory, but has become an invasive weed in other parts of the world.

The sprightly yellow flowers are bright and cheerful, and the heart-shaped leaves are arranged in groups of three, with a similar look to clover.

If you grow Bermuda Buttercup, keep it under strict control, as it can quickly spread into wild areas and choke out native plants.

Final Thoughts

Plants with heart-shaped leaves have a special charm all their own. Whether you are looking for trees or shrubs, hardy perennials or tender tropical plants, there are many different species to choose from.

About the Author

Jamie

Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.