Cordate is Latin for heart, which makes it the perfect botanical nomenclature for plants with heart-shaped leaves.

Merlot Redbud

Because this month is my seventh wedding anniversary, I want to share with you some of my favorite plants that have heart-shaped leaves. Here they are …


Although another favorite plant of mine — Oakleaf Hydrangea — doesn’t have heart-shaped leaves, Climbing Hydrangeas do. These hydrangeas love to climb and they do it well. It’s a somewhat slow-growing plant until it becomes established but then it really takes off! With this plant, you’ll have a super lush look with beautiful blooms in the summer. These hydrangeas are versatile as well because they do well in full shade or full sun. The best time to prune this vine will be after it flowers.


There are so many varieties of Hostas, I could go on and on and on and … well you get it. Hostas are a shade-loving perennial that I love because of wide selection of sizes, color (greens, whites, yellows, etc.) and textures that you can choose from. My wife Julie especially loves small varieties or those with wavy foliage.


(Commonly known as Elephant Ears or Dasheen)
There are many reasons to love this tropical plant, which is native to Asia but often used around the Knoxville area as an ornamental perennial. First, it has huge heart-shaped leaves, so what’s not to love about that? What’s more interesting, though (and often not thought of), is that this plant produces vegetables called corms that can be roasted, baked or boiled. We’ve eaten them roasted with other root vegetables or as chips. A related vegetable you may also find in the grocery store is called Malanga.

Taro (Elephant Ears)

Wild Violet

Often considered a nuisance, Wild Violet (not to be confused with the ornamental African Violet) can be a big help in your landscaping if you use it right. It can serve your yard well if you use it for erosion control on a steep slope or in a light drainage area. Most commonly, you’ll see these low-growing plants in partial shade where the soil is moist. They typically have purple blooms, but also come in pink and white varieties as well. Be careful where you choose to plant them, though, because they have a hardy root system and are resistant to herbicides. If you can find a way to love these lovely little plants with their heart-shaped leaves, you can use it outside of your landscaping, too. They’re edible and are said to have medicinal properties.

Redbud Trees

Shrubs and perennials aren’t the only plants that boast cordate leaves. Here in East Tennessee, you’re likely to find Redbud (see the Merlot Redbud pictured at the top of this post). Also, check out this variety, Ruby Falls, which has the added interest of a weeping form …

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If you need help putting some love into your Knoxville landscaping, call me at 865-765-5550 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

Happy anniversary to my wife Julie, who is my best friend and co-owner of Carex Design Group. She makes it possible for me to do what I love. I promise I’ll get you something more than a blog post for our anniversary!