An adaptation is a characteristic that enables plants and animals to survive in difficult environments. Large leaves are an adaptation common in plants that live in dark, tropical rainforests, allowing them to absorb as much light as possible. For gardeners, these architectural plants stand out and give a garden character. Similarly, bright colours are visual adaptations that flowers develop to attract animals and insects to pollinate them. Many plants have large leaves and red flowers.
Translating the botanical name of plants is a good way to create a quick shortlist for a specification. Plants with large leaves may have "macrophylla" or "giganteum" in their name, and red plants may include the word "rubra" in their name. For example, Trillium chloropetalum var. giganteum is a larger, cherry red version of the usually white flowering, woodland perennial; Filipendula rubra is a large-leaved perennial with red-pink flowers that thrives in boggy sites.
The leaves of some plants with red flowers are excessively large. Rheum palmatum "Atrosanguineum," for instance, is a clump-forming perennial with crimson red flowers and leaves up to 2 1/2 feet across; the plant reaches up to 6 feet in height and spread. Musa "African Red" is an ornamental banana plant with blood-red bracts and large, palmlike leaves; it grows up to 6 feet tall. It is important to situate such plants so they don't suffocate other plants in a garden.
Suitable for Borders
Some large-leaved, red-flowering plants are suitable for borders. Rodgersia aesculifolia var. henrici is a clump-forming perennial suitable for boggy gardens. The name "aesculifolia" is for the plant's foliage, which looks like horse chestnut leaves. Ricinus communis "Impala" is a fast-growing evergreen shrub treated as an annual. Its bronze leaves can reach 12 inches long, and the plant produces small red flowers in summer. Phormium tenax is an evergreen perennial that grows from 3 to 6 feet in height with a 1-foot spread; its tubular red flowers appear during summer.
Not all large-leaved plants with red flowers are perennials. Crocosmia "Lucifer" is a clump-forming corm that reaching up to 3 feet tall but spreads only up to 10 inches. It bears orange-red flowers in summer. Crocosmia masoniorum, which is slightly smaller than Crocosmia "Lucifer," blooms from late summer to early autumn. Canna "Assault" is also summer-flowering, producing scarlet flowers and growing up to 4 feet tall with a 2 foot spread. It is classed as a rhizomatous perennial but referred to as a bulb.
Some plants with large leaves and red flowers are more suited for conservatories because they cannot tolerate temperatures less than 50F, such as Clivia miniata, an evergreen rhizome with long, strap-shaped leaves ranging from 16 to 24 inches and orange or red flowers.