Preview Party

Monday, February 21, 2011

Group 1: Color Today

Truly instant color today and for weeks to come. I do love pansies and that entire family acts the same, but too few of us add to the early spring dance party with taller plants that have amazing flowers, too.

Snapdragons bursting with yellow, coral and red shades will bloom through May

Dianthus call on tradition, some more fragrant than others in this family with carnations and sweet William. Love a mix: purple, pink and white Dianthus, in both solid colors and wild stripes.

For flowers even longer than you’d believe, look at heat tolerant forms of 2 plants I’ve tried before – and failed – to grow here. Then I grew these:

Lobularia ‘Snow Princess’ blooms from spring to July at Crystal Springs, spreads and blooms again

Lobelia ‘Sky Blue’ trials sent to me late in season opportunity to put them through the tortures of summer, swear this plant was blooming at my house in august

 

Group 2: Staying Power

Red Abyssinian banana paints deep patterns on big leaves that start in spring and keep right on bringing tropical texture and strong contrast in the summer garden.

 

Truly Tiny banana is a cute and sturdy plant that grows about 3 ft. tall and produces an edible but small raceme of mild flavored, medium size fruit. A great addition to patios, container growing, or borders.

 

Euphorbia

‘Diamond Frost’ Heat- and drought-tolerant plants; clouds of airy white flowers all season; low maintenance billowy balls in pots and beds

‘Cherry Cobbler’ Thai Giant succulent, drought tolerant waxy leaves and rich bracts, flowers and bracts like poinsettia. Looks like soft crown of thorns.

 

Papyrus ‘King Tut’ and ‘Baby Tut’ grasses can brighten a water feature or thrive in fertile garden beds. Each stem pushes out a whorl of leaves into a bright green pinwheel.

 

Sunpatiens medallion winner 2011 outrageously amazing plant

 

Supertunia ‘Pretty Much Picasso’ my personal favorite of this amazing group. ‘Supertunia’ selections bloom for months then you can cut back to stimulate new leaves and even more flowers.

 

Superbell Calibrachoa ‘Blackberry Punch’ is gorgeous and florific. My affair with these began with ‘Terracotta’ and goes on with each new introduction. ‘Superbell’ calibrachoa can grow upright in pots or trail from baskets to deliver abundant masses of tiny trumpets.

 

Zingiber ‘Midnight Ginger’ has glossy almost black lacquer-looking leaves flowers from base dark sulfur yellow cone pink flowers cone turns pink for great drama. A 2-3 ft tall, cold hardy perennial in zones 8-10; goes dormant below 38 degrees. Grow in shade lots of water easy

Group 3: Get to Know These Plants

Bronze leaf canna is not your grandmother’s cannalily. This one stands proudly upright, each pointed sword glowing when sunlight glows through the foliage. The orange flowers make a perfect complement to the shiny bronze leaves.

 

Bronze philodendron has huge split leaves and will not be overlooked in any container collection. A real eye-catcher, it’s even prettier up close.

 

Dieffenbachias are also called ‘dumb canes’ but they’re very smart plants, unbeatable in shade. Their stripes and patterns make for endlessly interesting leaves whether grown alone or in combination with ivies and ferns.

 

Begonia is my nominee for the next obsessive container plant collection. Here are 2 I’m crazy about, but I’ve got more than a dozen.

‘Escargo’ truly snail like

‘Marmaduke’ wild gold leaves with red veination golden retriever

 

Cajun hibiscus, developed in Louisiana, feature shiny green leaves and flowers big as salad plates in solids and wild patterns. Plants average 3’ tall and bloom through fall.

 

Hanging basket alternatives you want to know:

            Bleeding heart clerodendron Bleeding heart clerodendron holds its striking clusters of red and white flowers above dark green, heart-shaped leaves in baskets and urns. Unlike its relatives, this clerodendron is not at all invasive.

            Ivy geranium with less need for water and fertilizer and the ability to stand more sunlight and deliver great flowers, these babies are better than ferns to hang from a porch.

 

Sanchezia makes a fine companion to copper plant and other plants grow primarily for their stunning leaves. But its strongly variegated leaves with striped veins sport smart flower clusters above the foliage. This one is not to be overlooked!

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