Monrovia Plant Savvy
design, inspiration and practical ideas from the plant experts. June 2012
fabulous containers - flowers optional

Dear Savvy Gardener,


 

Flowering plants look great in a container for a few weeks or months, but when they are done blooming, you’ll either need to replant with something else, or just have a ho-hum container for the rest of the year. Perhaps it’s time to think beyond flowering plants and concentrate on foliage with fascinating texture and color.

Pairing plants with contrasting colored foliage can be even more eye-catching than flowers. Plus, foliage-centric containers become lasting art in your landscape that are easy to care for. No deadheading! You’ll still want to follow basic design techniques when creating a container, using plants that give you height, color and lushness that spills out beyond the container.

  Monterey Cypress
Wow! Bright golden-colored Monterey Cypress can create a vivid focal point. Paired with the dark Frosted Violet Coral Bells, chartreuse Angelina Stonecrop and fiery Gulf Stream Heavenly Bamboo, this container will be attracting attention all year round. *
beauty without blooms
  Hosta and Painted Fern leafgif   so simple, yet stunning

The thick, textured foliage of the Hosta complements the silver-tipped, airy fronds of the Japanese Painted Fern. When Jeff Carter created this, he included annuals for color, but when the blooms were spent, it looked even better without them! Other varieties of Painted Ferns, like Regal Red and Burgundy Lace , can add touches of red and wine colors. Hostas come in all sorts of colors and with interesting variegation. Try Big Daddy or Blue Angel for cool, blue foliage; or go for some bright golden colors like Hottsy Tottsy or Golden Prayers.


 
  Orange Marmalade Hosta
leafgif   speaking of Hosta...

Our new variegated Hosta varieties can stand alone and make a stunning container plant for a shady spot. Orange Marmalade has almost orange foliage rimmed with green. In this blue glazed pot, it makes a compelling focal point in the garden. Great Expectations has blue-green and chartreuse leaves; and Little Darling® has a dwarf, mounding habit and stunning bright green leaves with yellow centers. Hostas, or Plantain Lilies, are good for containers that will be in shade or partial shade.


 
  Foxtail Fern leafgif   a little shady

Foxtail Ferns (some folks call them Ponytail Ferns) are fabulous for architectural structure, as their long, fluffy plume-like stems seem to reach out in all directions. And they’re happy with a little shade. Boxwoods also like partial shade are easy care. Two of our new varieties have fantastic variegated foliage that maintains their color all year. Wedding Ring™ has rich, glossy green foliage with a lime margin that matures to gold as summer progresses. Golden Triumph has showy green and yellow leaves. Try using grasses to soften the edge of the pot and spill over. Sedge is a good choice for partial shade. Variegated Japanese, Bowles Golden or Fox Red Curly would be fantastic in a container.


 
  Shishigashira Japanese Maple

leafgif  

add some structure

Don’t be afraid to use small trees or conifers in a container. They’ll stay nice and petite, but provide height and a striking focal point. Try Swanes Golden Italian Cypress, which has bright golden yellow foliage; or Icee Blue® Yellow-Wood , the first of its type with blue-green foliage, and it’s a favorite of landscape designers for its pyramidal shape. Japanese Maples have such fantastic colors and are magical when a breeze ruffles their dainty leaves. While not evergreen, their bare branches provide interesting shapes in the winter. Shishigashira has red-purple leaves that turn orange in the fall. Butterfly is densely branched and its pink-tinged new growth is beautiful.


* Photo courtesy of Todd Holloway, Pot Incorporated
** Photo courtesy of Jeff Carter, Hamptons Garden