8 Great Plants for Wow!
Joseph De Sciose and Allen Rokach

Get Growing

Southern Living's Steve Bender picks the season's horticultural showstoppers and problem-solvers.

Forgive me if this story seems a tad judgmental, but giving plants the thumbs-up or thumbs-down is pretty much what I do. So it fills me with rapture to present these surefire winners. Each is inexpensive and easy to grow, so what are you waiting for?



8 Great Plants for Wow!
Joseph De Sciose and Allen Rokach

Heavenly Hydrangeas

Southerners can't get enough of French hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla). We'd love for them to bloom, not just in summer, but through fall too. Three selections make the dream come true: 'Endless Summer,' 'All Summer Beauty,' and 'Penny Mac.' Each of these hydrangeas should bloom repeatedly until late fall, although they may need a year or two in the ground first. Their flowers will be blue in acid soil (below pH 7) and pink in alkaline soil (above pH 7).

French Hydrangea
Type: shrub
Size: 4 to 6 feet tall and wide
Light: morning sun, light shade in afternoon
Soil: moist, fertile, well drained
Water: likes lots of water during warm, dry weather

SOURCE: Available at garden centers.


Champion Rose
Joseph De Sciose and Allen Rokach

Champion Rose

Hate to spray? Hate to prune? Then try 'Knock Out' rose, the most acclaimed landscape rose of all time. It impresses people everywhere, never gets black spot, forms a tidy mound of handsome foliage, and blooms continuously from spring through fall. Plant 'Knock Out' rose in long sweeps, add it to a mixed border, or grow it in containers. Then give your sprayer the boot.

'Knock Out' Rose
Type: shrub
Size: 3 to 4 feet tall and wide
Light: full sun
Soil: moist, fertile, well drained
Spraying: unnecessary
Water: thoroughly during warm, dry spells
Blooms: continuously in mild and warm weather



8 Great Plants for Wow!
Joseph De Sciose and Allen Rokach

Make a Wish

Think impatiens and caladiums are your only sources for color in shade? Then it's high time you tried wishbone flower (Torenia fournieri). Blooming from spring to autumn, its blossoms resemble miniature gloxinias with wishbones in their centers. I particularly like the spreading Summer Wave Hybrid wishbone flower, which looks great growing in hanging baskets and forms dense mats in flowerbeds. It takes more sun than other wishbone flowers and doesn't stop blooming when summer gets hot -- another wish fulfilled.

Summer Wave Hybrid Wishbone Flower
Type: annual
Size: 8 to 10 inches tall, twice as wide
Light: shade or partial sun
Soil: moist, fertile, well drained
Flower colors: violet, blue, and magenta
Water: regular

SOURCE: Available at garden centers.


8 Great Plants for Wow!
Joseph De Sciose and Allen Rokach

Jungle Love

The first time I saw 'Jungle Gold' impatiens, I considered sneaking over at night and stealing it. It's so cool -- yellow impatiens with flowers that look like orchids. Unlike dwarf forms of impatiens, this one becomes a stout little shrub with thick, upright stems. Clusters of butter yellow flowers with dark red markings inside stand tall atop glossy foliage. (What other shade plant gives that color in summer?) A bit slow to start flowering at first, 'Jungle Gold' takes off as the summer wears on. Plant a sweep in fertile soil, or grow it in a pot.

'Jungle Gold' Impatiens
Type: annual or frost-tender perennial
Size: 15 to 18 inches tall and wide
Light: shade
Soil: moist, well drained
Water: often during warm, dry weather

SOURCE: Available at garden centers.


8 Great Plants for Wow!
Joseph De Sciose and Allen Rokach

Flower Power

Dragon Wing Hybrid begonia requires a little bit of faith on your part. When you buy it in a four-inch pot, it'll be all foliage and no flowers. But stick this plant in a flowerbed, hanging basket, or planter, and it will quickly blossom into a dense mound of lush, glossy leaves topped with red or pink blooms. True to its name, it loves summer's fiery weather. This plant won't stop blooming until an autumn freeze. Just give it moist, fertile, well-drained soil and filtered sun. It doesn't even have any serious pests for you to worry about. So just sit back, and enjoy the show.

Dragon Wing Hybrid Begonia
Type: annual or frost-tender perennial
Size: 12 to 15 inches tall, 18 inches wide
Light: filtered sun
Soil: moist, fertile, well drained
Water: regular



8 Great Plants for Wow!
Joseph De Sciose and Allen Rokach

Black and Beautiful

If you really want people to notice your garden, plant something with enormous purplish-black leaves. The best candidate I know is 'Black Magic' elephant's ear (Colocasia esculenta 'Black Magic'). Growing from a tuber, this tropical-looking marvel sprouts an army of arrowhead-shaped leaves up to three feet long that are the color of night. Try combining it with yellow or orange flowers or with finely textured plants, such as ornamental grasses. Because it tolerates wet soil, you can plant it at the edge of a pond or in a pot that lacks a drainage hole.

'Black Magic' Elephant's Ear
Type: perennial from tuber
Size: up to 5 feet tall and wide
Light: sun or light shade
Soil: fertile, wet or well drained
Water: ample
Divide: Tubers can be divided in late fall or early spring.
Nice to know: The bigger the tubers, the bigger the leaves.

 


8 Great Plants for Wow!
Joseph De Sciose and Allen Rokach

Thrilla in 'Magilla'

Talk about gaudy. When 'Magilla' perilla is doing its thing, you can probably spot it from the International Space Station. Though it looks like a coleus, it's actually an incredibly vibrant selection of wild basil (Perilla frutescens). Its leaves combine colors of hot pink, cream, mint green, and burgundy. 'Magilla' exults in hot weather, developing into a dense shrub about three feet tall and wide. You won't find a better plant for a container. You can also mass it in a border. Provide light afternoon shade to avoid sunburning the cream-colored centers of the leaves.

'Magilla' Perilla
Type: annual or frost-tender perennial
Size: 3 feet tall and wide
Light: sun in morning, light shade in afternoon
Soil: moist, fertile, well drained
Water: regular
Pests: none serious



8 Great Plants for Wow!
Joseph De Sciose and Allen Rokach

One Wonderful Yucca

If you think of yuccas as vegetative versions of Vlad the Impaler, check out 'Banana Split' curve-leaf yucca (Yucca recurvifolia, also known as 'Monca'). It features gracefully cascading leaves with soft, nonlethal tips. And what color! Golden leaves with gray-green margins light up the garden. Combine this yucca with shrubs having coarser, dark green leaves, such as hydrangeas or common camellias. It's also great in a container or a massed planting. Give it well-drained soil, and go easy on the water.

'Banana Split' Curve-Leaf Yucca
Type: shrub
Size: up to 6 feet tall, 4 feet wide, smaller in containers
Light: sun or light shade
Soil: well drained, tolerates drought
Water: moderate
Pests: rust on leaves
Added bonus: tall spikes of white flowers in summer

SOURCE: Available at garden centers.



Printed From:
http://www.myhomeideas.com/outdoor-living/gardening/8-great-plants