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Each flowering stem of this bulb produces eight to twelve flowers that open consecutively over a period of three to four weeks. The flowers are fragrant, white, and starry, and have a conspicuous red/maroon center. Its linear, sword-shaped, 2- to 3-foot-tall leaves resemble those of Gladiolus, but are more slender and graceful.
The purple or white pom-pom flowers of chives top aromatic stems in summer. The leaves are edible and have a mild onion flavor; the flowers can be used as garnishes. Plants grow in dense clumps to 2 feet high. Use chives in a cottage, herb, or vegetable garden, or in containers.
The drumstick allium has egg-shaped flowers in summer that start off green, then bloom and develop to pink and then clover red-purple. These plants are attractive in a bed or border, especially peeking up through other plants, such as roses, so that their nondescript foliage is hidden. Their vertical presence and eye-catching flower shape are valuable additions to the garden, and they naturalize freely.
Spikes of violet, star-shaped flowers top stems reaching from 2 to 4 feet in late spring. The species is native to western Oregon. 'Blue Danube' would be beautiful in a border, meadow, or containers. Camassia make good cut flowers.
This little elephant ear has velvety dark leaves with prominent green veins and a large silvery central blotch. It reaches about 2 feet high.
'Coffee Cups' is an unusual and relatively recent introduction. It has nearly black stems and cup-shaped leaves. 'Coffee Cups' is a vigorous grower, and, with a height of 6 feet, it's a good choice for the back part of a border. -Andy Cabe, Regional Picks: Southeast, Fine Gardening issue #120
The heart-shaped leaves of 'Illustris' are huge, and their dark highlights are stunning. This elephant ear is a lover of moist shade, but does best with a little dappled sunlight. It will tolerate boggy conditions. -Julia Jones, Fine Gardening issue #120
'Purple Tower' is a cultivar of the New Zealand native cabbage tree, frequently grown in greenhouses, as houseplants, or as large accent plants outdoors. It is hardy to Zone 10. The narrow, plum-purple leaves reach 3 feet long. The fragrant white flowers are small, but they are borne in large panicles in spring and early summer on mature plants. Plants grown in containers only rarely flower, however. Young plants are often sold as houseplants. Mature specimens have thick trunks with foliage at the top, resembling a palm tree. They are striking container specimens and can be plugged into a summer border. The species has naturalized in portions of California and the southern U.S.
This purple-leaved hybrid has Crinum bulbispermum in its blood, so it is more cold hardy than many other purple-leaved crinums. In spring, 'Sangria' sends up 2-foot-long leaves (it will stay evergreen in frost-free climates). 'Sangria' crinum serves as a superb substitute for phormiums, though it is somewhat less upright. It is grown for its foliage alone or for its pink flowers, which appear in the spring. -Andy Cabe, Regional Picks: Southeast, Fine Gardening issue #120
This is a very hardy, strongly aromatic eucalyptus with large leaves and white flowers. It makes a good specimen.
This species boasts stems and undersides of leaves with maroon spotting, and white flowers tinged with maroon. The flowers form on 24-inch-long, thick stalks bearing bottle-brush-like wands of tightly-clung florets, which are crowned by tufts of green bracts. As the common name implies, these unusual and magnificent inflorescences are reminiscent of pineapples.
This bulbous perennial has striking reddish purple, strap-like leaves and foot-long purple flowers that resemble pineapples in late summer. Grow in a sunny border, container, or greenhouse. Plants used outdoors may be overwintered in a frost-free location. The species is native to South Africa.
This outstanding cultivar boasts dark burgundy leaves that slowly change to olive green, and then revert back dramatically as the flowers fade. The flowers form on 20- to 30-inch stalks bearing bottle-brush-like wands of tight, smokey pink florets, which are crowned by tufts of purple bracts. As the common name implies, these unusual and magnificent inflorescences are reminiscent of pineapples.
Large, paddle-shaped leaves with prominent veins make this tree a standout in containers outdoors or as a houseplant. Native to topical regions of western and central Africa, fiddle-leaf fig has leathery, glossy, evergreen leaves and round fruit. In the wild, it can reach 100 feet tall and almost as wide, but its size is easily controlled in containers. It was a popular houseplant in the 1950s and 60s.
Through the fall and into winter, pincushion hakea provides beautiful cut flowers for the holidays; the foliage and seedpods are also great for arrangements. You can prune it into a bushy shape or a slender, small tree. As a member of the Protea family, pincushion hakea does not like phosphorus fertilizer, and like most Australian plants, it prefers to be well mulched so that its specialized roots can extract nutrients from the mulch layer.
A tropical tree by design, the Mexican fire bush freezes to the ground in winter in Zones 8-11, but grows up to 5 feet tall by summer's end. The erect, branched, woody stems bear simple copper-toned leaves with small orange flowers bunched along the tips. It loves the heat, and the more you can give it, the more vigorous it will be.
This bulb blooms in early summer with striking, sweetly-scented white and yellow flowers that appear on leafless stems up to 24 inches tall. Petals curve up to accent a daffodil-like cup, sometimes with green-striped tubes. Peruvian daffodil has long, strap-shaped, arching, dark green leaves.
This tender paperwhite is well-suited to forcing, blooming 4 to 5 weeks after planting. It produces 10 to 15 creamy-white flowers with pale-yellow centers on compact stems 8 to 10 inches tall, and exudes a mild, sweet fragrance.
This tender paperwhite is well-suited to forcing, blooming 3 to 5 weeks after planting. Each 14- to 16-inch stem brings forth 5 to 10 white flowers with golden-yellow centers exuding a delicate fragrance. It may require staking.
This tender paperwhite is well-suited to forcing, blooming 3 to 4 weeks after planting. It produces 10 to 15 white flowers per stem (12 to 14 inches tall) and exudes a musky fragrance.
Alliums All Season Long
Deer resistant and dynamic, these bulbs provide color from the first showers of spring to the last leaves of fall
by Stephanie Cohen
Find out what all the buzz is about by planting these colorful perennials
by Sally Roth
10 Shrubs for Summer Color
These vibrant bloomers give even the showiest annuals and perennials a run for their money
by Paul Cappiello
Enchanting Japanese Maples
Two experts pick their favorites based on color, shape
by Francie Schroeder
Q&A Moving houseplants outdoors for the summer
by Tim Pollak
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