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‘Ruby Ruffles’ has frilly, fingery foliage with ruby centers and chartreuse edges. It is a relatively compact trailer. Coleus are tender tropicals that are generally grown as annuals because they are hardy only in Zone 11. They are easy to grow, reliable plants known for their colorful foliage. Blue to white nettle-like flowers bloom in racemes in summer, but are not showy and tend to visually detract from the attractiveness of the plants.
‘Swallowtail’ puts on a fantastic display of texture and color. Its rippled and deeply scalloped leaves are a remarkable lemon yellow, with a lettuce-green and wine-red river flowing through the center of each one. It grows to 24 inches tall.
The 14-inch-tall cultivar ‘Trailing Bleeding Heart’ has hot fuchsia-pink leaves ringed with purple and a band of lime green.
‘Trailing Salamander’, which grows 14 inches tall, has oval, near-black leaves edged in bright lime. Its neutral color scheme makes it a choice filler for containers. It looks good with almost anything. Coleus are tender tropicals that are generally grown as annuals because they are hardy only in Zone 11. They are easy to grow, reliable plants. Blue to white nettle-like flowers bloom in racemes in summer, but are not showy and tend to visually detract from the attractiveness of the plants.
26-inch-tall ‘Vulcan’ has a complex color scheme: crimson with an undercurrent of reddish rose, enhanced by brushes of black that heighten the richness of its crimped, puckered leaves. A defining edge of lemon yellow causes the leaves to stand out from one another instead of blurring into a solid mass of color. ‘Vulcan’ makes such a dramatic statement that a single plant can carry a scene for the entire season. Use it to brighten a dull stretch of spring-blooming plants when the main show is over, or combine ‘Vulcan’ with asters and mums that don't contribute much to the garden until late summer.
Green and cream never looked so good. This versatile color combo makes 'Alligator Tears' a go-to for foliage in container gardens.
In early autumn, this species produces elegant, wand-shaped flowerheads atop wiry stems with blue-green, linear leaves. It is found in open woods and along woodland edges, and prefers some shade. It responds well to rich soil, but can tolerate dry soil also.
'Goldrush' heralds the coming of fall with masses of tiny, yellow flowers for four weeks in August and September. Its compact size—about a foot tall—makes it a great candidate for a rock garden or border edge.
This species is aptly named for its distinctive crooked stems that bend back and forth at 45° angles between nodes. It bears starry, medium-yellow flowers atop 1- to 3-foot tall stems.
This is the first goldenrod to bloom, featuring bright yellow, plume-like panicles in midsummer. It has dark green leaves along reddish stems, which form a vase-shaped clump when mature.
This is one of the smallest species of goldenrod, topping out at only 4 to 6 inches high in poor soils, and 2 feet high in fertile soils. It is considered a garden-worthy species, with gray-green leaves that form clumps and languid, one-sided yellow plumes. It is tolerant of both sandy and clay soils.
This lovely goldenrod has velvety leaves that are gray-green in summer and dusky rose in autumn. It has broad, flattened clusters of rich yellow flowers, which create a striking display on stems 2 to 5 feet tall.
This species has open, tree-shaped flower clusters that radiate out like a fountain. It has given rise to S. rugosa 'Fireworks'. It can grow to 7 feet tall and blooms in mid- to late autumn.
This eye-catching cultivar has flower clusters that radiate out in all directions and resemble streaming yellow fireworks. Its form is truly unique and enchanting. It reliably provides end-of-season color in blazing shades of yellow. It grows to 5 feet tall and provides good structure in the garden all year.
This garden-worthy species has dramatic, bright yellow flowers that are arranged into erect, pointed clusters. It has deep reddish stems that grow to 3 feet tall. It blooms in late summer and early autumn.
This outstanding cultivar forms a neat, 1-foot tall groundcover. It has dense, branched panicles that splay upward and outward whimsically, resembling a mass of elegantly bunched bouquets.
This shrubby, woolly perennial is native to the warmest, dry regions of the US and Mexico. Its large, rose-like salmon-colored flowers appear in loose clusters from spring to frost. It grows to 3 feet tall and almost as wide, and can bloom nearly year-round in warm regions.
This deciduous, terrestrial orchid has linear, acute leaves 2 to 10 inches long. At summer's end, it produces sweet, vanilla-scented, 1- to 3-foot spires of white flowers that last for weeks and hold up well as cut flowers.
This bulbous perennial has clumps of strap-shaped, mid-green leaves. Each stem, less than 1 foot tall, bears a solitary scarlet to deep crimson flower in late spring or early summer; established clumps may bloom again later in the summer.
This mat-forming perennial has rosettes of furry, silvery-gray leaves to 4 inches long. In summer, it bears gray spikes tipped with tiny, pink-purple or violet flowers. This plant crowds out weeds. 'Silver Carpet' is a non-flowering cultivar. 'Big Ears' has 8- to 12-inch-long, grayish-white felted, mid-green leaves.
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These vibrant bloomers give even the showiest annuals and perennials a run for their money
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Two experts pick their favorites based on color, shape
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Q&A Moving houseplants outdoors for the summer
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