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This low-mounding perennial has lobed, silver-edged foliage and small yellow flowerheads in autumn.
A well-behaved perennial from the mint family (Lamiaceae), variegated calamint has pale-green, oval leaves with strong white marbling. It sends up a wealth of clear-pink tubular flowers that muster an army of bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds from mid- to late summer. It’s eye-catching both in and out of bloom and has a wonderful minty fragrance all season long.
This vigorous 5- to 6-foot plant sports fascinating foliage colors. Spring leaves emerge an intense purple and are soon striped with green, yellow, pink, and red. Vivid orange flowers appear in summer on this quick multiplier.
This clumping, drought-tolerant grass is one of the best pampas grasses you could grow. It has the showy, late-summer plumes common to this group, but they grow straight up, not willy-nilly like many other varieties; they eventually stand 4 to 6 feet above the foliage. Even better news is that this cultivar does not set seed, so it is noninvasive. The foliage features distinct golden edges, which, for a grass, usually menas that it loves shade or moisture. But 'Gold Band' tolerates heat and drought, making it great for large containers, and it can handle coastal conditions, too.
This hybrid has petite green-and-cream variegated foliage with a hint of pink on the undersides. It produces chartreuse and apple green bicolored bracts on airy stems.
'Midnight Rose' is a striking heuchera with burgundy leaves heavily splashed with hot pink. The plant grows to 10 inches tall and 16 inches wide and produces small flowers in spring, though this plant is grown primarily for its foliage. Grow it in garden beds, as an edger, or in containers, where it will blend well with a multitude of other plants.
Chameleon plant lives up to its name, with red and yellow variegated heart-shaped green leaves. Its scrambling growth habit may overwhelm its neighboring plants, so grow chameleon plant in a window box or a hanging basket, where its growth can more easily be controlled. -Debra Lee Baldwin, Regional Picks: Southern California, Fine Gardening issue #127
This mound-forming shrub has white leaf margins and blue or pink lacecap inflorescences.
This sweet potato vine is blessed with leaves that are edged in pink. Use it in containers, as a groundcover, or in beds and borders. Growing it with pink-flowered plants calls attention to the variegation.
Beautiful variegation brightens the green and grey mottled foliage. A wide creamy-golden margin blends to the edge of the cut-leaf foliage. Its spreading branches mingle softly with its garden neighbors. Blooming in early fall, 12- to 15-inch stems produce light lavender aster-like flowers with a yellow center.
‘Pink Chablis’ has pink flowers above silvery gray leaves edged with dark green. These trailing plants make fine ground covers or cascaders.
From May to frost, whatever the temperature, this plant's creamy yellow markings do not fade. It looks good in containers or in garden beds, and you can use it in the foreground or as a focal point in distant plantings. Variegated tapioca attains a height and width of 3 to 4 feet. It is normally grown as an annual, but can be overwintered indoors. -Allan Armitage, Plant picks, Fine Gardening issue #121
An oversize tender perennial, blood banana has large, fleshy, rubberlike leaves with dark markings. The foliage is green with random reddish purple blotches. On mature plants, orange or red flowers develop into inedible orange fruits. -Julia Jones, Designing with annuals, Fine Gardening issue #120
'Pesto Perpetuo' basil not only produces copious amounts of leaves for cooking but also is easy on the eye. It has creamy white variegated leaves and a columnar habit. It does not flower, so nothing will detract from the foliage.
'Crystal Palace Gem' was first introduced in 1869 and has been a star in the garden ever since. It was named for Joseph Paxton's elaborate glass house designed in 1851 for London's Great Exhibition in Hyde Park. Like its namesake, the plant is showy, with its round chartreuse leaves with a midgreen center and its salmon-red flowers. 'Crystal Palace Gem' looks good from spring until frost. -Marty Wingate, Plants to know and grow, Fine Gardening issue #120
A refreshing new look to an old time favorite ornamental grass! Pennisetum ‘Fireworks’ is the first variegated purple fountain grass. The midvein is the typical burgundy color and is flanked by hot pink margins. Produces beautiful red-burgundy foxtail flowers. Great accent plant and excellent in containers. -Santa Rosa Gardens
As the name implies, this plectranthus has green leaves with lime green edges. Some of the leaves are entirely lime green. It looks great mingling around the feet of perennials, shrubs, and annuals.
This bamboo has showy variegated leaves of green and gold in an irregular pattern of stripes. It is a running bamboo, making it good for naturalizing and filling in or for hedging, but it may need to be controlled by underground barriers. It grows to about 5 feet high.
This variegated cultivar offers white-edged leaves with pink tints on a compact plant to 1.5 feet tall. It bears light lavender-blue bell-shaped blossoms in spring.
This coleus has medium, scalloped, pale pinkish green and medium green leaves with raspberry undersides.
Stylish Shady Containers
Low light doesn't have to cramp your creativity or limit your plant choices
by Karen Chapman
Container Plantings in the Shade Yield a Spectacular Garden
You don't need a lot of sun or even access to the soil to have a lovely garden
by Gary Keim
Conifers for Shade
Yes, you can grow evergreen trees and shrubs in shade. Who knew?
by Christine Froehlich
10 Combinations for Shade
The secret is in using color to pump up the interest in low-light spots
by Inta Krombolz
Potting Soil Recipes
Cook up your own container mix that is suited to your plants
by Daryl Beyers
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