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This spreading shrub is grown for its multi-colored, toothed, oval leaves. Use it as a houseplant or as an annual or container plant outdoors where it is not hardy. Flowers are small, green or pinkish, and generally not noteworthy.
With their white margins and mottling, the jagged leaves of 'Tasmanian Angel' are a real showshopper, and in late summer, 3-foot-tall, pink-and-cream flower stalks heighten the effect. The variegation may be less pronounced as the leaves age, but the plant still draws the eye. Use it as a multiseason container specimen or as a bedding plant. -Allan Armitage, Plants to know and grow, Fine Gardening issue #119
This plant has a rosette of broad sword-like, succulent, gray-green leaves. It provides a statuesque presence for sunny dry sites and under glass. It's also a classic plant for urns, thanks to the architectural splendor of its simple form.
Amaranthus cruentus makes a striking statement in beds or borders. Growing to 6 feet in height, it bears somewhat fuzzy-looking spires of purplish red flowers in summer, followed by seed heads that can be red, purple, or yellow. It is native to tropical regions of North and South America, and is one of three Amaranthus species cultivated for their grain.
This hardy annual has vibrant, ornamental red, yellow, and green foliage that lends a tropical effect to the garden. Small flowers, borne from summer to early autumn, are inconspicuous in comparison to the effect of the foliage. Cultivars feature yellow and maroon-shaded leaves, but the species still offers the showiest foliage.
This beautiful ornamental grass has upright, glossy green foliage and interesting, animated leaf tips that resemble party favors. Evergreen to 25°F, these plants gain reddish purple hues in the fall and winter. This plant is extremely adaptable—it thrives in desert and damp conditions, it is used for erosion control, and it works well in containers or as a screen. It looks especially beautiful when backlit by the sun.
This showstopper produces conspicuous, red-purple leaf sheaths with dense, purple domed flowerheads.
This unique species bears large, rounded leaves that resemble lily pads and seem to defy gravity.
False blue indigo's spikes of clear blue flowers in late spring can nearly carry a border by themselves. They also make great cut flowers. Large, inflated nearly black seed pods set in after flowering, giving this plant another interesting element. It is low maintenance and will look great in any natural or informal setting.
Boltonias are vigorous perennials grown for their sprays of aster-like flowers, which appear above clean, gray-green foliage. Their vigorous nature makes them suitable for naturalizing. They are also great in the border (and for cutting), but will benefit from frequent dividing to keep in bounds, and may be cut back in late spring for more compact plants.
Boltonias are vigorous perennials grown for their sprays of aster-like flowers, which appear above clean, gray-green foliage. Their vigorous nature makes them suitable for naturalizing. They are also great in the border (and for cutting), but will benefit from frequent dividing to keep in bounds, and may be cut back in late spring for more compact plants. 'Snowbank' produces masses of white flowers in late summer.
This upright, oval, dark green boxwood grows to about 3 feet high and wide. It flowers in spring, but it is grown for its handsome foliage. Use as hedging or topiary, or in a border.
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.
Japanese camellias shine in winter, with their glossy, deep green leaves and brilliant symmetry. Red, pink, and white lowers appear in spring, and they range from solids to stripes and from single cups of petals to tight double blooms. -Nellie Neal, Regional Picks: Southeast, Fine Gardening issue #127
This 3-foot-tall canna from the 1920s has impossibly deep, pure-rose flowers recalling orchids and leis. It's an old French variety.
Each of this plant's stunning lance-shaped leaves is the softest gray-green, edged subtly with a cream-colored pinstripe. These luminous 5-foot-tall plants are crowned with spires of delicate pink flowers with just a blush of salmon.
A great canna to start with if you're convinced you hate them is 'Madame Paul Caseneuve', from 1902. The pearly-bronze leaves and almost purple stems of this 3- to 5-foot-tall antique beauty are the perfect foil for its elegant, sensual flowers of soft pink shading to peach and apricot.
Growing to 6 or 7 feet, 'Sémaphore' features slender, dark-bronze leaves topped by spikes of narrow-petaled flowers of an unusual glowing color that's not quite yellow and not quite orange; perhaps flickering tongues of flame would be the best description. It is a Victorian classic from 1895.
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.
Cannas bear broad, smooth paddle-like leaves reminiscent of banana plants. The oversize leaves make it easy to create dramatic combinations with other, more finely textured plants. Each stout, fleshy stem is topped with attractive spires of brightly colored flowers. Cultivars vary widely in height, foliage, and bloom.
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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