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There are many cultivars available of this fast-growing annual. They are best used as bedding, edging, or container plants. Panicles of blue, pink, purple, or white flowerheads arise from oval, downy leaves in midsummer and continue until frost. They have a soft, fuzzy appearance and attract butterflies.
This early, compact bloomer grows to only about 6 or 7 inches tall. With its icy blue-purple flowers, it works well when planted tightly along the foreground of a bed. Its color blends easily with most other hues and textures. -Julia Jones, Designing with annueals, Fine Gardening issue #120
The spine-tipped leaves of this aloe grow in a beautiful spiral; mature plants have five rows of leaves growing either clockwise or counterclockwise. It is very hardy, but will rarely flower. A native of Lesotho, Africa, it is extremely endangered due to overcollecting.
Unlike many other shade garden plants with their cool blue colors, 'Cowardly Lion' rex begonia offers rich warm tones. Chocolate-colored leaf veins veil the golden leaves, which become darker with age and make a fine counterpoint to yellow-based foliage plants. -Rita Randolph, Rex begonias, Fine Gardening issue #120
'Escargot' takes its name from the snail-like curl pattern at the base of the leaf. The foliage is striking enough to stand on its own but it's a good mixer, too. Use it with other foliage plants and brightly colored blooms. This is an extremely popular Rex hybrid begonia. -Rita Randolph, Rex begonias, Fine Gardening issue #120
Like other Rex begonias, 'Fireworks' is noteworthy for the coloration of its foliage. Its silvery leaves are edged in purple and have a black burst of fireworks in the center. Use it in a container or shady garden, or grow it as a houseplant. -Rita Randolph, Rex begonias, Fine Gardening issue #120
The leaves of 'Green Gold' are predominantly silver with deep green veining. New leaves are edged in burgundy. The silver color brightens up shady areas. 'Green Gold' grows vigorously and harmonizes well with other shade plants. -Rita Randolph, Rex begonias, Fine Gardening issue #120
'Marmaduke' Rex begonia sports chocolate-colored speckles across golden leaves. The earth tones of 'Marmaduke' go well with solid-colored foliage plants and yellow or rusty-hued blooms. -Rita Randolph, Rex begonias, Fine Gardening issue #120
Unlike other Rex begonias, 'River Nile' isn't flashy. Its charm comes from the leaves, which are green and ruffled, with a deep bronze edging. -Rita Randolph, Rex begonias, Fine Gardening issue #120
'Stained Glass' is simply stunning. Ruby red leaves are rimmed in pewter with dark veining at the center and a rosy underside. This Rex begonia goes well with pink plants or flowers. -Rita Randolph, Rex begonias, Fine Gardening issue #120
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 rose-and-cream Calibrachoa is one of a kind. The unique markings on the petals and the plant's mounding habit make it a standout in hanging baskets and containers.
Calibrachoa is a relatively new genus of flowering plants. The first cultivars weren't released until 1992. This cultivar's self-cleaning, petunia-like flowers are painted in a sunny mix of orange, red, and yellow. It is an easy-to-grow, trailing perennial, often used as an annual in hanging baskets, window boxes, and other containers.
Calibrachoas are great alternatives to petunias. Superbells® Dreamsicle is cloaked with larger-than-usual, yellow-throated apricot-orange flowers. It can create a carpet of color or cascade beautifully from a container.
Clematis integrifolia is no longer only blue. This selection produces progeny with pink, white, and lavender blooms from midspring until late summer. The flowers are followed by attractive seed heads in fall. It has a compact, herbaceous form and grows to just 10 to 14 inches tall.
'Figaro' is a dwarf "landscape" dahlia with semi-double flowers in shades of red, pink, orange, yellow, and white. It works well as bedding and in containers, and blooms from planting time until frost.
Longspur barrenwort is a clump-forming, deciduous, rhizomatous perennial. Leaves, light green and flushed bronze when young, are heart-shaped with spiny margins. Four-petaled white, yellow, pink, or purple flowers, hanging in clusters, appear in mid- and late spring.
These compact tufts of 8-inch-long powder-blue leaves are well suited for edging and naturalizing in the rock garden.
A bushy, compact fuchsia, Shadow Dancer™ Ginger has pale pink and white flowers that dangle gracefully out of pots, baskets, or window boxes. The blooms attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Hardy in Zones 9-11, it can be grown as an annual.
'Dark Reiter', a fairly new cultivar, has a short mounded habit and dissected dark leaves. Bright lilac-blue blossoms appear in spring, and trimming the plant back after flowering encourages more blooms in fall and helps maintain its neat habit. 'Dark Reiter' is slow growing, making it perfect for a rock garden. Like many other geraniums, it does not appeal to deer. Pair silver-toned foliage plants with 'Dark Reiter' for a stunning effect. -Teresa Smith, Regional Picks: Northeast, Fine Gardening issue #120
Planting Spring Bulbs in Containers
by Richard Hartlage
VIDEO Forcing Bulbs
Trick your bulbs into blooming early
by Renee Beaulieu
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
Potting Soil Recipes
Cook up your own container mix that is suited to your plants
by Daryl Beyers
Potting Soil Ingredients
Here's a breakdown on some common container soil ingredients
by Daryl Beyers
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