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This basal branching cordyline combines the rugged easy-care attributes of its cordyline cousins with an unusual mix of shiny dark color, compact bushy form, short stems and cascading grass-like leaves.
'Route 66' features big, bold, bicolor blooms. A rich ring of burgundy surrounding the flower center bleeds out to the very tips of the yellow petals. Narrow, deep-green foliage forms vigorous, uniform clumps.
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.
A chocolate scented flower! Dark red-brown, sometimes almost black, velvety flowers on long, slender, reddish brown stems bloom from early summer to autumn. Chocolate cosmos is a tuberous-rooted, tender perennial native to Mexico that can be overwintered indoors where not hardy. Grow in a border or in containers where the flowers can be appreciated up close. They also make good cut flowers.
Abundant eye-catching, brillliantly red, tubular flowers appear in midsummer atop bold, slightly arching, sparsely branched 3-foot-tall stems. Crocosmia's mid-green leaves are pleated and swordlike.
Montbretia looks like a small gladiolus until it blooms in late summer, when abundant sprays of orange, gold, or yellow star-shaped flowers are held by gracefully thin, arching, zigzag stems rising from a cluster of pale green, sword-shaped leaves.
This bold-colored cuphea is a compact, mounding subshrub covered with dark-centered, cherry red blooms centered with a deep purple throat and slightly ruffled petal edges. Flowers are larger than those of the species. This sun-loving plant can reach up to 3 feet in height and width.
Totally Tempted™ cuphea has nonstop, bright red summer flowers that don't need deadheading. It doesn't mind summer heat and has a more compact habit than most cultivars in this species, growing to just a foot tall and a little wider.
This tireless bloomer is best known for its small, tubular flowers, each colored in vivid orange hues and tipped with white, like the ash on a glowing cigar. Each plant creates a mass of slender branches with lance-shaped, mid-green leaves. At the tip of the branches are fireworks bursts of unusual cigarlike flowers, each 1-1/4 inches long and softly hairy. Though the flowers look orangey, they are actually colored red and shaded with green-yellow.
Australian tree fern has dark green fronds that can reach 12 feet long. Its stem elongates into a trunk-like structure, giving the plant the appearance of a palm tree. Humidity is essential to growing this plant well. Use it as a specimen plant, in a container, or in a greenhouse.
Cardoon is an architectural splendor with bold texture, thanks to its large, prickly, almost dagger-shaped gray-green arching leaves and a statuesque, vase-shaped frame. It is topped with round, purple, thistlelike flowers in midsummer. Cardoon can reach up to 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide.
This exotic-looking beauty has a fantastic bold form and strong appeal. Its pendulous leaves sit on tall, upright stems. King Tut® is a rapid grower that makes an impressive centerpiece in the landscape. It likes wet places like water gardens or waterside and is perfect for containers without drainage holes. This papyrus is easy to grow and untroubled by pests or diseases.
'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.
'Gallery Art Deco' is a little taller than the other plants in the Gallery series. It grows to a height of 2 feet and bears 4- to 5-inch-wide peach/apricot blooms. Petals are outlined in burgundy. 'Gallery Art Deco' provides lots of large flowers for a long time, and it is a perfect choice for containers. -Alastair Gunn, Dahlias that deliver, Fine Gardening issue #121
Of the maybe 10,000 named dahlias introduced in the 1800s—when dahlias ranked right up there with roses in popularity—only three survive. One of them is 'Kaiser Wilhelm', introduced in 1892. Its 3-inch flowers have neatly curled petals of soft custard-yellow brushed with burgundy, and a green button eye just like that of an old rose. The plant can grow to 5 feet.
This new dahlia has gorgeous, bright yellow blooms that pop against its rich, dark purple (nearly black) foliage. 'Mystic Illusion' is well branched and makes a strong statement in beds, borders, and containers.
Datura metel grows 3 to 4 feet tall with large dark green leaves that have a bad smell. However, the large trumpet-shaped flowers have a sweet fragrance that spreads throughout the garden in the morning and evening. Flowers may be single or double and range from white and yellow to pink and purple.
Covering itself with glowing fuchsia daisy-like flowers with many narrow petals, 'John Proffit' makes a beautiful groundcover or container plant. The succulent foliage looks like it has small pieces of ice on it (hence the name "ice plant') and is evergreen in warmer climates. Growing to only a few inches tall, it can spread almost 2 feet wide. It blooms from late spring to early fall.
A tuft of thin grassy foliage with gray and gold variegation distinguishes this cultivar. Early summer brings 3-foot-tall, airy plumes of tiny flowers that look beautiful when backlit by the sun. As fall approaches, the foliage turns golden with pink-coral tips. This grass even grows well in shadier sites. Plant in a border, woodland garden, or shaded rock garden.
This hybrid has a compact, mounding habit, with silvery-blue foliage and fluorescent pink toothed flowers, which continue blooming with deadheading.
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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