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This spreading shrub from tropical and subtropical regions can reach 6 feet tall. It is grown as a houseplant or as an annual outdoors where it's not hardy. Its oval leaves are splashed with red, green, and yellow and its long, fuzzy flowers are borne periodically throughout the year, although they are somewhat hidden. Acalypha wilkesiana 'Tricolor' can be grown in a warm greenhouse, in a border, or as a specimen or hedging plant (especially in warm areas).
This broadly columnar to spreading tree has peeling brown bark, three-palmate mid-green leaves, and brilliant orange-red fall foliage. It grows up to 30 feet tall and 25 feet wide.
This plant has lobed, densely hairy, chartreuse foliage that is crimped at the edges. Soft, frothy, yellow-green foliage hovers above the plant from early summer through autumn.
Angelica is a striking ornamental biennial or short-lived perennial with jade green, glossy, bold leaves and large umbels of white flowers. It makes a unique statement in the garden.
A spreading subshrub, Cornus canadensis has whorls of leathery mid-green leaves that turn purple in the winter. Green and white, sometimes pink-flushed flowers emerge in late spring and early summer, followed by clusters of scarlet berries.
A native of Korea and Japan, Kousa dogwood makes an excellent landscape tree and offers a long season of interest. Beginning in early summer, white bracts in sets of four (sometimes with pink tinges) surround tiny green flowers. These are followed by reddish fruit that resembles raspberries and attracts birds. Autumn color is a deep reddish purple. This species is resistant to dogwood anthracnose and has good cold hardiness. Grow as a specimen plant or in a woodland setting. It can be grown as a tree or large, multi-stemmed shrub.
This bushy shrub or small tree has generated many notable cultivars, all of which add great textural qualities to the landscape. It has 6-inch-long frothy plumes that appear after the flowers and give a long-lasting, smoky haze to branch tips. Its green leaves are smooth and rounded and produce brilliant fall color.
This species boasts maroon-speckled stems and green flowers with maroon margins. The flowers occur on thick, solitary stalks bearing bottle-brush-like wands of tightly-clung florets, which are crowned by tufts of green bracts. As the common name implies, these unusual and magnificent inflorescences are reminiscent of pineapples.
This species boasts stems and undersides of leaves with maroon spotting, and white flowers tinged with maroon. The flowers form on 24-inch-long, thick stalks bearing bottle-brush-like wands of tightly-clung florets, which are crowned by tufts of green bracts. As the common name implies, these unusual and magnificent inflorescences are reminiscent of pineapples.
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.
Wood spurge is a soft, hairy, evergreen perennial with red-tinged stems and matte dark green leaves with red tones underneath. In mid-spring to early summer, it produces 8-inch-tall, greenish-yellow bracts.
This variety has dark, glossy evergreen leaves arranged in tight rosettes, and it produces yellow-green bracts in mid-spring and early summer.
This unusual looking plant has many succulent, pencil-like branches. The leaves are small and short-lived, and the flowers are insignificant. Euphorbia tirucalli can grow to almost 30 feet in the wild, but it can be used as a smaller specimen or container plant in the garden. It is hardy only in Zone 11.
Regarded by some as the bluest blue fescue, this plant forms compact, cascading mounds of foot-tall, intensely blue, narrow leaves that are attractive in all seasons. Blooms are generally secondary to the foliage, but this cultivar blooms more heavily than most, with spikelets in summer. This cultivar is long-lived and very hardy. Grow in groups in a border or rock garden, or as a groundcover.
These compact tufts of 8-inch-long powder-blue leaves are well suited for edging and naturalizing in the rock garden.
'Jan's Twister' has large, light coral, spiderlike flowers and no fragrance.
This tender paperwhite is well-suited to forcing, blooming 6 to 10 weeks after planting. It produces 10 to 20 bright-yellow flowers with orange centers on stems 12 to 14 inches tall, and exudes a marvelously sweet fragrance.
Broad, deep-green leaves nearly a foot long and panicles of flowers the color of a Granny Smith apple make this Nicotiana a great companion for many other garden plants. It looks especially handsome with dark-foliaged trees or shrubs like purple smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’) or ‘Diabolo’ ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’). It is also good with grasses. N. langsdorffii comes into its own as a moderator wherever colors clash. That chameleon-like quality makes this nicotiana’s propensity to self-sow most welcome; no matter where its progeny appear, they look great.
This evergreen, rhizomatous, perennial grass has an upright habit, with bamboo-like foliage to 14 inches tall. Flat, linear leaves are sometimes striped yellow. Pale green spikelets turn buff with age.
This species creates tropical drama with its large, toothed leaves and ivory-green, footlong flowers. It exhibits reddish-bronze color in autumn.
Q&A Ground covers to avoid
by Nancy Ondra
Planting Ground Covers
Proper spacing and regular care are the best ways to create a lush, weed-free carpet
by Mary Hirshfeld
Flowering Ground Covers
To blanket an area small or large, these are the perennials to pick
by Nancy Ondra
Dividing a ground cover
by Liana Mackey
Plants for Pathways
These durable creeping perennials discourage weeds and soften the look of a walkway
by Marty Wingate
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