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The old-fashioned shamrock houseplant is now high fashion. Several introductions from Proven Winners push this group to the fore for its elegant foliage; abundant, delicate flowers; and vigor. Only 6 to 10 inches high with a spread to 12 inches, this plant’s tiny, ¾-inch-wide, bronze-colored leaf clusters and bright yellow flowers are massed on trailing stems that spill over the sides of shaded window boxes and containers.
Sow fresh seed or divide rhizomes.
Fungal leaf spots, powdery mildew, rust, and seed smut are the most common problems, but also watch for spider mites and leaf miners.
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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.
Black mondo grass has straplike, shiny black foliage and grows in little tufts. The grasslike foliage looks good with chartreuse foliage, variegated woodland plants, and with its own flowers, which bloom in midsummer. Young leaves start out with a greenish hue that soon turns to black. The flowers are bell shaped and can be pink, pale violet, or white, and are followed by fleshy black seeds that may remain on the plant all winter. This perennial is evergreen in mild winters or in the warmer portions of its range. It looks stunning in a shady container planting. -Lou Anella, Regional Picks: Southern Plains, Fine Gardening issue #127
This species is similar to E. myrsinites, but its habit is first erect before spreading, and its steely blue leaves are more narrow and pointed. It also bears terminal yellow bracts from early spring to summer.
This native of the American Southwest and Mexico forms an evergreen shrub or shrubby perennial with dark, glossy leaves that are small (but slightly larger than most microphyllas) and softly toothed. It blooms off and on all summer, and again, more vigorously, in late summer and autumn, in blossoms of cherry-red. Its attractive foliage cloaks the plant to the ground, so it is well suited to the front of the border. It can grow to 4 feet tall and twice as wide.
This exemplary species has felted, gray, crinkled leaves. Over a long period, it exhibits sprays of butterfly-shaped, rich wine-red flowers, which contrast dramatically with the foliage. Its small stature makes it a perfect candidate for a container or a walkway edge. It has been used medicinally for the treatment of various infections, including bronchitis. It is a native of Africa.
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