Regional Picks: Plant This With That – Southeast

Fine Gardening - Issue 152



‘Antonow’s Blue’ honey bush

 Name: Melianthus major ‘Antonow’s Blue’

USDA Hardiness Zones: 7 to 11

Size: Up to 8 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; well-drained soil

I have a soft spot in my heart for blue foliage and for deeply textured foliage. This South African native delivers both. Its serrated, powder blue foliage grows well into winter, with new growth opening like an accordion and smelling like peanut butter. Although ‘Antonow’s Blue’ honey bush pushes spikes of burgundy flowers in late spring, the foliage—generally evergreen to 20°F—is the star. In cool portions of the Southeast, apply a 3-inch-deep layer of mulch in fall. To keep this plant looking its best, you may want to prune it back to the ground in early spring, but this will inhibit flowering.



Blue oat grass

Name: Helictotrichon sempervirens and cvs.

Zones: 4 to 9

Size: Up to 2 feet tall and wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; well-drained soil

This beautiful and well-behaved evergreen grass is the perfect foil for the honey bush in this design. It pulls the color off the honey bush and carries it to ground level, then embellishes it with a clumping spiky form all its own. While not fussy, blue oat grass needs well-drained soil and a minimum of half a day of sun to live up to its potential.

‘Wine and Roses’ weigela

Name: Weigela florida ‘Wine and Roses’

Zones: 5 to 8

Size: 4 to 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; well-drained soil

Although this shrub is common throughout the Southeast, it earns its place in this designer combo. Dark, glossy burgundy leaves and bright tubular flowers that appear from spring into fall make ‘Wine and Roses’ weigela the perfect complement to honey bush and blue oat grass when placed in between the two. It attracts hummingbirds and is deer resistant.

‘Midnight Rose’ heuchera

Name: Heuchera ‘Midnight Rose’

Zones: 4 to 9

Size: 10 inches tall and 16 inches wide

Conditions: Partial shade; moist, well-drained soil

‘Midnight Rose’ heu­chera has burgundy leaves splashed with hot pink, making it a perfect match for our combo. The foliage repeats the colors of the weigela. In warm areas of the Southeast, give it some afternoon shade to prevent scorching.

Jay Sifford is a garden designer in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Photos: Jennifer Benner; courtesy of Jay Sifford; and Doreen Wynja. Illustration: Elara Tanguy, colorized by Bill Godfrey
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