Friday, July 7, 2017

Funky and Fun Foliage

Fall foliage (in early July) is only a distant promise on the horizon… but summer foliage is dazzling as it adorns container gardens in our landscape!  Foliage plants, when used in containers, might be considered “filler.”  But some foliage leaves are so intricately shaped and brightly colored, they can become the focal point of a container garden.  An assortment of delicate foliage plants might stand alone in a container without the inclusion of flowering plants.

One of my horticulture teachers taught us to view a container garden as a landscape design in miniature.  Similar design techniques are utilized when creating a container garden or a backyard garden.    A plant with height… a plant that spills over… dainty floral or foliage plants as filler… a focal point… dramatic colors… subdued colors…  all play nicely together in a rustic or classic container.

Who can resist the funky and fun foliage produced by sweet potato vines?  Coloration is varied for Ipomoea batatas: some lime green, some deep purple, some with nearly black foliage.  A favorite of mine is ‘Sweet Georgia® Light Green’ which offers a bold pop of color, and it also spills over the edge.   Sweet potato vines pair nicely with plants in Coleus genus; this genus covers a huge variety of intricately shaped leaves in dramatic colors.  Although Coleus plants will produce a tiny flower cluster at the tip of each branch of leaves, the flower is considered insignificant and is often pinched off.  With Coleus, it’s all about the leaves!

Funky and fun foliage also makes an appearance in the genus Pelargonium (commonly known as an annual geranium.)  A favorite of mine is shown here with lime green leaves, accented with brownish-red center on each leaf.   Although the blooms are cherry red, I enjoy this plant mainly for its foliage.  This year I’m also growing a Pelargonium with a tri-color (cream-purple-green) leaf; even without flowers, it makes a statement.  

When you’re considering a selection of plants to containerize, include some funky foliage and YOU will make a statement!

M. Lynn Schmid,  Certified Master Gardener
A.A.S. Landscape/Horticulture/Arboriculture