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For The Garden

Funky Foliage Plants

Author: Cathy Cromell
Issue: March, 2013, Page 148
VARIEGATED GERANIUM
(Pelargonium x hortorum)



VARIEGATED GERANIUM
(Pelargonium x hortorum)


Type: Perennial grown as an annual

Elevation: Low, mid and high desert

Blooms: Red, pink, coral, white; throughout growing season

Size: 1-3'H by 1-3'W   

Soil: Organically rich with excellent drainage

Light: Full to partial sun

Water needs: Moderate

Maintenance: Remove spent flowers to encourage blooming. Fertilize regularly.

Note: Move pots indoors before extreme summer heat hits (low desert) or before frost (all elevations). At the same time, take stem cuttings to propagate new plants.

Why we like it: It features attractive leaves ringed with varied bands of colors, including green, yellow, maroon, bronze and white.



ECHEVERIA ‘Blue Curls’
ECHEVERIA
‘Blue Curls’


Type: Succulent

Elevation: Low, mid and high desert

Blooms: Reddish-pink; summer

Size: 6-10"H by 6-10"W

Soil: Coarse, with excellent drainage

Light: Morning sun, or dappled light beneath tree canopies

Water needs: Low to moderate

Maintenance: At mid and high elevations, grow in pots and move indoors for winter.

Note: In the low desert, it can remain in the ground year-round, but it doesn’t like full sunlight, high humidity or wet, cold soil; grows best in spring and fall.

Why we like it: Bluish-green foliage with rose- or burgundy-tinged frilly edges resemble sea coral. Leaves form a symmetrical rosette shape.



NEW ZEALAND FLAX
(Phormium sp.)
NEW ZEALAND FLAX
(Phormium sp.)


Type: Perennial

Elevation: Low and mid desert

Blooms: Red or orange; late spring/early summer

Size: 3-6'H by 3-6'W

Soil: Any, except heavy clay

Light: Full sun; afternoon shade in summer

Water needs: Low, once established

Maintenance: Some leaves of hybrid varieties in variegated colors may revert to basic green or bronze. Cut such leaves off at the base, along with dead blooms or foliage.

Note: Most varieties are hardy to 15-20 degrees F. For small spaces, seek dwarf varieties.

Why we like it: Dramatic, spiky and colorful foliage provides tidy interest in gardens, pool-scapes and containers. Leaf spears add elegant height in cut arrangements.



COLEUS
(Solenostemon scutellarioides)
COLEUS
(Solenostemon scutellarioides)


Type: Perennial grown as an annual   

Elevation: Low, mid and high desert   

Blooms: Blue (insignificant); summer

Size: 1-2'H by 1-2'W

Soil: Organically rich with excellent drainage

Light: Filtered or bright indirect light reduces sunburn and color fade.

Water needs: Moderate to regular

Maintenance: To promote foliage bushiness, regularly pinch back leaves and remove flower spikes as they appear. Fertilize regularly. Move indoors when frost is predicted.

Note: Cultivars are available that tolerate sun or shade.

Why we like it: Plants come in a kaleidoscope of color combos; leaves are smooth, ruffled, frilly or deeply lobed.


Other Favorites:
Cordyline, dracaena or grass palm (Cordyline australis and C. hybrids); Echeveria ‘Blue Waves’; Echeveria ‘Dick’s Pink’; Echeveria ‘Mauna Loa’; peppermint-scented geranium (Pelargonium tomentosum)
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