During these cold winter days we gardeners dream about what we will plant next spring. I am thinking about what I will do with my patio pots and how I will choose foliage plants as foils to contrast with the plants that flower. Actually it is the way foliage plants are used that often differentiates a veteran container gardener from a novice.
One of my favorite container plants is the fuzzy grey leaved Helichrysum petiolare. It is originally from South Africa and commonly known as licorice plant. The plant gets its name from the licorice scent it exudes from its leaves during hot summer days. The licorice plant:
- is a sprawling sub shrub
- has two cultivars that are ideal for pots: ‘Limelight’ with chartreuse leaves and ‘Variegatum’ which has creamy variegations
- combines well with any color of flowers
- is hardy only in zones 9 and 10, therefore are annuals in cold climates and do well in shade.
Silvery foliage plants such as the licorice plant are destined to be bridesmaids rather than brides, but as supporting cast members they are invaluable as they soften and enhance the impact of more showy annuals when they billow, weave and trail.
Interested in another option for foliage?
Persian shield adds style to container groupings. Like licorice plant, purple Persian shield looks chic in a pot with lavender, blue and white flowers. However, lots of different color combinations are possible. Hot colors as well as cool colors look great with fillers like these.