Sunday, May 31, 2020

Burgundy Foliage Part 2

Ahoy all. I hope you are still well amidst the pandemic going on.    Here in the Los Angeles area we had protests and over the hill there were riots, looting and violence.  We are fine.  But the world is kinda messy right now.  Stay safe and well.  

I love burgundy foliage plants so much, here is part two.  It's the contrast of all the green plants next to purple foliage that compliments everybody.  And the more colorful the leaves, the more they POP! 

Let's begin with Alternanthera dentata Purple Knight.  It is a mounding plant that may or may not survive frost.  I've had mine for maybe 5 years but it's close to the house for a little protection.  Alternanthera are native to Central and South America.  So, they really only like zones 9-11.   Most of SoCal(except the beaches) is zone 9.  I remember lots of them in Hawaii.  So, we are lucky to be able to grow them here.  Those little creamy dried flowers come in the Fall and stay until you cut them off.  The plant can take some sun and some shade.  It wants to grow kinda gangly to about 3 feet.  But I like it better when it stays bushy.  One has to pinch it a couple times a year to make it this way.  And I cut off any branches that cross into neighbor plants because it can be vigorous and want to cover up another.  I even had had some seedlings come up nearby.  But it's the dark purple leaves that I adore! 
Alternanthera next to Hypoestes.  
Here is another Alternanthera, with the variety being Brazilian Red Hot.  I LOVE this one so much that I look for it every year! It's quite more frost tender that Purple Knight and I've lost many.  When I find some in nurseries, I'll buy several. The one pictured here is 2 years old.  I only have the one now because I haven't found more yet. It is said to grow 2' tall.  But then there I am again with the pinching. So mine is only about 8" tall.  It's SO PRETTY! 

Alternanthera Brazillian Red Hot

Here is the only succulent in the group that I have. It's Aeonium arboreum atropurpureum.  Say "A-oh-NEE-um".  This plant is native to the Canary Islands and grows like a weed. I bought one plant and split it into 3 and planted them separately in my garden.  They grow so wide that I keep having to rip some out.  The one in the pic keeps growing into my path.   It's easy and loves my sandy soil.  It will grow 3-5'! Mine stay about 2' tall and get about 4' wide. They sometimes get clusters of yellow flowers in summer and grow best when part shaded.  

Aenoium arboreum atropurourea

 There are SO Many Begonias, I couldn't tell you the name of this one. I won it at a Southern California Horticultural Society meeting about 2 years ago and it had no tag.  But I love the foliage.  It occasionally makes pink and white flowers. But who cares! Those leaves are fabulous!  Sometimes fancy Begonias are fussy. This one is not! It grew so well, that I recently had to repot it into a bigger container.  I keep it right by our front door with eastern exposure so it gets a little morning sun only.  

Sometimes the new leaves looks SO DARK! 

Here is that one flower it had recently.  

 I know that I've posted about this plant before but I had to include it.  Iresine herbstii or Bloodleaf Plant is another gorgeous foliage plant. No one I know calls it by that common  name. It grows to about 4 feet if not pruned and is native the the American Tropics.  It keeps that great color in part shade.  If grown in more sun the color tends to bleach away leaving a rusty look.  I grow mine in eastern or northern exposure.  It is also another great plant for pinching to keep it bushy.  

Here is an herbaceous perennial,  Aster laterflorus 'Prince'.  It grows in the warm weather and is cut down to almost nothing in winter.  And OhMyGosh, they changed the name to Symphyotrichum lateriflorum.    Whatever! It's still an Aster to me.  It grows to about 24" tall and wide.  I've divided my plant a couple times in the maybe 4 years that I've grown it.  Of course I bought it for that black foliage!  But soon it will be covered in pink with red centered little daisies.  So cute! 

Aster laterflorus Prince next to an Iris & an Echinacea
the first of it's flowers coming

I needed something to fill a spot from where I had moved another plant and wanted something that gets about 4' tall. I was at Green Thumb Growing Grounds in Canoga Park this week and spotted a big block of orange foliage. I'd seen it in previous years but resisted in the past.  It's Berberis thunbergii Orange Rocket or one of the many Japanese Barberries.   It has thorns and goes mostly deciduous here in winter.  It looks to have an upright nature rather than a rounded shrubby nature which is perfect for my spot in the garden.  I planted it in the ground yesterday.  I love the orangey leaves. Look how it stands out next to green! It's not burgundy but I am still including it here.  

Berberis Orange Rocket 
Berberis Orange Rocket up close 

 The last for today is Snowbush or Breynia nivosa. It is native to the Western Pacific Islands. You'll often see them for sale as houseplants.  But here in SoCal they grow great outside.  I had mine in a pot for years.  Then I saw some at Legoland in Carlsbad, CA going beautifully in the ground. Granted they are coastal.  But I planted mine on the east side of the house and it's grown great!  It takes a bit of a break in winter.  It doesn't lose all it's leaves. It just loses some and looks not it's best.  It does flower but I've never seen them in person. Photos online show insignificant blooms along the stems. My plant is 4' tall and wide and I love it! There is another Breynia that has more white in its leaves and no pink.  But it doesn't impress me like the pink and burgundy of this one.    

Breynia leaves

Breynia leaves up close.

That's it for burgundy foliage today.  I'll have a part 3 coming soon of smaller sized plants with burgundy foliage.  

Stay well and Happy Gardening! 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Burgundy Foliage Part 1

Ahoy all.  I hope you're still staying safe after 2 months of coronavirus lockdown.  I'm still working in clients gardens and my own garden is still keeping me sane(ish). I'm glad Rick and I are in this together. 

I had to wait to do this post until one of my plants was completely leafed out. I adore foliage that is NOT GREEN.  Green is all well and good and means that the plant is happy and growing.   But green is everywhere!  I LOVE when a plant stands out and compliments it's neighbor. And burgundy foliage is awesome! I have a LOT of burgundy leaved plants.  So, I decided to make this post in several parts.  

First up is Euphorbia cotinifolia.  This plant is native to Mexico and South America which means it is a little frost tender. Mine goes only mostly deciduous depending on the winter weather. "Cotinifolia" means leaves like a Cotinus(which you shall see soon).  It is a big shrub or small tree and makes little creamy white flowers that are hardly noticeable.  It is mostly grown for it's gorgeous burgundy red foliage.  Euphorbias have white milky sap inside that can be an eye or skin irritant.  I once pruned the big one and got some sap in my eye.  Oh, it burned for hours and stayed red for a whole day.  But I recovered.  Now I prune them while wearing goggles.    The first 2 pics are of my first plant.  I almost lost it in the big freeze about 15 years ago.  The 3rd pic is of the 2 babies I made from cuttings from the first plant.  They all lived in pots until we bought this house almost 10 years ago.  Now I cut them back to roof level about once per year.  You can see that the 2 need trimming. 

My biggest Euphorbia plant

I love how the plant glows when the sun shines through. 

The 2 "babies" on the east side of the house. 

Cotinus coggyria or Smoke Tree is another big shrub or small tree. It is native to Asia and Europe.  For most of my nursery working life(25 years ago) I thought that we couldn't grow this plant here.  Then I began to see it in a few nurseries. But it was so expensive! I was lucky to find this one in a 2 gal pot for about $25   I can think of one mature plant in Glendale that I used to see driving around. And I have only two clients who grow it.  It is called "Smoke" tree because it makes these little wispy pink flowers above the foliage in Spring.  Mine was too quick to bloom to catch in photos.  Sorry about that.  I've seen it about 20' tall.  I don't think I'll let mine grow that large.  Now it is about 5' tall and wide. And I recently trimmed off several stupid branches.  "stupid" meaning that they were sticking out in weird ays that I didn't like.  

Cotinus leaves up close. 

Seen here with one of the Euphorbia. See how they're similar. 

Next up is Agonus flexuosa 'Burgundy' or Peppermint Tree.   It is a small tree that is native to Australia(as all the cool plants are) and will get to about 25' tall.  When the leaves are crushed they smell like peppermint!  Burgundy leaves AND peppermint fragrance- YES PLEASE!  I love BOTH those things! And the leaves are almost black! How cool is that?  I bought this tree in a 5 gallon can before we moved.  So, it has been in the ground for maybe 8 years and has been slow growing.  It is only about 7' tall.  

Agonus leaves up close. 

I know I already posted about the Black Diamond Crape Myrtles but I had to include them with this.   See that post from 2018 here Black Diamond Crape Myrtle  This plant just leafed out a couple weeks ago and is already thinking about blooming.   The contrast between them and all the other green plants is striking. I adore them in the garden.  And all mine in the front yard have cherry red flowers.  I have a lavender one and a white one in our backyard.  

Black Diamond Crape Myrtle seen from the south east side. 

The last for today is Canna Lily "Tropicanna".  They're native to South and Central Americas and Mexico. It grows from a rhizome(people just call it a "bulb") under the ground and usually dies back to almost nothing in winter.  Mine often have a few sprouts showing then.    Cannas bloom in warm weather.   Each stem only blooms once and should be cut to the ground after flowering.  Sometimes they spread too far and come up amidst a neighbor plant.  I just yank them out then.  It's pretty easy. Tropicanna has stripes to go along with its burgundy foliage and orange flowers that come atop 4-6' stalks.  What a great combo! 

There is a bud getting ready to bloom on one stalk center left. But see how it's coming up in a little rose bush. 

 I hope you enjoyed part one of burgundy foliage from my garden. Stay tuned for more and stay safe.  

Happy Gardening!