Winter vanishes when I wander in nurseries. Plant producers have expanded the types and styles of perennials, raised in lath houses so their...
Winter vanishes when I wander in nurseries. Plant producers have expanded the types and styles of perennials, raised in lath houses so their foliage looks fresh, and available now.
For the holidays, I like to gather a few new plants that can serve as indoor décor before moving to the outdoor garden or into containers for the rest of the winter.
Using these in the house is simplicity itself: You’ll need a basket 6 inches deep (just the depth of a one-gallon nursery can); its width depends on how many plants you wish to group. Because the plants have drainage in their containers, holes aren’t necessary in the container you select.
And, if you lack a basket, I’ve used deep kitchen bowls, stock pots and copper pots. Tuck the plants in, moss the edges to disguise the containers and add as many shiny balls or small bouquets of cut flowers as you wish.
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My current favorite for this romp is a familiar Heuchera, ‘Lime Rickey,’ which couldn’t be more chartreuse, a vivid bright green complementing golds, silvers and reds. Plants look fresh and lively indoors and will stay happy there about two weeks before needing a return to cool outside temperatures. Heucheras overflow their pots, making a full display all by themselves.
Small heaths and heathers, many of them blooming in December and January, have tiny needle-like foliage that looks festive. These often come in 4-inch pots, even easier to group for display. One with white flowers, Calluna vulgaris ‘Alicia,’ almost resembles snow on branches.
For outdoor pots by the front door, I’m using a combination of forced pots of paperwhite narcissus (they last beautifully outdoors and can be whisked inside in case of freezing) and herbaceous perennial euphorbias.
Right now they’re full of bushy, attractive evergreen growth; they’ll bloom (generally in yellow) in early spring. (I use them outdoors in case any visitors are sensitive to the sap in the euphorbia branches.)
The newer euphorbias stay relatively short — 18 to 20 inches at full growth. This factor alone makes them good patio plants. You’ll find them with tones of green and red, such as Euphorbia x martinii ‘Rudolph.’ It lives up to its name with soft burgundy leaves (or bracts) shining against green. No red nose, but gentle color that contributes welcome subtlety.
Another holiday color wave that’s showing up in magazines is silver and teal. Look for Euphorbia ‘Shorty’ to shine in teal, a clear unmixed blue. ‘Shorty’ stays at about 15 inches, and will pop open yellow flowers in February or March; but now, it calls for silver balls and white lights, and lots of teal ribbon.
If you group them in a welcoming display at the front door, euphorbias will stay happily in their pots right into spring, and will bloom on cue. They keep great company with pots of spring bulbs outdoors when the time comes.
Why not consider nursery gift certificates for holiday giving, and pick up a few of these for yourself?
Garden expert Mary Robson, retired area horticulture agent for Washington State University/King County Cooperative Extension, appears regularly in digs and in Practical Gardener in Northwest Life on Wednesdays. Her e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.