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Flower Combinations Determine Satisfaction
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
A trip to a favorite garden center can be similar to walking into an ice cream shop. The push of spring blooms, coupled with warmer weather may have you chomping at the bit to get out planting. But before you buy some of everything, stop and do a little thinking or planning.
Think about plant combinations and what you are going to put in each place. This past year I have had the opportunity to see some unique combinations using some plants you would not consider putting together.
Consider using impatiens and caladiums together this year. While there are some caladiums that take full sun, for the most part their preferred climate and cultural requirements are the same as impatiens.
One knockout combination is to alternate red impatiens with White Queen caladiums that are white with green margins and red veins. This is great in those shady areas that need a little glimpse of white.
Another striking combination is the Gingerland caladium that has pinkish-purple spots with impatiens of the same color of pink.
Impatiens, also work well with coleus plants. Some coleus take full sun, but other coleus, such as Lemon Twist with its lime-green color, works well when planted behind its complimentary shade of purple impatiens.
Ornamental sweet potatoes have been planted successfully the past couple of years, but few have gotten innovative with companion plants.
Blackie is most popular and produce leaves that start out green and then turn a dark burgundy that is almost black. Blackie is vigorous, so a little pruning to keep it in check will allow you to create some gorgeous beds.
Try using Blackie with pink salvia. My choice would be to use the pink form of salvia coccinea, but the annual salvia splendens works well, too. Blackie works effectively with New Gold lantana or one of the perennial pink verbenas, such as Temari or Port Gibson.
One of the prettiest combination plantings I saw last season was using the lime-green ornamental sweet potato called Marguerite, or sulfur, with Solar Sunrise coleus. There are probably a dozen sun-coleus that would work in this situation.
If you would like an easy, showy ground cover for the growing season, try the Tri-colored sweet potato with Purple Heart. The Tri-colored sweet potato has green, white and hot pink leaf colors, and really combines well with the tough-as-nails Purple Heart that is a deep purple.
Purple Heart, formerly known as setcreasea, is dynamite with pink shades of gomphrena or New Gold lantana. Either one of these combinations will give you a great look all season long.
One plant that started to show up around here in recent years is the Licorice plant. It has velvety gray-green leaves on long arching stems, which makes it unbeatable in large, mixed flower containers. Try it in combination with pink, purple and blue flowers that is sure to give a cool, soothing feeling to the hot summertime porch or patio.
Think about combinations in this year's bed, and you will more than likely have a satisfaction kin to an artist looking at the finished painting.