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Colorful Foliage

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April 2, 2019

We all want more color in our landscapes and usually concentrate on flowering annuals and perennials today on Southern Gardening.

When shopping for color often overlooked are plants with colorful foliage.  Let’s take a look at a few of my favorite purple and reds.I have been growing Black Pearl ornamental pepper for several years and it is a favorite.   The foliage starts off chartreuse and quickly transitions to dark purple is a great color contrast. The round marble sized fruit are purplish black and slowly change to a brilliant red.  There are always fruit in various stages of color transition. 

Another of my favorites are the full sun coleus.  Known for their colorful foliage I think one of the best is Big Red Judy which is a real foliage stunner. Growing up to 3 feet tall and wide the brilliant red foliage is vibrant in the full sun.  A big plus when compared to other full sun coleus is that Big Red Judy is slow to flower.  This makes it a great lower maintenance landscape plant. 

But the one plant I’m most excited about is the newly introduced Delta Jazz crape myrtle.  Delta Jazz was developed by personnel at Mississippi State University. The foliage starts as a rich raspberry maroon and matures to a dark mahogany brown.  This dark foliage makes a great background when the medium pink flowers appear in mid to late summer.The unique foliage color also makes Delta Jazz a good candidate to be used as a specimen plant. 

Plants with colorful foliage can be used in lieu of flowering plants.  And why not?  These plants have attractive foliage that is showy without having to rely on any flowers

I am horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening. 

Department: Coastal Research & Extension Center

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