Turn a few heads with these underused plants

By Steve Smith

Every year I try to move my customers a little farther out of their comfort zones to experiment with some plants that perhaps they are unfamiliar with or are afraid they will fail to make grow. Mostly, I am talking about the focal or “thriller” components of a container planting. Traditionally, gardeners have gravitated to the green “Spikes” or Dracena – which work well, are fairly inexpensive, and can often last more than one

season. But if you try something different you will get up to six months entertainment and have your neighbors looking over the fence. Here are a few ideas:

•Egyptian Papyrus — The exotic plant has triangular green stems that can grow up to 7 feet tall and are punctuated at the top with a tuft of filaments that remind me of an exploding firework. We start these early in our greenhouses so you will have a nice specimen by mid-May, which can then double in size by the end of the season. Papyrus is a water plant that can be put into a shallow pond for summer, but will also grow fine in moist and rich potting soil. •Red Bananas — These bold and dramatic plants require a good-sized pot. I always snag two 5 gallon ones, but you can also start with a less-expensive 1-gallon size. Both will quadruple their size by the end of summer. I just love it when the sun shines through their translucent leaves, exposing their

venation. The dark red leaves offer ample opportunity to make some awesome color combinations around the edges of the container.

•Colocasia/Alocasia — These are known as taro or elephant ears and come in green or dark maroon foliage with violet or even red stems. Big, bold foliage is their hallmark. With ample food and water their leaves can reach up to 3 feet across.

•Kangaroo Paws — The foliage looks like an iris but the flowers are up to 4 feet above the foliage; they come in yellow to orange to red, are fuzzy like a kangaroo paw and last all summer. These are perfect for a sunny and drought-tolerant planting, so try combining them with some trailing verbena or

gazanias, or do the minimalist thing and surround them with black Mondo grass.

This summer, have fun with these plants. They will give you months of enjoyment and despite some of their higher costs, when you amortize it out over the season, it is only pennies a day. That’s cheaper than a latte.

Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached at info@sunnysidenursery.net

More in Business

New luxury pre-owned car dealership opens in Marysville

MARYSVILLE – North Marysville’s auto row just added a touch of luxury… Continue reading

Before and after photographs of the fire and nature’s recovery at Steve Smith’s house. (Courtesy Photos)
Nature’s healing powers: You can’t even tell there was a fire anymore

By Steve Smith As the season winds down and the garden is… Continue reading

So many benefits to a ‘real’ Christmas tree

By Steve Smith As gardeners, the concept of “going natural” is nothing… Continue reading

More new goodies to be looking for in 2020

By Steve Smith Back in September, I introduced you to several new… Continue reading

A hardy fall container.
Garden list of things to do this month

By Steve Smith Here’s an all-in-one-place list of chores for the month.… Continue reading

It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature, but do it anyway to have flowers during winter

By Steve Smith As the temperature drops, along with all the leaves… Continue reading

Planting bulbs now can bring you beautiful flowers like tulips and daffodils later on. (Courtesy Photo)
Bulbs: Mother Nature’s little anti-depressants

By Steve Smith The dark season is upon us, and it seems… Continue reading

You can have a fun bud-blooming time this winter

By Steve Smith First off, I suspect you would like an explanation… Continue reading

From left, Fahlman, Nehring, Pierce and Craven
Business Summit talks about future of Cascade Industrial Center

MARYSVILLE – If you want the Cascade Industrial Center to be a… Continue reading

Globe 3rd in state for general excellence

MARYSVILLE – The Marysville Globe placed third in the largest circulation category… Continue reading

A geranium. (Courtesy Photo)
Don’t let begonias be bygones; save them until spring

By Steve Smith With the mercury dipping into the low 30s I… Continue reading

Mums in fall. (Courtesy Photos)
Out with the old, in with the new in colorful October

By Steve Smith Of all the seasons fall is my favorite and… Continue reading