By LMG Calla Victoria
Pink blooming Gaura lindheimeri and Agave Americana
In our zeal to purchase plant material, it is a good idea to research the natural growth habits of plants to make sure that you are positioning them correctly in your garden. Know the spread and growth habits before making purchases, even go online and research images of the plants you are considering in landscapes. Take for example one of my favorites, Gaura lindheimeri (also called the butterfly plant). It is a wonderful wildflower, easy care perennial, and is spectacular in the landscape. Its tall delicate branches trail over creating a waterfall effect. The problem is the branches can bend way down and touch the ground; and then there is the careless yard guy with a weed whacker, oh my! I planted a white gaura in one of my raised flower beds in front of my home and the gaura was still touching the ground. This plant needs to be in a tall container or planted behind other plant material that can prop the gaura up. I solved the problem with some pink gaura that I planted behind my huge century plant (Agave Americana). As the gaura’s delicate branches drape through my agaves, they soften the look of the large sculptural plants, while at the same time the agaves prop up the gaura so that it is not sweeping the ground. Also, I did learn that the pink gaura are much hardier than the white ones. My white gaura, which is a much larger and older plant, dies back each winter while the pink ones just sail on through.
Now let us discuss a plant’s spread. The general rule, when buying plants, is to buy at least three of the same plant to make a statement. Now that is a good rule for most plants, however some plants spread so quickly and widely that one plant is more than enough. For example, cat whiskers (Orthosiphon aristatus), an enchanting perennial but it gets huge very fast, so one is more than enough to make a statement. It is a distant relative to mint, so it can take over very quickly. I purchased one of these amazing plants a couple of years ago, and by the second spring I had to dig up and move this plant because it had gotten so large. The same is true for the sweet potato groundcover, in the attached image only two small sweet potato plants covered all of the area.
This article apppears in the June 20, 2015 edition of Data News Weekly.
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