Garden Clippings for April 6, 2019

Out with the flowers, in with the foliage.  On my mind in the last week or two is what to plant up in our containers.  We have more than 20 pots around the house: two biggees in the front yard, a dozen or so on the deck and backyard patio, and the remainder at the tabernacle (aka the garden shed.)

Cheryl and I love our containers.  Every May two-four weekend we carefully choose an assortment of flowers and plants, consisting of thrillers, spillers and fillers.  The thrillers are most fun to choose, because they are the anchors or focal points in containers.  The fillers and spillers serve to enhance or compliment the thrillers.

My favorite thriller are Banana plants.  These larger-than-life accent plants are not for the faint of heart.  The plant starts out about a foot or two high and as soon as they are potted up, they explode to nearly my height.  Huge leaves are bold and shiny, and almost burgundy in colour.

Banana plants drink up a lot of water.  We plant the Bananas in large decorative earthenware pots that are nearly 3 feet in diameter.  The pots are large enough to handle a 2-gallon pail of water which will keep the bananas happy for two days.  Sometimes three.  Banana plants do not flower.

New for us this year will be Cordyline fruticose, sometimes called Ti plant or Cabbage tree.  Cordyline’s claim to fame is its bright hot pink to red foliage that is sure to command attention.  Where the weather is warm and tropical, Cordyline might reach 8 feet of height, but in Ontario where it can remain outdoors in summer only, the plant won’t grow much higher than 3 or 4 feet.

Plant Cordyline in a good-sized container filled with peat-based soil.  Keep the soil consistently damp.  Before freeze-up bring the Cordyline indoors to enjoy as a houseplant where it will benefit from extra humidity.  Plant it outdoors again in May.  Technically, Cordyline plants bloom, but practically, their beauty comes from the bright foliage.

Garden Croton is a tropical shrub that doubles up as an attractive houseplant.  Foliage is wildly colourful, with leaf veins contrasting with leaf flesh.  Dominant colours are yellow, orange and red.  During our summers, Crotons will grow to more than 3 feet.  Prune the plant back periodically in order to keep it bushy rather than leggy.  Outdoors, Crotons enjoy sun to partial shade, but once you’ve brought it indoors, give it wants as much light as possible.  Crotons don’t really flower but are known for their outstanding foliage.

Dracaena plants are one of the most popular houseplants and are available in endless varieties.  All Dracaenas have long narrow leaves.  Ours is a Dracaena marginata Tricolor with slender green leaves with red margins and a light stripe in the leaf centre.  The colour blend gives off a pink hue.

Corn plant (Dracaena fragrans) has broader leaves with bold bright yellow foliage.  All varieties of Dracaena are easy to grow outdoors and are equally happy growing indoors through winter.  Dracaenas do not normally produce flowers but rely on foliage to perform in a container.