Hydrangeas fill the garden with color each summer, with a spectrum of colors. As the season progresses, the blossoms turn shades of cream, pale green, red brown and copper.
Dried arrangements in your home can continue the show, simply by following these simple steps to dry your hydrangea blooms.

When to Cut

Let the flowers dry naturally on the plants. This usually happens from August through October. They will ready when the petals take on a kind of vintage look, or when they mature to the color of parchment paper, often with tints of pink or green. The flowers may also feel papery. Don’t cut hydrangeas when the blooms are at their peak, or during a rainy spell. The stems and leaves will hold too much water, and the flowers won’t dry fast enough to stay pretty. Don’t wait too long either, when flowers are completely brown. Snip the flowers on a cool morning and cut the stems at an angle, ranging from 12 to 18 inches. Strip off the leaves, and put the stems in a jar of water that covers the stems about halfway.

Drying

The different lengths of stems will help keep them at different heights, so they get good air circulation. Put the jar in a cool spot out of direct or bright light, and check periodically. The blooms should be ready in about two weeks, but if they’re not, add a little more water and give them more time. You can display them while you’re doing this.

If you’d rather, hang the stems upside down to dry, individually or in small bunches. Keep them in a cool, dry spot out of direct sun. Check them periodically for dryness.

Another way to dry the blooms is with glycerin, which you can purchase from most drugstores. Again, cut the stems at an angle and strip off the leaves. Then crush the ends of the stems with a hammer. Mix two parts water to one part glycerin in a jar and add the flowers. As the stems take up the mixture, the glycerin turns the petals golden brown. They’re ready when the water evaporates. If you like, you can add a drop of dye to the jar for a hint of color.

Finally, you can dry hydrangeas in silica or white sand. Simply put the flowers in a plastic container and completely cover them with the silica or sand. Remove them after two to four days and gently shake them clean. Use your dried hydrangea flowers in vases, wreaths, bouquets and craft projects. As long as they’re kept out of direct light and humidity, they should last indefinitely.

When it comes to growing and maintaining a healthy garden, soil tests are often overlooked. These tests measure soil health and fertility, are generally inexpensive, and well worth the effort when it comes to creating a productive garden space. What does a soil test show? How often should you do it?

What Does Testing Soil Show?

A soil test can determine the health of your soil. By measuring both the pH level and nutrient deficiencies, a soil test can provide the information necessary for keeping the most optimal fertility each year. Most plants, including grasses, flowers, and vegetables, grow well in slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. Azaleas, gardenias and blueberries prefer a bit higher acidity in order to reach their growth potential. Having a soil test can make it easier to determine the current acidity, allowing you to pinpoint the deficiencies and correct them.

How Often Should I Test?

Soil samples can be done any time of the year, fall being preferable. They are normally taken each year or simply as needed. While many companies or gardening centers offer soil testing kits, you can usually obtain a soil test for free or low cost through your local county extension office. Try not to have the soil tested whenever the soil is wet or when it’s been recently fertilized.

What Do I Need for the Sample?

To take a sample for testing garden soil, use a trowel to take small slices of soil from various areas of the garden. Allow it to air dry at room temperature and then place it into a clean plastic container or seal-able plastic baggie. Label the soil area and date for testing. Now that you know the importance of getting a soil test, you can better manage your garden plants by making the appropriate adjustments from your soil test results.

Plants for the Garden

Now that your soil is tested, its time to look for new additions for your garden. Browse our hydrangeas, which has blooms that can change colors depending on your soil pH level. Or check out our more tolerant butterfly bushes to add winged friends to your garden. Azaleas are another shrub for acidic soil levels. Or our camellias for lovely late fall and winter blooms.

A plant feeds and consumes energy from the sun through a system called Photosynthesis. Plants take in the sun’s energy and converts its energy to keep itself alive. That is why plants grow towards the light. Now that you know that, we all see light requirements for various plants saying full sun, part sun, full shade, part shade; what’s the definition of all those and the difference? It is simple to know all the light needs for plants.

Part Sun vs. Part Shade

When I first saw these and was confused, I asked myself – are they the same? Does half the plant need to be in sun and the other half in shade? Partial sun or partial shade labels both mean a plant needs three to six hours of sun each day, but they carry a different emphasis. Partial shade plants need protection all day except those three to six hours per day. Partial shade plants often do best when they receive direct morning sun, but stay sheltered in the afternoon. The morning sun is less harsh in the morning compared to the afternoon sun, pretty much why we need good sun block in the afternoon sun because we all will get burned more easily with the intense afternoon sun. Partial sun plants, greater emphasis is placed on it receiving at least the minimum three hours. When you see “part sun” used, the grower is stressing that the plant requires at least three hours of sun and will likely do better with closer to six hours. When you see “part shade” used, the grower is stressing that the plant should not receive more than six hours of sun and will likely do better with less.

Full Sun

Full sun plants thrive when they receive unobstructed, direct sun all day. The more natural sun they receive, the better they do. As a minimum, plants in this category need at least six hours of direct, full sun each day to function effectively. If they don’t receive enough sun, they often lose their normal color and fail to bloom or bear fruit. Full sun is probably the trickiest level of exposure because while many plants need full sun to set buds and flower, some cannot handle the intense heat and/or dry conditions that often come with that much sunshine. One way around this is to plant the more sensitive plants where they will get more morning sun, than afternoon. It’s cooler in the morning and as long as the plants get at least 6 hours of direct sunlight, they should grow well.

Full Shade

Full shade plants perform best when they receive less than three hours of daily sun. Even a spot of all day sporadic filtered sunlight will work, meaning plants set under large trees with broken sunlight reaching the ground. If in an area of that three hours of direct sunlight, morning sun that is less intense than afternoon is best.

There are other obvious factors that affect how plants react to sun. Knowing where you live is helpful as well. Latitude, elevation, time of year and time of day all matter. The farther south you go in North America, the more intense the sun becomes. The closer you are to the sun, the more potent its rays. In midsummer, noontime sun burns hotter than in midwinter. Morning and late-afternoon rays are gentle compared with early afternoon. Plants that tolerate full summer sun in northern climates may need afternoon protection in southern and western regions. These technical details aren’t as important as the general understanding of full sun, part sun, full shade and part shade mentioned above. You are now ready to choose what plant is right for that area in your landscape that receives full sun, some sun, or no sun!

Too much water in parts of many landscapes is a problem for some home owners. Keep in mind, there is a difference in areas that are slow draining with soil that stays wet for periods of time, and flooded, soggy areas in landscapes. The problem can be one that occurs all year long, seasonal, may be drainage overflow, or flow to a low point in the yard. Whatever the reason, there is a way of turning a moist, slow draining area to your advantage. Some plants and shrubs thrive in wet areas, and with the right ones you can still achieve an interesting and attractive landscape.

Problems vary with damp areas in your landscape. It is often hard to get plants and shrubs to grow in these areas unless the right ones are chosen. Mosquitoes and other annoying insects are encouraged by soggy areas in your landscape so pests can be a problem for your plant. Moist areas can often emit an unpleasant smell, as well as visually make an area look quite ugly. Choosing the right damp soil tolerant plant is a great step in correcting these problems. Its good to note there is a difference in certain damp soil tolerant shrubs doing well in slow draining areas, and these tolerant shrubs not doing well in areas with constant standing water.

There are a number of damp soil tolerant shrubs to choose from – what it boils down to is personal preference. Hydrangeas come in a magnitude of colors and sizes and need more water to remain healthy. A friend of mine planted hydrangeas near their down spout and the plant took off and flourished. Because your front yard is a public space, use hydrangeas to frame and present your home; its entrance and other important features such as windows and porches, all which could be near gutter drains that sometimes overflow. Hydrangeas love moisture, in fact, its name comes from the Latin term hydra, which means water.

Another good choice are azaleas. They can handle moderate moist soil that drains within a couple hours. Azaleas has a shallow root system so regular watering is a necessity so the roots do not get dried out. Moisture evaporates easily in the upper 3 to 4 inches of soil, especially in dry climates. They grow well when given 1 inch of water once a week. Azaleas are a flowering shrub in the genus Rhododendron. Rhododendrons generally have much larger leaves and their flowers are bell shaped and have ten or more stamens, while azalea blooms are typically funnel shaped and have five stamens. Azaleas are more accommodating for landscapes and are more versatile for home owners. Azaleas are a one stop shop when it comes to beauty between the gorgeous, glossy hunter green foliage and the choices among many different colors to fit any setting in landscapes. Plant a low-growing border to soften the appearance of irregular or uneven ground. Areas where slight regular run off occurs in your landscape during showers and creates irregular or uneven ground is a poplar choice for azaleas.

No matter the area in your landscape with excess water in one form or another, it is best to know your yard in terms of why, when, and how much those areas get more water than other parts. Some areas could require a bit of landscape engineering which could be as simple as building up a low point so water does not pool for long periods of time or building up certain areas to direct water flow. No matter the water loving parts of landscapes, there is a moist soil tolerant plant out there for you.

Flowering shrubs and plants are an essential point in landscapes, adding color, structure, texture, and focal points. Whether you’ve planted shrubs and plants, have had them planted, or inherited them from previous owners, it is important to keep up with their care so they live the longest, most beautiful, and productive lives. Care can be easy, but does require knowing the basics so your plants and shrubs can reach their full potential. Whether you are adding a new plant to your landscape or caring for existing flowering plants, this article will touch on both.

Knowing your location is a key factor when choosing a plant for your landscape to care for. You want what is going to work best in what you’re stuck with! Environmental factors you need to consider are hardiness zone, temperatures exposed to through the seasons, soil status,  sunlight exposure and direction, and drainage to name a few. Get plants and shrubs that are aesthetically pleasing and hardy to your area, avoiding choices based on beauty alone. Planting shrubs in locations with inadequate conditions will greatly reduce their appearance, performance, and longevity; and may even be detrimental for it to thrive and survive. Its strongly recommended to follow your hardiness zone because this provides an indication as to where each shrub is likely to survive the winter months.

The development of the hardiness zone map started in the 1930’s and through a long process and numerous updates; last one being in 2012 the guessing game has been taken out of the equation of what shrub will do best in your zone. A hardiness zone is a geographically defined area in which a specific category of plant life is capable of growing, as defined by climatic conditions, including its ability to withstand the minimum temperatures of the zone.

In most parts of North America, early spring is the best time to plant and/or do the necessities for established shrubs. If planting a new addition, whether you bought online or from a local store, it is best to get it in the ground within 1-3 days. If it is not possible to plant them within this time period, keep them in an area that provides some degree of shelter from the natural elements (sun, wind, rain,) until they can be planted. If shipped to your home, open the boxes immediately and remove them and all packing materials. If the soil is dry water until the root ball is thoroughly moist.  For established plants spring is an excellent time to do any pruning. Deciduous shrubs that have become overgrown can best be dealt with after flowering has occurred. Evergreen shrubs should be worked on in the spring time as well. Try not to go to extremes when pruning because it may not recovery if severely pruned.

Spring is the time for annual mulching for new and/or established shrubs. Mulch is available in a variety of colors and textures, from white rocks or gravel to pine bark, compost, or pine needles. Whatever the material, all mulch serves as a protective layer between the soil and the elements. Mulching not only keeps in moisture, but will keep unwanted weeds to a minimum. Mulch keeps weed seeds out of the soil. Seeds that are carried by wind and animals stay on top of the mulch instead of getting in the soil and allowing them to root. Second, mulch blocks the growth of weeds beneath the mulch mat by blocking sunlight and air circulation. It takes at least 2 inches of mulch to prevent weed growth, as a thinner layer may allow weed seeds to reach the soil.  Some plants, such as acid loving azaleas, prefer pine needles or leaf mold. Mulch helps keep the soil cool during the warm months by preventing evaporation and has the opposite effect in the cold months. It keeps the soil warm by acting as a barrier between the cold air and the soil around the plant. Mulch will protect plants from lawn equipment and trimmers as well as give your landscape a manicured, groomed look.

Most landscapers and home owners apply annual fertilizers in the spring. There are a huge variety of fertilizers from organic to chemical based, but the job is simplified by remembering that the purpose of fertilizers is to ensure optimal nutrition for the plants in the landscape. Twenty nutrients have been identified that are essential for plant growth. Carbon, hydrogen and oxygen are supplied by air and water. The other 17 are found in the soil and are absorbed by the plant’s root system. Six of these nutrients, called macro-nutrients, are the most important to plant health. Nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, sulfur, potassium and magnesium are all needed in relatively large amounts.

Investing in these low cost necessities and easy care annual maintenance is worthwhile because the payoff is year round beauty and eye appeal for you, neighbors, and all traffic by your home. Your landscape requires care to ensure its continued health and success. Caring for plants is easy when space is considered for it to grow so little pruning is needed, light requirements are factored in, fertilize annually, and mulch annually. Do it right, keep it simple, and it can be easy.

Consider spring blooming plants such as azaleas, peonies, spirea, and loropetalums to add a pop of color in your landscape by shopping our online selection.

 

Butterflies, bees, and birds that fill our green spaces with life seem to be dwindling with time as loss of habitat is responsible in so many areas. Why not add to your landscape to help out our fellow winged friends and at the same time add astonishing eye appeal? Winged wildlife look for what many of us look for on an overnight stay; good food and drink, a bath, and a cozy place to bed down for the night. Provide these and your overnight friends perhaps may stick around for awhile. Butterflies, bees, and flower-feeding birds all need nectar and pollen to sustain energy and nourish offspring.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

To attract the greatest diversity of winged wonders include flowering plants of multiple colors, shapes, and sizes. Hummingbirds are attracted to the red spectrum colored flowers over any other color, so among azaleas, hummingbirds are most likely to seek out red varieties. Autumn Bravo, King’s Red, Autumn Fire, and Midnight Flare are a few that hummingbirds will cater to. They won’t shy away from other brightly colored varieties like butterfly bushes that they can share with butterflies and bees. Hummingbirds and birds search food off sight alone so they will visit all vivid colored flowering plants in your landscape.

The most important thing bees do for flowering plants is pollinate. Pollination is needed for plants to reproduce so bees and other small insects are depended on by plants. Bees are looking for basically two things when visiting a flowering plant; nectar and pollen. Nectar is their main source of energy and pollen provides the balanced diet of proteins and fats. If you view bees as a pest think of it like this: one out of three bites of your food depends on a pollinator.  That’s because about 150 crops grown in the U.S. depend on pollinators, not only to feed people, but livestock as well. Bees cater to yellow, whites, blues, and purples, so the spectrum of flowering plants can be easily found that fit your landscape that range from any butterfly bush two winners by Proven Winners®; Double Play® Blue Kazoo® Spirea and Blue Muffin® Viburnum. Pinks, oranges, and reds will attract bees also, so feel free to include Painted Lady Spirea or Korean Fire Cherry Red Camellia.

Photo courtesy of eHow

Last, but no less important; butterflies. Known as beauty with a purpose, butterflies are one of our very favorite insects. They don’t sting, they don’t bite, they don’t become pest in homes, they fly with grace, with beauty, and seldom are thought of in the sense of bugs that need exterminating. Attracting butterflies incorporates having a flowering plant that fills the needs for them in all stages. A place to lay eggs, food for larvae, a place to form chrysalises, and a nectar source for adults. Butterflies are attracted to red, yellow, orange, pink, and purple blooms that are flat-topped, clustered, or have short flower tubes. The obvious choice for butterflies are butterfly bushes of any kind; Miss Molly Butterfly Bush, Kaleidoscope Butterfly Bush, Miss Violet Butterfly Bush, Lo and Behold® Pink Micro Chip Butterfly Bush, Blue Chip Butterfly Bush, or Purple Haze Butterfly Bush.

The list is limitless for your choice of flowering plants to provide winged companions with that bed and breakfast type atmosphere. Choose a variety of vivid color, stagger bloom times, and group similar varieties together to best offer an inviting environment for butterflies, bees, and birds to view along with a beautiful flowering plant.

Flowering ground cover serves two instrumental purposes that make it a number one choice for landscapers and home owners – astounding beauty and functionality. Not only will it provide visual appeal, but flowering ground cover will help with weed control, erosion control, and what to do with those hard to grow spaces in landscapes or tie together those certain landscape designs you’ve invented with that certain elegant flow. When ground cover is considered, often the vision of a bland field of green spread throughout the landscape comes to mind. Flowering wide-spreading shrubs however can be incorporated and offer the visual pop that you’re looking for.

Many flowering plants are overlooked when thinking of the need for ground cover. Drift Roses are an excellent choice because they have long spreading branches that spill and spread across the ground, have little scent, produce an abundance of flowers, and being repeat bloomers, have lots of color to offer throughout its blooming seasons. There’s a grand assortment of color schemes with Drift Roses; from Sweet Drift® Rose, Apricot Drift® Rose, Popcorn Drift® Rose, Coral Drift® Rose, Peach Drift® Rose, Pink Drift® Rose, and the Red Drift® Rose. Add any these for magnificent, vibrant color appeal, easy, low maintenance, and disease resistance, low compact growth flowering ground cover anywhere in your landscape. Mix and match for a kaleidoscope of color to make neighbors and passers by talk about your home being the best on the block.

The days of grand yards are few and far between. It’s more common to put total lot size into added square footage within the home and shrink the yard down; allowing bigger homes, bigger neighborhoods, and smaller yards. An easy canvas for well maintained landscapes, beds, hedges, borders, gardens, walkways, and don’t forget; ground cover to tie it all together!

Another perfect choice for flowering ground cover are butterfly bushes. There’s a huge range of brilliant colors and varieties when it comes to these flowering plants. The Lo and Behold® series offer a Pink Micro Chip, Blue Chip, and Purple Haze Butterfly bush, all by Proven Winners. These three are more low growing or choose to go with the bit larger Miss Molly , Miss Violet, or one with a rainbow of colors from purple, pink, and orange displayed by the Kaleidoscope Butterfly Bush.

No matter the purpose for  ground cover, choosing the right flowering ground cover will always bring your landscape beauty and functionality. When you’re looking more for those certain areas to fill in, tie together, prevent erosion, add to rock gardens, fill in slopes or steep banks, drown out weeds, or simply add horizontal beauty, flowering ground cover is your answer!

Space used everyday in your landscape and where you can predict daily traffic are ideal locations for plants with fragrance. Let entryways, walkways, decks, and patios not only impress and astound the eye with the right visual appeal and charm, but also impress the sense of smell time and time again. When planning out your aroma-therapeutic landscape consider the strength of plant scents can vary greatly so think about location. For example, subtle, mildly scented plants like the Pink Drift Rose around windows cracked on a beautiful spring day or when there is a nice, late summer breeze stirring, or any areas close to your home. Strongly scented plants like gardenias and lilacs maybe further away in your landscape because they will cover a greater area and not be so overbearing.

Another consideration is mixing more than one fragrant plant in the same area. When planting for fragrance, your Moonlit Lace Viburnum or Blue Muffin Viburnum scent more than likely will be drowned out by the scent of gardenias planted close. Although you get to enjoy the visual delight of each, your viburnum will be cheated out of its sweet, mild smell to the stronger and bolder sweet scented gardenias. Staggering bloom times for fragrant plants is key to consider so you can enjoy and savor individually and fragrance can be enjoyed throughout all seasons; for example a late winter, early spring blooming  Winter’s Interlude Camellia or the late fall blooming Winter’s Fancy Camellia.  Your home and landscape may have a common wind pattern or cross flow so it’s wise to make note of where placing  fragrant plants. If you have a flow of wind from the back of your landscape towards your home, you have an open range of where you can place fragrant plants from any variety of butterfly bushes because the wind will carry the scent for your enjoyment. Do consider areas where wind is to strong because in a lot of cases wind will carry your fragrance right out of your landscape, mild cross breezes and gentle breezes are best. A spot that is shielded from strong winds is better for a fragrant plant than if it was in the direct wind path because the scent will mingle and gently spread depending how strong the fragrance.

Customize and personalize your landscape for fragrance for you to enjoy, you are the one there most and fragrance is sometimes very personal and may even feel therapeutic. Fragrance makes all the difference in seeing a beautiful landscape and experiencing a beautiful landscape.

Photo Courtesy of Minnesota Horticultural Society

As neighborhoods expand, and larger homes are built on smaller lots, privacy is often sacrificed. Perhaps a neighbor cleared some trees on their lot. And on the other side, a new home’s master bath includes a large window with a view into your yard. Outdoor living areas continue to grow in popularity, offering homeowners a sort of vacation spot at home. You may find that not only do you feel like you are living in a fishbowl, but also would rather not see your neighbor in his bathing suit grilling hamburgers or watering his plants. Suddenly solitude is a thing of the past.

Of course, there are multiple ways to add privacy within your yard or garden. Fences, stone walls and garden structures are a good investment. Unfortunately homeowners associations can sometimes have restrictions on height and style of fences and other privacy methods. By putting in perimeter privacy plants, these hardscaped areas are softened by shrubs and trees and feel less restrictive.

Plantings along a property line can provide year-round screening. Where space is tight, evergreens like Italian cypress, arborvitae or a sheared privet hedge grow quickly and provide a simple solution for separating adjoining yards or blocking less attractive views. Other larger shrubs such as camellia, though slower growing, generally work well in areas where width is not a problem and offer flowers when other plants are dormant.  Planting some deciduous shade trees, depending on the species, can grow tall enough to block the view from a neighbor’s second story window. Positioned over a deck or patio, the canopy provides privacy and shade in the summer. In the winter, the trees’ bare branches allow the sun to shine into the house. Be sure to plant with plenty of room for the plant and not grow into the neighbors yard. In larger yards, planting a variety of trees – evergreen and deciduous, shrubs, and perennials create layered privacy screen and work well when planted in odd number groups. Texture and color can also be a consideration to add interest. Even large potted plants can create a green screen around a deck or patio seating area.

Tall plants such as lilacs and forsythias offer color and screening when planted in mass. The Fastigiata Plum Yew can grow up to 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide. Charity Mahonia and Marmorata Variegated Aucuba are good alternatives for shade screens. All are great additions when mixed with other hardscaping such as fences and walls. Screens can also be created with vines trained onto a tall trellis. Using that concept as a guide, your yard screen can be only limited by your imagination. Check out our Pinterest page on Privacy Plantings for ideas!

 

Thinking of starting a new garden, or adding a few plants along your house to add to your curb appeal? Flowering shrubs are great, especially the ones with long flowering seasons. But flowers come and go, and foliage can remain vibrant for many seasons of interest.

Photo credit: images. search.yahoo

Naturally most people think GREEN when referring to plant leaves. But you aren’t as limited as you may think. Shrubs and plants offer a variety of colors, such as gold to silver, red, bright yellow, purple and almost black. And there are also those that offer the best of several colors – the variegated varieties. Stripes, spots and beyond, the leaves of many plants can create that bit of life you are looking for in your landscape. Leaf texture can also be a major factor, ranging in sizes as well as soft and round or straight and spiky.

Annuals can offer a lot in the way of color, but can sometimes become costly in large amounts. Perennials are a better option for longer term color, but I have found that shrubs, mixed in the correct combinations with other shrubs or plants, can hold a lot of attention. Variegated foliage in particular is very practical and dependable but the factor still remains of how to use them well to maximize the use of color in your yard or garden.

Variegated plants with vivid pattern are great in borders and landscapes. In shady sites, plants such as Marmorata Variegated Aucuba, Hosoba Hoshifu Aucuba and other patterned foliage plants are great for brightening things up. Wherever you may have a large area of solid green, variegated shrubs are an easy way to add more visual interest as replacement plants. Most variegated plants add the most impact where you see them up close – such as along a walkway, foundation or at the front of a bed. Perfect for pots and planters as well, to enjoy the foliage up in frequented areas.  Starkly variegated shrubs work well at the back of a large border, but too far away—approximately 15 feet or more—makes even the most marked white-variegated plants to look as if they have a blurry, slightly gray appearance, while those with gold pattern have an overall yellow-green look. Also even if the variegated foliage looks amazing on its own, not all types of pattern combine well. Keep attention to variegation patterns when placing more than one type of variegated plant in close proximity to another.

You can also showcase variegated foliage by planting shrubs with solid-colored foliage as contrast. With the large selection of foliage plants available, its possible draw from a large variety of color palettes in the landscape. Group low-growing plants such as Crimson Fire Loropetalum with its darker foliage in front of variegated shrubs to highlight color and pattern contrast.

Too many variegated plants may be too much of a good thing. One way to help variegated leaves pop is to place them against contrasting elements. These can include a dark background, such as a fence, wall, or hedge. It can also include plant partners that have deep green, purple, or near-black foliage, providing a dramatic contrast to white or yellow leaf markings.

Color matching comes easily to some gardeners, not so much for others. Harmonious combinations can be made up with flowers and foliage in a similar color range as the markings. For example, white-and-green leaves with white flowers look cool and elegant in shady sites and bold and dramatic in the sun. Cream-colored markings pair perfectly with soft yellow, peach, and pink blooms or blue flowers and foliage. Yellow-marked leaves look wonderful with yellow, blue, purple, or orange flowers and with all-yellow foliage, too.

Keep in mind leaf shape and texture to pair shrubs well. An example of this might be to combine a spiky, low-growing, narrow-leaved shrubs or grasses, such as a variegated yucca with a hosta that has broad leaves. The variegation provides some cohesiveness, while the different leaf shapes and sizes add a welcome contrast. When using several different variegated plants in a border or container, be sure to include plenty of solid green specimens to offset the dramatic patterns.

Variegated plants you can find in our online store, such as the oval foliage Drops of Gold Holly paired with the fine gold foliage of King’s Gold Cypress. Or the dark burgundy foliage of the Ruby Snow™ Loropetalum with the mat of small green leaves and red stems of the Little Dipper® Cotoneaster growing around it. Kaleidscope Abelias are quite popular in zones 6 to 9 and offer many seasons of variegated elegance paired with a Double Play™ Gold Spirea or a Red Knock Out® Rose. And of course great plants to offer solid green foliage to ground the pattern may be a camellia, azalea or Fastigiata Plum Yew.

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