Thursday, May 7, 2015

My flashy annual of the year…

There’s a history behind this latest obsession. It seems each growing season I fall under the spell of a different "annual" (whether or not it's a true annual, it's one in my climate), something new to my garden and something a little…flashy. There was the year of the Caladium, the year of the hyper-colored Coleus, and yes, even a year where I was a little obsessed with the hot pink and black Fuchsia. I know, crazy. This year's fixation? Tradescantia pallida 'Purple Heart'...

Or as the labels are calling it Setcreasea purpurea 'Purple Heart'

 I could blame the owner of this garden, after all it's the first time I noticed it used well.

My plant lust partner Patricia has a couple plants that came back from last winter, which wasn't bad as winters go, but does alert me to the idea this might be an annual with a bit of staying power.

I started with a pair, scored at Portland Nursery. This one is helping to make wiry foliage visible.

And this one is just providing a little color in the gravel mulch, it needs a Melianthus major 'Purple Haze' to keep it company.

Funny thing, the very hour I'd planted that first pair I came in for lunch and saw this photo, tagging me, posted to Facebook by Ms Vicki Blachman, Oh how I wish I could replicate that Dyckia/'purple heart' combo in my garden. Perfection!

After I realized two plants weren't going to be enough I went back to where I'd bought them, only to discover there were no more. Thankfully I found a new shipment at Dennis' 7 Dees on Powell.

I bought three more...

And one of these...

And I momentarily paused in front of this, remembering having fallen in love with them at the 7 Dees garden at the Yard Garden & Patio Show. They're selling them at the nursery, $139 and it's yours!

So what's your flashy annual of the year? Or are you above such fleeting passions?

All material © 2009-2015 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

38 comments:

  1. I haven't picked a favorite annual of the year this year, but I am growing Love Lies Bleeding from seed this year, and so far they are looking pretty good. I had no luck last year with Amaranthus seeds, but this year they're doing better. Maybe because I used a different seed vendor? I'm planning to grow them in front of purple castor bean.

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    1. Amaranthus! Why do I never think to grow these? I love the green ones. Thanks for the reminder

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  2. I haven't picked one, although, being as cheap as I am, I tend to stray from annuals. Maybe my lewisia woes count as annuals?? lol. I do enjoy getting introduced to new plants from your blog posts! The color on this one is really striking.

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    1. No! I hope your Lewisia woes are over and it's nothing but happy times from now on.

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  3. I have off and on grown that trad so many times! There's a specimen struggling at this moment in the understory of the big yucca. It grows well in Austin so it should like LA but I never get that well-grown clump. Hope you do!

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    1. Thanks for the wishes, of course it would be just my luck that it takes hold and then I decided I don't like it....

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  4. I go with more annuals each year than I expect to, but this "purple heart" is a great one -- I inherited a basket full of the stuff last year. It overwintered in my garage, and I have a dozen cuttings rooted too -- it's so easy to root in a glass of water.

    Plectranthus 'Cerveza n Lime' is an annual I can't do without. (I have 20+ this year because of cuttings...)

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    1. You are quite the propagator Alan!

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  5. AnonymousMay 07, 2015

    Purple heart (or Purple Queen, as I've grown up knowing it as) is very easy to propagate! I've had to thin some of mine and dropped the cuttings on the ground next to the gate to my compost bin and they rooted & took off. You can also (purposely) root them in water or soil.
    jan in Florida

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    1. Thanks for the tip, I will be taking a few cuttings then as soon as they bulk up and plant them around the garden!

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  6. This is perennial in DC, at least through our warmer winters. Full sun for best color!

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  7. Great annual! Last year I grew this with an orange abutilon that had matching purple sepals. Worked really well. Coleus is my all time favorite flashy annual and I usually get several plants each year, grow them in pots and throw them in any blank spots that may show up.

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    1. Nice combo! For some reason I've cooled to coleus...

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  8. I haven't picked one, though with the deck planters designated for annuals this year instead of strawberries, I probably will. My only "annual" so far is a 'Fragrant Delight' heliotrope, but I love heliotrope every year. I've had purple heart overwinter, though it emerged very late in my garden. If I had planted it on the south wall instead of the west wall (which stays pretty cool in spring) it might have been more successful. I think the PKWs did it in. I have a friend in Castle Rock who has it growing in a bed near her pool. The raised bed and brick surroundings means it heats up faster in spring. Not sure if she still has it though...

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    1. I had to look up heliotrope, I'm not familiar with that plant.

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  9. As with Patricia's experience there's a strong chance it will keep coming back for you especially with your warmer summers :) it is a gorgeous scrambling beauty, used to come back for us too...that's is before winter 2010. Keep an eye out for 'Kartuz Giant', imagine that with 2-3x bigger leaves :)

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    1. Ah, you know I love me some big leaves...thank for the tip!

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  10. I always fall for a few of the new coleus and a few of the annuals that you can usually only get by growing from seed, like that green, oddball Nicotiana (hope it does well this year).

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    1. Oh that green Nicotiana is a looker, I wish much success on you.

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  11. I had a purple heart in a pot that underplanted an arbequina that came back for 3 years (!) in a row, but was finally killed in that super cold snap a couple winters ago. I hope you get them as return guests at least for a bit. This year for me is the year of the sunflower -- I've got seedlings of multiple varieties/colors/sizes in a tray at the moment -- and I aspire to create outrageous bouquets of them in late summer. Fingers crossed! And I always get heliotrope b/c that scent just knocks me out.

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    1. There is nothing more fun than a big bunch of sunflowers, I hope your growing the "teddy bear" variety.

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  12. As everybody has said, it is so easy to propagate!! and it grows fast!! I took a little stem from the street when I was in Lima, Peru, put it on a glas of water and planted it when it rooted. It grew so fast and was so little water demanding that in a month or less I already had a nice clump. I also had one in Madrid in my room. I used to forget watering it all the time, but it never died. I was pretty impressed.
    I also thought it looked beautiful at Kuzma´s garden. And remember seeing it at Floramagoria, next to a beautiful brugmansia.

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    1. Oh, I'll have to look back at my Floramogoria photos, thanks!

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  13. Purple Heart makes an easy houseplant and pretty much grows by sticking a section in dirt. It doesn't have to be a one (year) and done.

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    1. Yay, who knew (not me) but now that exactly what I'll be doing!

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  14. I've grown other forms of Tradescantia but not this one. I love the color and the plant is perennial here but those I've seen locally get ratty-looking in winter. It may be best to restart them every year, even here. Other than sweet peas, I don't grow many annuals, with the exception of the self-seeding ones like Cerinthe major. I did try planting California poppies and Calendula from seed this fall but my friends, the raccoons, made short work of the seedlings. I do hope to get sunflower seeds planted before it's too late though.

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    1. An Cerinthe major is a good one, those blooms as such an amazing color!

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  15. Oh, I like that one! The purple foliage really pops next to the various shades of green. I haven't purchased all my annuals yet, but one nifty combo I'm trying is a chartreuse coleus with double-pink impatiens, a purple-shamrock oxalis, and variegated alternanthera. I bought small plants, but when they fill in the pots should look nifty. I'm not surprised that 'Purple Heart' is easy to propagate. My mom has Tradescantia spathacea (Moses plant), and it's easy to propagate, too.

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    1. Sounds like you've got quite the way with container combos.

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  16. What a pretty purple heart.

    I don't really have a favorite yet this year. I did pick up some "Sparkler" petunias on sale at the nursery this week. The purple flower is star-shaped and I had never seen them before, hope I can keep the slugs and snails from destroying them.

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    1. Slugs and snails are tenacious aren't they?

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    2. You know Loree, I've lived in PDX most of my life and never saw a snail here until about 4 or 5 years ago when boom, they were everywhere. Clearly an invasive species but I'm wondering, from where? They are also MUCH more eclectic in their eating habits than I've ever seen slugs be. Is this your experience?

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    3. Actually Paul I've only seen one snail in my garden and it was up so high on very weak foliage that I couldn't begin to imagine how it got there. I have, however, seen dozens at a time in a friend's gardens, it's startling. I hope I'm not ever able to report firsthand on their eating experience.

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  17. OMG, Purple Heart is ubiquituous in Austin! If I'd known you wanted some, I would have shipped you a box for free. It's a plant that, when I was starting my garden, a gardener frend looked at me in horror and said, "Don't spend money on that! You can have as much of mine as you want!" followed by big grocery bags full of cuttings. Like people have said above, it's super-easy to propagate. It's also incredibly cold hardy in my garden, which has gotten down to 15F before. It's one of my favorite foliage plants to use, because there are so few purple foliage plants that do well in Austin with little care (Purple Heart, loropetalum, and a few borderline hardy dykias, and that seems to be about it!). It's kind of funny to me to see it being talked about like a novelty, but I appreciate someone else enjoying it as much as I do!

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    1. Thanks for the offer! I will be very interested to see how this one performs in my garden, with so many people talking about it's relative hardiness.

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  18. If you ever visit my garden, Danger, I'll give you all the cuttings of purple heart you could ever want. It's utterly unkillable here, and as such makes a good groundcover for difficult areas. But give it good conditions and it'll take over.

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  19. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for one of these on my nursery trek this weekend. I'm a sucker for purple.

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