The great thing about foliage is that besides offering dynamic color, most choices are low-maintenance. Only twice during the summer did the coleus have to be cut. Here's how to do it. Using sharp pruners, snip branches directly above a set of leaves. Remove elephant's ear leaves when the edges turn brown or stems become weak. Slice them off at the base of the stems, and new ones will soon emerge. Sweet potato vine's rapid growth requires occasional trimming as well, so eliminate the excess foliage above a leaf to keep the plant looking vigorous.
Newly installed borders require consistent water until roots settle in and plants begin to grow. As summer progresses, the coleus planted in the bed will need less attention. Pots, on the other hand, dry out more quickly, and the moisture-loving elephant's ears, bananas, and sweet potato vines will appreciate a thorough dousing daily or every other day as the summer progresses.
Feed foliage once a month with an all-purpose, water-soluble fertilizer such as 20-20-20. Always moisten the soil with plain water prior to feeding to prevent the plant food from burning the roots.
If you want instant color and a lush garden without a lot of work, try the wonderful world of foliage. Success is so simple.
An easy way to plan a border is to think of it in three layers. Consider these ideas.
- Choose tall selections for the back of the bed to establish the top level. Potted plants add height and focal points, becoming another option to establish the top layer of the border.
- Next, fill in the middle range with shorter selections.
- Lastly, add creepers and tumbling plants on the bottom to soften edges and complete the stair-step arrangement.
Repeating shades throughout a bed gives a unified, pleasing appearance. Here's how we did it in Robbie's border.
Chartreuse or Green
- 'Aurea' creeping Jenny (lime green leaves)
- 'Gay's Delight' coleus (chartreuse leaves with dark purple veins)
- 'Marguerite' sweet potato vine (golden-green foliage)
- 'Rustic Orange' coleus (coppery leaves with chartreuse edges)
Burgundy or Black
- 'Black Magic' elephant's ear (black leaves with purplish red stems)
- 'Crimson Velvet' coleus (burgundy-red foliage)
- 'Illustris' elephant's ear (black leaves with veins of green)
- 'Sumatrana' red-streaked banana (maroon leaves with green stripes)