Monday, July 2, 2012

North American Natives for a Patio Container

Last year I had spotty results using the combination of Mealy-cup Sage (Salvia farinacea), Phlox drummondii, and Bidens ferulifolia to do a Native-species planting box scheme using primary colors.  The sage performed well, but the Phlox didn't transplant well and the Bidens bloomed in cycles, so I rarely had all three color blooming at once.  This year I stuck with the Salvia (cultivar 'Victoria Blue') as my tall plant and used a Lantana cultivar 'Bandana-Rose Improved' as the 'spiller' and Zinnias from the 'Profusion' series as 'fillers.'

This Lantana starts out yellow and ages to a pinkish-red.
The Zinnias had not bloomed yet.

In this flower box I also got a surprize.  A Drummond Phlox reseeded itself and has grown much better than the ones I grew indoors last year.  This past winter was mild enough to allow the seeds of this Texas species to overwinter in the flower box.  I also got a bunch of Salvia reseeding themselves as well.  This was great, I got bonus plants for free!

Native species that I have found to work well in a sunny flower box are native to Mexico and the Southwest US.  The hot and often dry conditions encountered in these containers is not unlike their native environment.  At first, I hesitated to use the Zinnias.  They have been highly bred and manipulated, but then I remembered the these plants actually have their origins in the North America, Mexico to be more specific.  The ones you see in the garden centers have been horticulturally improved for features like color, long bloom and resistance to powdery mildew, to name a few.

The 'Profusion Series' are hybrids of Zinnia elegans (the common tall Zinnia) and Z. angustifolia (Narrow-leaf Zinnia).  They tend to be about a foot tall with 1.5 inch flowers in a wide variety of colors that are supposed to bloom all summer.  I am using the cherry- and the white-flowered cultivars.  So far the cherry-form matured more quickly and is a little larger than the white-flowered form.

In checking out the progress of this Zinnia the first thing I noticed was the intricacy of the flower bud.  Maybe all Zinnia buds look like this, but this is the first time I noticed.  So now I'll watch and see if these Zinnias keeps pace with their neighbors.

I was happy to see that this cultivar still has fertile flowers
 - a bonus for the pollinators.
In another sunny area a random selection of blooms caught my eye.  Here the magenta-colored Wine-cups (Callirhoe involucrata) have encroached on a new planting of 'Apricot Sparkles' Day lily (yes, not everything I have is native).  To these, some self-seeded Wild petunias (Ruellia humilis) have also popped up.  I don't think I would have planned on this color combination, but the three taken together work for me.

I don't think the Daylily and the pale lavender Petunia would work
together if it weren't for the intense color of the  Wine-cups.

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