In my continuing quest to create container plantings with maximum flower power for minimum effort, I was really pleased with this vibrant purple and green combo I put together last summer. I’m a sucker for the ombré petals and steely centres of African daisies and, with their leaves adding lots of lush green texture, they had to be the thriller in this arrangement. In fact, even though sticking to just two colours can make for a strong plant combo, I think it’s the widely differing textures of each plant that makes this combo so rich. I really like the thickly embossed leaves of the trailing Plectranthus, shiny dark green on top, matte purple underneath, contrasting with the smaller, velvety green leaves of the Verbena. These deep colours won’t fade in the glare of the summer’s sun (all these photos were shot in my front garden at the height of summer, 2015). And with a little pruning later in the season, the flowers and foliage will continue to put on an eye-catching show well into autumn. See the recipe and planting notes below. Let me know what you think of this combo and how you’d tweak it to make it your own.
A: 1 x Tradescantia zebrina
B: 2 x Calibrachoa ‘Aloha Grape Cartwheel’
C: 2 x Verbena hybrid ‘Lanai® Royal Purple with Eye’
D: 1 x Plectranthus ‘Nico’
E: 2 x Osteospermum hybrid (African Daisy)
Some things to keep in mind with this combo:
- African Daisies are muscular plants with sturdy semi-woody stems and lots and lots of long roots. They can be thugs in a container. Although a gardener’s normal inclination is to cram plants into a container for instant lushness, give these darlings plenty of room. They’ll fill out your container soon enough. And for anyone worried about reports of African daisies getting temperamental when the weather gets hot and dry, check out my post on classic container plants and how tough Osteospermums really are.
- Plectranthus can get out of hand. I’ll trim it back if it looks like it’s about to swallow up its nearest fellow inmate. In fact, this plant is so vigorous, I’d take the trimmings, pop them into a glass of water and wait for small roots to form. Then I plant them into other container pots that needed a little filling-in towards the end of the summer.
- Tradescantia doesn’t like to bake in full sun. Mine got the benefit of shade from a neighbouring shrub.You can also try to position it in your container so that the other plants shade it.