Matching Plants in Plaids and Paisley

Two tropicals and a hardy perennial plant
share a container.
I'm patting myself on the back for a never-seen-before color combination. Okay, that may be a bit of an overstatement. More accurately, the combination hasn't been seen in my garden before. It will grow into a pot of texture, and most of it will be green, except for the Cordyline ‘Miss Andrea’, a fancy little number with bright shiny leaves that, if given the chance, will steal the show.

Currently, the color comes courtesy of Astilbe 'Burgundy Red', with its deep green deeply cut leaves and, for now, deep red flowers. Rounding out the arrangement is a fern whose name, I'm embarrassed to say, I didn't catch. It doesn't look like much right now, but I have high hopes for this trio when it settles in after a few weeks.

I'm not sure I would have found Dracaena 'Lemon Lime' if it weren't for the houseplant frenzy. Dracaena are some of the easiest tropicals to grow indoors. It will be even easier outside.

Cordyline 'Miss Andrea' 
Yes, you can let some of your houseplants take a vacation on your patio, but with a few considerations. Start them off in the shade, even if they prefer sun. Move them gradually to a spot you think they'll be happy in, and then you'll still want to keep an eye out for burned or scorched leaves. Another thing we tend to forget when putting a plant outside for the summer is wind. I've seen the wind desiccate a plant in one day. It just seemed to blow the color right out of the leaves.

To keep the Dracaena company, I added two Fuchsia 'Autumnale', an Impatiens repens, and one Pilea microphylla ‘Variegata’, which I know is pushing the chaotic coloring envelope. Using three multicolored plants in one container is frowned upon in some circles. But it's not as if I'm wearing plaid pants and a paisley shirt with a flowered shawl. Here's my theory: Because three out of four contain red/pink and two out of four contain yellow-green, all five plants will grow up into one happy and colorful family, even without flowers.

Sure, the Fuchsia will bloom, but it needs just the right amount of sun. Actually, all of these plants require part sun, which is kind of a conundrum. I'm counting on the Dracaena 'Lemon Lime' to eventually grow tall enough to offer shelter to the Impatiens, which seems to have the most stringent shade requirements. The Dracaena and the Impatiens are new to me this year, but I've grown the other two.

Mixed with an upright Fuchsia, a Begonia and a ribbon fern is
Pilea microphylla 'Variegata' in the upper left of this photo.
I discovered the Pilea last year at River Street Flowerland. They featured it in several mixed planters, and, at first glance, looks like it has tiny white blooms. I bought a few and mixed it with almost everything. It kept going and going and loved everything I paired it with, including a planter with partial shade-lovers like Fuchsia and Begonia.

Plants in the mixture I am trying this year all are pretty tolerant of low water, which isn't a problem because we just got two inches of rain in as many days. I plan for a wet spring, because we usually have one. But I try to remember what July feels like on a sunny day--hot and dry and humid and sometimes windy--but they'll be strong and bulky enough to take it. (That's the plan, anyway.)

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