The Q&A Archives: Companion plants

Question: Hello!

I have a rectangular wooden planter on my patio, and would like to know what plants to pair with English boxwoods that are in there now. I was thinking of the Karalee Gaura in between the shrubs. Any other ideas especially for winter interest? The patio has full sun in the AM and early PM.

Thank you so much for your assistance.

Answer: Some of my favorite fall flowers include:
Asters, with their clouds of daisy-like flowers in pink, rosy-lilac or deep purple asters are classic fall flowers. Robust and hardy, many garden hybrids stem from the native New England and New York asters. Old favorite taller varieties growing 3 to 4 feet tall include the glowing salmon-pink 'Alma Potschke' and the lavender-blue Aster frikartii 'M?nch'. The more recently introduced 'Purple Dome' grows a compact 18 inches tall.

Heleniums: For show-stopping daisy-like flowers in hot colors, try hybrids of the North American native, Helen's Flower (Helenium autumnale).

Its other common name Sneezeweed, is misleading - Helenium won't cause sneezing as its pollen isn't wind-borne, but carried by insects.

'Bruno', a Bressingham selection from England boasts crimson-mahogany flowers; 'Red and Gold' produces brick red and gold yellow flowers; 'Butterpat' has deep yellow flowers and 'Moerheim Beauty' bright, reddish-orange blooms.

Turtlehead (Chelone oblique): Is another interesting and unusual fall flower. A North American relative of snapdragon, it's named for the long-blooming pink or white flowers that resemble small turtles with half-opened mouths.

For interest extending into the winter months, add some ornamental grasses. While the blades and flower spikes will die down when the weather gets cold, the dried tufts look amazing when touched by Jack Frost or even covered with a light dusting of snow.

Best wishes with your garden!

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