The Q&A Archives: year round color

Question: I was wondering if there is a small plant I can pot and place on my open deck for year round appreciation. My favorite colors are blue and purple, then white and yellow. I live in GA, 30 miles north of Atlanta.
Thank you

Answer: Most perennial plants bloom for only 2-3 months so if you want interest all year around, you'll want to plant several different plants so that when one stops blooming, the next one will flower. An exception might be to plant something that will look interesting even when it is not in bloom. Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker) is one such plant. It has a bloom span of 3+ Months. The spiky, bottle-brush flowers of Kniphofia are beacons for hummingbirds. Although they look like tough customers, Kniphofia actually requires a bit of winter protection in cooler zones. They are also a bit fussy about liking moist conditions in the summer, but well-drained soil for the winter months. Full sun is generally necessary for ample blooms. Another possibility is Liatris (Gayfeather, Blazing Star) with a bloom span of 3 Months.
Liatris are easy to grow and texturally unusual. The thin, spiky leaves jut off the stems all the way to where the rosy-purple flower spikes begin. Unlike most spiky flowers, Liatris blooms from the top down. Liatris can handle just about any type of soil, but the richer the soil, the more likely they'll need staking. They'll grow in full sun or partial shade. Liatris is long lived and doesn't often require division. They will self-seed, but generally don't take over. Liatris spicata (Spike Gayfeather) comes in white, pink and shades of purple. A final suggestion is
Scabiosa (Pin Cushion Flower) with a bloom span of 3+ Months. Scabiosa is a unique looking plants with a low growing rosette of narrow leaves and a profusion of gangly stems topped by pincushion flowers. They are relatively easily grown in average soil and full sun. Deadheading is a must for long bloom and general appearance. Divide plants every 3-4 years. You can also root the secondary stems you will see coming from the base of the plants. Choose Scabiosa caucasica 'Butterfly Blue', or S. c. 'Pink Mist'. Best wishes with your new plant.

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