May 21, 2017
A spring time trip to your local garden center can easily provide sensory overload. “Wow! Look at this” or “Holy Cow! Look at that!” If you don’t go plant shopping with a plan, it’s easy to buy a lot more than you need. For example, let’s say you need to cover a large patch of ground. It’s hard to beat sweet potato vine for sunny ground cover. It’s a prolific grower, and covers a lot of space. It comes in bright greens, dark reds, and even variegated colors. What if you want a lot of trailing color. In that case, supertunias are fantastic. Only two plants almost covered this entire wall. Supertunias also pour out of baskets, and it even does great as an in-ground plant too. Do you need a tall, specimen plant to fill a lot of space? Think about these Mexican petunias. This perennial grows to about three feet tall, and produces trumpet shaped purple flowers that bloom like crazy during the heat of the summer and into the fall. And finally, what can you plant when you want a lot of low-level color? Purslane is a great choice that really hugs the ground. For something a little taller, Vinca is a tried and true plant that rarely disappoints. Both of these plants produce loads of 1-inch flowers, and once established, both thrive on neglect and last until first frost. The garden center is fun place to go in the spring. But if you don’t want to impulsively buy the whole store, shop with a plan, and only buy the plants that fill your needs. I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman, and I’ll see you next time on Southern Gardening.