Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on February 3, 2003. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Cascading plants offer finishing touch
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
In today's container, basket or window-box plantings, cascading plants have become the ideal finishing touch for the overall design scheme.
In recent years, I have urged gardeners to choose plants that gently cascade over the rim. While that is still important, the new look includes those that reach the container's edge, then plummet toward the ground.
Since we are still weeks away from planting season, we have time to do a little planning and dreaming of beautiful new container and plant combinations. One plant you must look for this spring is Silver Falls dichondra. Many of you have been trying to eradicate dichondra from your lawn, but Silver Falls is different. It's silvery, shiny and sort of fuzzy, which adds to its uniqueness hanging down from a container.
The good news is it will not like our winters, and it will not become a pest. More good news is that it thrives in our torrid summers, allowing you to almost mistreat it and yet still look like a garden pro.
One of the prettiest plantings I have seen it used with is this spring's new All-America Selections winner Blue Wave petunia. In addition to blues, Silver Falls will be striking with burgundy or deep pink flowers.
The various forms of variegated Vinca minor are overlooked for their use in containers and baskets. One of the newest and one of my favorites is Illumination. Wow! Its leaves are a bold, golden lime in the centers with dark green margins. Illumination looks great combined with purple, lilac and lavender flowers. While some vincas are sort of bushy, the habit of Illumination lets it fall freely downward from a container.
Another great cascading plant finding its way to more containers is the Lysimachia nummularia. This plant, often called Creeping Jenny or Pennywort, is exceptional in hanging baskets. One of the prettiest combinations I have seen it used with is Bella abutilon or flowering maple.
To be perfectly honest, the abutilon has never been one of my favorite landscape plants. The hibiscus-like flowers bend downward, leaving me dissatisfied. However, if you put them in hanging baskets, you'll have a winner. The flowers will bend down to look at the viewer. Combine this with a lime-green foliaged lysimachia tumbling downward, and you have an award-winning marriage or partnership.
Don't be afraid to let the falling plants reach 3 to 4 feet to make the container or basket more exciting. Even though you may get the feeling that you are overdoing it with vigorous racehorse-type plants, remember they can be thinned or trimmed at anytime.
Your soil mix is as important as your plant selection. Don't scrimp. Buy the best you can afford. If you have to have a couple of guys tote your bag of soil, then it is too heavy. It needs to be light and airy, yet with good moisture and nutrient holding capacity.
By all means, choose plants with spiky texture, some round flowers, differing shades of foliage and the all-important cascading feature.