No, this post is not about a law firm, despite the sound of its title! Rather, these are the three plants that comprise a hanging basket on my side porch. I tend to like to use a triad of colors in my container designs, and this basket is no different. Deep pink and blue violet are analogous, or near one another on the color wheel, and the yellow is a complementary contrast to both of them. I find it a very cheerful combination.
The yellow I chose is Verbena ‘Lanai Lime Green.’ This verbena’s blooms are a pale yellow, with a very slight green tint. It has a nice trailing habit, making it a good choice for hanging baskets. It likes to be kept moist, and sulks if allowed to become too dry. This one is still recovering from a temporary dry spell. It prefers full sun, and needs to be dead-headed when the flower heads fade. In my mind, the pale color of its blooms make it a poor choice for this basket, whose other flowers have a much brighter color value. Additionally, this basket is usually viewed from the driveway, in bright sunshine, so the pale yellow really washes out. Continuing in the vein of yesterday’s “Annuals’ Report Card” I award Verbena ‘Lanai Lime Green’ a grade of B-. I give myself a D for choosing it, though!
For purple, I chose I plant that is new to me, Scaevola ‘Whirlwind Blue,’ also known as Fan Flower. Like the verbena, it cascades nicely out of the basket. It likes full sun and is tolerant of fairly dry soil. It does not require dead-heading. Since mine is hanging high, I cannot speak to its “critter-resistance,” but I know that Jason, of A Garden in the City, reported that something ate his. On the other hand, I did see Fan Flower used to great effect as a bedding plant at the Bethel Woods Performing Arts Center, in the Catskill region of New York. Scaevola is also available in white. I like this plant quite well, and award it a much coveted A+!
The third member of the triad is Portulaca grandiflora ‘Mojave Red,’ or Purslane. Though it is called “red,” to my eyes, these flowers lean more toward very bright pink. In fact, I had been hoping to find ‘Mojave Pink,’ which I used last year and absolutely loved, but the nursery did not have it. This Purslane is wonderful. It spills freely from its container, thrives in the heat, tolerates dry conditions, and its blooms fall cleanly from the plant when they are spent. Besides red and pink, this series of Portulaca is available in yellow, white, and a pale orange. The only drawback I have noticed is that its flowers stay closed on rainy days. In my book, Portulaca ‘Mojave Red’ gets an A+.
Keeping hanging baskets watered well can be problematic, especially if the baskets are lined with coco-fiber, which the water sometimes drains straight through. My solution is too take the basket down, place it in a plastic bin, and fill that bin with water. Then I leave the basket to soak for an hour or two. Doing this twice a week has worked well for me, even during our recent two week spate of ninety-degrees-plus weather with no rain. Being under cover as it is, the basket benefits little from rain, so it’s important to remember it even if the weather is wet! The only other thing I do for this basket is turn it every few days, so each of the plants gets its share of full sun exposure.
So for next year, this “law firm basket” will renew the contracts of Purslane and Scaevola, but Verbena will be looking for another position somewhere else. I will begin taking applications for its replacement in May 2014.