What type of plants comes to mind when you are planning what to plant in your containers?

I’m willing to bet that purple hopbush (Dodonaea viscosa ‘Purpurea’) and bush morning glory (Convolvulus cneorum) probably weren’t the first plants that came to mind.

Admittedly, I tend to think of using plants known for their flowers or succulents in my containers.  That is until a trip to California that I took this past April.

In the Napa Valley region of northern California, sits Cornerstone Sonoma, which describes itself as “a wine country marketplace featuring a collection of world-class shopping, boutique wine rooms, artisanal foods, art-inspired gardens.”

Believe me; it is all that and more.  There was so much to see, but what caught my attention were some unusual, yet beautifully planted containers.

Purple hopbush (Dodonaea viscosa ‘Purpurea’), shrubby germander (Teucrium fruiticans), and violas.
Square steel containers were filled with plants that are most well-known for their foliage and are seldom used in pots.

I was intrigued, especially when the plants used are a part of the southwestern plant palette.

There were quite a few things about this type of container planting that appealed to me.

One, it is low-maintenance – no deadheading required.  Just some light pruning 2 – 3 times a year, to control their size.

Second, the plants are all drought tolerant (with the exception of the violas).

Third, I like seeing new ways of doing things and using plants prized for their foliage in containers is something we don’t see too often.  

Fast forward a few months, and I had to rethink what to add to the large, blue planter by my front entry.  Why not try the same arrangement?


Granted, the plants are smaller than those I saw in California, but given a few months, they should grow in nicely.

As you can see, purple hopbush will grow taller, and its evergreen foliage will add both shades of purple and green to this space.  This shrub is one of those highly-prized plants that does well in both sun and filtered shade.

The silvery gray foliage of bush morning glory will create great color contrast with the darker greens of the other plants.  It may not flower much in this semi-shady corner, but I primarily want it for the color of its leaves.

Lastly, I wanted to use a plant that had bright green foliage, so I added a single foxtail asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus Myers), which will thrive in this semi-shady exposure. 

What plants, that are known for their foliage, would you use in containers? 

To read more about my trip to Cornerstone Sonoma and its gardens, click here

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