23 September 2009

Purple Passion

While in Atlanta last fall, I was impressed by the 7-feet (2 m) tall, purple-leaf plants growing in the corner of the botanical garden outdoor cafe. A sign indicated they were Persian Shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus). Once back home, I described them to my landscape architect friends who told me they never grow 7-feet tall in this climate, unless they overwinter in a greenhouse, a most likely scenario.

This year, I bought one and have been impressed by its growth over the summer. Although not getting to the height of the Atlanta plants, the Strobilanthes dyerianus produced its intense iridescent purple leaves. This tropical beauty from southeast Asia loves a dark, hot, humid environment. They were very popular in the Victorian era, but are new to most gardeners now.

My 3-feet (1 m) high plant loves its digs. It was planted on the north side of a fence, in an area where moss grows because of the dampness, and our hot humid Washington summers are famous. Online research indicates it can be rooted easily from cuttings, and can be kept as a houseplant. The plan is to take a few snips soon and grow more during winter for next year. They will compliment the taller castor bean plants with their tinge of maroon/purple in the leaves.

For The Record:
  • Somewhat clay soil with organics added
  • Full shade
  • No fertilizer
  • Mulched to retain soil moisture

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: zinnia, nicotiana, asters, nasturtiums (again), cosmos, acidanthera, canna
  • Harvested: 2 peppers


Nancy said...
Well, I want one! I bet they look beautiful in a mass planting.