Dallas Morning News - May 27, 2021
Summer Color and Pentas
One of the landscape design concepts I've used and recommended to others is changing to a degree. I used to advise homeowners to avoid sprinkling annual color all over the place and instead use masses of plants of one color at key focal points. For more distant views, whites or yellows worked the best and for more closeup viewing, the deeper colors worked well - reds, blues and purples. If thought out and placed carefully this practice can also save money by having to buy fewer plants.
My new concept is to use a wide ranging mix of plants. It's a little bit like how my abstract art is done. This planting concept uses many different colors, textures and sizes all in the same beds. This technique can be used with annuals or perennials that return each year and also works for container gardening.
Multiple colored pentas used in containers for the summer
Now is the time to give it a try. A wide range summer annuals are nicely available in the garden centers. Warm-season annual color plants include lantana, begonias, zinnias, periwinkles (vinca), cosmos, caladiums, impatiens, verbena, pentas and others. Tropical plants also can be used this way. Some of the choices include bougainvillea, mandevilla, allamanda, ixora, hibiscus and others. Even vines can join this party on the vertical surfaces. Consider crossvine, clematis, Texas honeysuckle, coral vine, Carolina jessamine, hyacinth bean, silver lacevine and confederate jasmine.
Some individual plants allow you to use this technique. Pentas are easily available in many colors and sizes. Here's a little more info on this terrific plant.
Pentas (also called Egyptian star cluster) - botanical name is Pentas lanceolata and pronounced PEN-tas lan-see-oh-LAY-tah is used as an annual because it will freeze at the first hard frost. It loves sun but will reward you in partial shade. I have some doing well with just a few hours of full sun during the middle of the day and others doing nicely that only get full sun toward the end of the day. Depending on what varieties you buy, the height of pentas ranges from 15" to 24" or greater with a spread of 12"- 24".
Pentas used with other colors and textures in a mixed planting
Pentas blooms all summer in various shades of reds, whites, purples, pinks and candy stripe. They are easy to establish and easy to grow. Plant them right now in well-drained, well prepared soil. Well-prepared means to use my specs of mixing into the native soil a blend of compost, organic fertilizer, lava sand, Azomite, greensand, dry molasses and whole ground cornmeal.
Pest problems – well I've never seen any, so that’' another benefit. Pentas, like coleus and vinca, has become best known by its botanical name instead of a common name. The name comes from the five lobes at the end of each tubular flower.
Try a lot of different flowers and my controlled chaos mixed beds, but don't forget the pentas.