Three Neat Plants

Hibiscus acetosella Mahogany Splendor at Hayefield.com

It’s been a long while since I’ve picked out a few of my favorite plants to focus on, and the list of candidates is getting rather long. So, it’s high time to pick out three that happen to look particularly good right now, starting with…

Cranberry Hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella)

Hibiscus acetosella Red Shield at Hayefield.com

‘Red Shield’ cranberry hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella) with ‘Hella Lacy’ New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), an orange chrysanthemum, and ‘Lady in Red’ Texas sage (Salvia coccinea)

Cranberry hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella, a.k.a. H. eetveldianus) has a bunch of other common names, including false roselle, African rose mallow, red-leaf hibiscus, and red shield hibiscus. Like other species of hibiscus, it produces showy flowers–in this case, lovely rosy pink, hollyhock-like blossoms–but it usually doesn’t start until in mid- to late fall, when the days are short: fine in frost-free areas but too late in many parts of the U.S.. Fortunately, it’s primarily prized as an outstanding foliage plant. The dark leaves and stems are a normal feature of the species, and it grows quickly enough to make a good show even in cool areas, so you can raise it from seed each year, if you wish.

Hibiscus acetosella Red Shield at Hayefield.com

‘Red Shield’ cranberry hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella)

The shade and intensity of the leaf color can vary depending on the growing conditions as well as genetic variation, ranging from bronzy red to rich reddish purple to deep burgundy. Leaf shapes can be rather different too. Though “red shield hibiscus” is a common name, you’ll also find seeds and plants sold as ‘Red Shield’, and they tend to have somewhat rounded lobes. Those above are seedlings; the one below is a ‘Red Shield’ that I bought as a plant.

Hibiscus acetosella Red Shield at Hayefield.com

‘Red Shield’ cranberry hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella) with blue-leaved rose (Rosa glauca), ‘Gerald Darby’ iris, Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra’), dwarf fleeceflower (Persicaria affinis), and ‘Floricolor Gold Ring’ coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides)

‘Red Shield’ is a beauty, but I like the ones with pointy lobes even better. You’ll often hear cranberry hibiscus compared to Japanese maple (Acer palmatum)…

Acer palmatum at Hayefield.com

Red-leaved Japanese maple (Acer palmatum, unknown selection)

…and that likeness is particularly noticeable with seeds or plants of ‘Mahogany Splendor’.

Hibiscus acetosella Mahogany Splendor leaf at Hayefield.com

‘Mahogany Splendor’ cranberry hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella)

The similarity can extend to its general effect as a foliage accent in the garden:

Acer palmatum at Hayefield.com

Red-leaved Japanese maple (Acer palmatum)

Hibiscus acetosella Mahogany Splendor at Hayefield.com

‘Mahogany Splendor’ hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella)

That’s over 12 years of growth on the maple and about 3 months on the hibiscus.  Cranberry hibiscus makes an excellent short-term foliage contribution while you’re waiting for an equally dark but slower-growing woody plant, such as Diabolo ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Monlo’) or a purple smokebush (Cotinus). In mild climates, it can be a shrub in its own right; it’s reportedly hardy in Zone 8 to 11.

I start my plants by sowing the seed in early March and setting the pot on a heat mat.

Hibiscus acetosella seeds at Hayefield.com

Cranberry hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella) seeds

They usually germinate in 3 to 5 days. The seedlings are green at first, but some of the reddish color shows up on the first true leaves.

Hibiscus acetosella Red Shield seedlings at Hayefield.com

Cranberry hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella) seedlings [sown March 8, shown here March 25]

I usually keep them indoors under lights until mid- to late May and plant them out in early June.

Hibiscus acetosella Mahogany Splendor at Hayefield.com

Just-planted ‘Mahogany Splendor’ cranberry hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella) [June 5]

Cranberry hibiscus can get quite tall, so I’d suggest setting it more toward the middle or back of the border, if you can give it a spot where it won’t get smothered or shaded for the first month or so. I mostly only have space right along the edge for annuals, so I work with it there.

Hibiscus acetosella Mahogany Splendor at Hayefield.com

‘Mahogany Splendor’ cranberry hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella) with ‘Coppelia’ sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), purple Japanese burnet (Sanguisorba tenuifolia ‘Purpurea’), ‘Grace’ smokebush (Cotinus), golden elderberry (Sambucus nigra ‘Aurea’), and purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’) [September 2]

Cranberry hibiscus responds well to regular pinching (every 2 to 3 weeks in early and midsummer) if you’d like to keep it relatively low and bushy.

Hibiscus acetosella Mahogany Splendor at Hayefield.com

‘Mahogany Splendor’ cranberry hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella) [left, foreground]

If you don’t pinch it at all, it gets very tall (the one below is over 7 feet) and upright: great if you want a tall, fairly narrow accent. But when you grow it that way, it’s prone to toppling over or splitting if it doesn’t have a structure or sturdy companion to lean on. Or, you could stake it, of course. That’s a small price to pay for its big impact.

Hibiscus acetosella Mahogany Splendor at Hayefield.com

‘Mahogany Splendor’ cranberry hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella) with Canna indica ‘Purpurea’ and marigold (Tagetes patula)

You can make all kinds of great combinations with the burgundy foliage of cranberry hibiscus.

Hibiscus acetosella Mahogany Splendor with pennisetum Jade Princess at Hayefield.com

‘Mahogany Splendor’ cranberry hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella) with Pennisetum ‘Jade Princess’ and ‘Oranges and Lemons’ blanket flower (Gaillardia)

Use it to repeat the dark parts of companions, or as a contrast to white or bright yellow.

Hibiscus acetosella Mahogany Splendor at Hayefield.com

‘Mahogany Splendor’ cranberry hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella) with great burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis) and ‘Henry Eilers’ coneflower (Rudbeckia subtomentosa)

It’s also quite nice with red-flowered companions.

Hibiscus acetosella Red Shield at Hayefield.com

‘Red Shield’ cranberry hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella) with Crocosmia ‘Emberglow’ and parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) flowers

It’s pretty with silver and pink, too, though I end up putting all of my seedlings with the bright colors out front, so I’ve never gotten around to making any silver- or pink-and-burgundy combinations with it.

If you can, site it where it will be backlit in the morning or evening; the leaves glow like stained glass.

Hibiscus acetosella Mahogany Splendor at Hayefield.com

‘Mahogany Splendor’ cranberry hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella)

I treat my plants as annuals, but as reader Niren J. noted in a comment on my last post, it roots easily if you put a cutting in a glass of water at the end of the season, so you could keep a bit of it indoors for the winter to get a jump-start next spring.

Besides the common ‘Red Shield’ and ‘Mahogany Splendor’ from seed, there are some patented, vegetatively propagated cultivars, including ‘Panama Bronze’, ‘Panama Red’, and ‘Maple Sugar’

Hibiscus acetosella Maple Sugar with Lettuce Mascara with Giant Exhibition Limelight coleus at Hayefield.com

‘Maple Sugar’ cranberry hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella) with ‘Mascara’ lettuce and ‘Giant Exhibition Limelight’ coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides)

…as well as ‘Haight Ashbury’, with trippy pink splashing on the leaves. It’s interesting, but you have to watch that it doesn’t revert to the plain burgundy form. I do not recommend putting it next to a companion that also has pink-spotted leaves, as I did below. Oh well.

Hibiscus acetosella Haight Ashbury at Hayefield.com

‘Haight Ashbury’ cranberry hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella)

Besides looking beautiful, cranberry hibiscus is edible: mostly the flowers, buds, and leaves are used. I must admit that I’d never attempted to sample it before writing this. I tried nibbling on a leaf, and it wasn’t bad: a bit sour, rather like sorrel. I suppose it would look pretty in a salad. For more information about its edible uses, see Hibiscus acetosella.

A few sources that carry plants and seeds (as of September 30, 2014) include…

Yoke-leaved Amicia (Amicia zygomeris)

Gee, doesn’t that name make you want to rush out and buy this plant? No? Well, take a look and see if that changes your mind.

Amicia zygomeris at Hayefield

Yoke-leaved amicia (Amicia zygomeris)

Isn’t that cool? It’s certainly distinctive, anyway: something that you’ll never confuse with another plant. A member of the legume family, yoke-leaved amicia is native to Mexico. (For more historical information and a detailed botanical description, see Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, Volume 69 [1843].)

Yoke-leaved amicia is reportedly root hardy into Zone 7 and fully hardy in Zone 9 and south. In cooler areas, you can treat it as an annual or try to overwinter it indoors. I haven’t found much information about how to do that, but I’m planning to dig it up and keep it in the basement this winter, as I do with my dahlias and cannas.

Amicia zygomeris at Hayefield.com

Yoke-leaved amicia (Amicia zygomeris)

Where it does overwinter, it produces an upright, multi-stemmed plant that can reach about 7 feet tall.  I started with a 6-inch-tall mail-order plant in June, and it’s now well over 5 feet, with a single stem. Even one stem is good, but the more stems it has, the more you get to enjoy its best feature: its rounded, purple-stained stipules.

Amicia zygomeris at Hayefield.com

Yoke-leaved amicia (Amicia zygomeris) stipules

They’re evident at the nodes closest to the tips of new shoots; below that, they eventually drop off.

Amicia zygomeris at Hayefield.com

Yoke-leaved amicia (Amicia zygomeris)

The foliage of yoke-leaved amicia is a glaucous green, with loosely heart-shaped leaflets.

Amicia zygomeris at Hayefield.com

Yoke-leaved amicia (Amicia zygomeris) foliage

It has an interesting trait that’s shared by several other members of the legume family: nyctitropism, or the tendency for the foliage to fold up at night. Yoke-leaved amicia leaves droop some on cloudy days, as well, but not as noticeably as they do at night.

Amicia zygomeris at Hayefield.com

Yoke-leaved amicia (Amicia zygomeris) on a sunny day

Amicia zygomeris at Hayefield.com

Yoke-leaved amicia (Amicia zygomeris) at night

Yoke-leaved amicia does flower, with yellow blossoms, but it has never done that for me, so I can’t speak to the exact timing. I’ve read reports ranging from all summer and fall to late summer and fall to fall and winter. I guess it must not set much seed, because I couldn’t find any sources; it’s usually propagated by cuttings. Two sources that have plants for sale as of September 30, 2014, are Plant Delights and Accents for Home and Garden (Pepper’s Greenhouses).

Oh my, oh my…there’s an incredibly fantastic-looking variegated version too, called ‘John’s Big Splash’, with irregular, light yellow to cream markings. Sadly, I can’t find a current source, but if you can bear being taunted, feel free to take a look at its listing at Plant Delights.

Bitter Panic Grass (Panicum amarum)

Last up, another plant that could really use a good PR agent, because the common name “bitter panic grass” certainly isn’t going to have folks clamoring to buy it. Maybe something like “blue lace grass” would be more appealing; it’s certainly more appropriate.

Panicum amarum in bloom at Hayefield.com

Bitter panic grass (Panicum amarum) habit

Well, for now, it’s still bitter panic grass (or coastal panic grass, if you prefer). Native to the East Coast and Gulf Coast states, it usually grows in full sun and dry, sandy sites; in fact, it’s often used in dune stabilization projects. I’m glad I didn’t know that when I first considered trying it, because I wouldn’t have even attempted to grow it in my somewhat heavy and sometimes very wet soil. It certainly hasn’t minded my growing conditions. Over the last 10 years, it has become one of my favorite ornamental grasses.

Panicum amarum in leaf at Hayefield.com

Bitter panic grass (Panicum amarum) in leaf–center–with purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) and ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora) [July 7, 2008]

In leaf (above), bitter panic grass looks much like some of the blue-leaved switch grasses (Panicum virgatum), such as ‘Heavy Metal’ and ‘Prairie Sky’.

Panicum amarum in Easter Border at Hayefield.com

Bitter panic grass (Panicum amarum) in center with golden lace (Patrinia scabiosifolia), orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida), ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora), and Joe-Pye weed (Eutrochium maculatum) [August 27, 2009]

This warm-season grass is very distinctive later in the season, though, as its wispy, gracefully arching flowerheads form and then mature into seedheads.

Panicum amarum at Hayefield.com

Bitter panic grass (Panicum amarum) with orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida) and ‘The Blues’ little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) [August 23, 2013]

The flowerheads and developing seedheads are silvery and soft, inviting you to run your fingers through them.

Panicum amarum Dewey Blue at Hayefield.com

‘Dewey Blue’ bitter panic grass (Panicum amarum) in seed

The seedheads eventually turn tan in mid- to late fall.

Panicum amarum with Cosmos sulphureus and Pennisetum alopecuroides Cassian at Hayefield.com

Bitter panic grass (Panicum amarum) with orange cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus) and ‘Cassian’ fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) [October 23, 2013]

Compared to switch grasses, the fall color of bitter panic grass isn’t spectacular: kind of a dull yellow to peachy yellow.

Panicum amarum fall color at Hayefield.com

Bitter panic grass (Panicum amarum) fall color

Still, it’s pretty enough to be welcome in an autumn border.

Panicum amarum at Hayefield.com

Bitter panic grass (Panicum amarum)–the tall, yellowish grass near the middle–with (starting from front) ‘Cassian’ fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides), Tatarian aster (Aster tataricus), ‘The Blues’ little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida) seedheads, ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora), and ‘Prairie Sky’ switch grass (Panicum virgatum) [October 18, 2012]

As the season progresses, the plants dry to light tan.

Panicum amarum late fall at Hayefield.com

Bitter panic grass (Panicum amarum) in November [on right side]

Its winter presence is outstanding, with stout, sturdy stems and seedheads that hold up well in snow and ice.

Panicum amarum in Easter Border winter at Hayefield.com

Bitter panic grass (Panicum amarum)–in the foreground, behind the sunflower seedheads–with pink muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris), Joe-Pye weed (Eutrochium maculatum), ‘Karl Foerster feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora). orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida) seedheads, and ‘The Blues’ little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) [December 16, 2008]

Panicum amarum Dewey Blue in February at Hayefield.com

Bitter panic grass (Panicum amarum) seedheads in February

Bitter panic grass is best suited to larger gardens, because it can get quite large over time. It’s basically a clump-former but expands gradually by short rhizomes. Its height is often given as around 4 feet, but I imagine that must be in its native habitat, because here it easily reaches about 6 feet when the flowers are forming.

Panicum amarum Dewey Blue in bloom with Schizachyrium scoparium and Pennisetum alopecuroides Cassian at Hayefield.com

‘Dewey Blue’ bitter panic grass (Panicum amarum) with purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Joe-Pye weed (Eutrochium maculatum), and ‘Cassian’ fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides)

As the seeds develop, the plumes begin to cascade. In a crowded border, surrounded by shrubs and sturdy perennial companions, it stays fairly upright and close to 6 feet. In a more open setting, it develops a wide, fountain-shaped form. The 5-year-old clump below, for example, is about 16 inches across at the base but about 7 feet from side to side at the widest point, with a height of about 5 feet.

Panicum amarum habit at Hayefield.com

Bitter panic grass (Panicum amarum) with orange cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus) and ‘Cassian’ fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides)

Younger plants seem to be more upright, so if that’s too sprawly-looking for you, you could try lifting and dividing it, or maybe just root pruning it, every 3 years or so. I’ve gotten to really like the arching effect, and since the stems don’t keel over completely even when wet, I’m very happy to leave them undisturbed.

Panicum amarum habit at Hayefield.com

Bitter panic grass (Panicum amarum) in The Shrubbery at Hayefield

Despite the name, the leaves must not taste bitter, because the boys enjoy nibbling on it. The deer have never bothered it, though.

Panicum amarum Dewey Blue with alpaca at Hayefield.com

Daniel snacking on ‘Dewey Blue’ bitter panic grass (Panicum amarum)

There aren’t many selections of this species. ‘Atlantic’ is a seed strain that was released in 1981 by the Cape May Plant Materials Center in Cape May, New Jersey. Its original genetic material came from Virginia Beach, Virginia. (For more information, see ‘Atlantic’ Coastal Panicgrass.)

If you want to buy Panicum amarum for your garden, you’re far more likely to find the cultivar ‘Dewey Blue’, selected by Rick Darke from a particularly blue plant growing in Dewey, Delaware.

Panicum amarum Dewey Blue in bloom at Hayefield.com

‘Dewey Blue’ bitter panic grass (Panicum amarum) behind ‘The Blues’ little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)

It *is* a lovely color, but as I’ve never seen a native stand of the grass, I don’t know how different it is from the usual hue. I do know that the few offspring of my one original plant of ‘Dewey Blue’, which is now around 10 years old, all look pretty much the same. (Of the pictures in this post, the ones labeled simply “bitter panic grass” are those seedlings.)

Panicum amarum in leaf at Hayefield.com

Bitter panic grass (Panicum amarum)–at top left–with ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora), ‘The Blues’ little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), and purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) [July 12, 2010]

Plants of ‘Dewey Blue’ aren’t too hard to find through mail-order nurseries, such as Digging Dog and Plant Delights. (I swear I don’t have any affiliation with Plant Delights, or any of the other sources I give for seeds or plants; they just happen to be a source of some really neat things.) Santa Rosa Gardens–a place I did order from this year and was very pleased with–also carries ‘Dewey Blue’ plants, and they’re currently (as of September 30, 2014) on sale for just $2.99: Panicum amarum ‘Dewey Blue’.

I also found one place that sells seed of the species in packets, rather than by the pound: Roundstone Native Seed.

Reported hardiness zones for bitter panic grass range from Zone 2 to 9 to Zone 5 to 9. I know it’s fully hardy here in Zone 6, but I couldn’t find much first-hand reporting on its performance in colder areas. If you want to see its native range to judge for yourself, you can find a map at Panicum amarum.

Panicum amarum in seed at Hayefield.com

Bitter panic grass (Panicum amarum) in seed

15 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Alice on October 1, 2014 at 7:52 am

    Your photos are just the PR agent that bitter panic grass needs! What a great foliage accent the Amicia zygomeris provides. Thanks for such an interesting post.

    I’m glad I could show you something of interest, Alice. I sure wish the Amicia would flower and set seed here; it would be great to have an easy way to grow and share it.
    -Nan

  2. Posted by Karen on October 1, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Good Morning! I loved your post, but am very partial to Daniels picture!

    Hah – trust him to steal the show. Normally the boys aren’t much for eye contact, but I get it when they want to make a point (in this case, it’s “Are you seeing this? I wouldn’t be eating your garden if you’d just feed me.”).
    -Nan

  3. Posted by christine on October 1, 2014 at 10:44 am

    the bitter panic grass sure makes a statement:-) very pretty

    Good morning, Christine, and thanks for reading!
    -Nan

  4. Posted by Barbara Dashwood on October 1, 2014 at 11:12 am

    How interesting about the Hibiscus acetosella! I made a trip to the mainland recently and gorged myself in the garden centres and nurseries around Chilliwack, BC. Living on an island can be paradise at times but oh my, we do miss out a lot in the horticultural variety. Anyway, one centre had huge displays of the hibiscus at the entrance to the store. I thought they were gorgeous but had a shopping list which had already been seriously violated and, not knowing anything about them, passed them up. Had I known they were probably hardy in our area, or so easy to propagate, I would have nabbed one and found a place somewhere in our car (my lap?). Nice to see a Canadian company carrying the seed. Beautiful pics, Nan. Hope things are going well with your new book. Thanks for sharing so generously. Barbara, Victoria, BC.

    Aw, sorry to hear about the missed opportunity, Barbara, but maybe you can try the seed route. I was thrilled to find a Canadian source for that one, at least. Have a lovely October; it’s absolutely gorgeous here!
    -Nan

  5. Posted by Cynthia Newby on October 1, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    While I love the “exotic” annuals, I am most happy to have the grass combo suggestions for northwest CT — plan to incorporate in my Lagniappe Garden. Thanks for the article, Cynthia newby, Roxbury CT

    That’s great to hear, Cynthia. I hope you enjoy the bitter panic grass as much as I have.
    -Nan

  6. Posted by Tiiu Mayer on October 1, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Hi Nan – I love the in-depth tutorial format with multiple pix of the same plant. Red-foliaged hibiscus is my new must have. thanks! Tiiu

    I’m not surprised to hear that the dark foliage appealed to you, Tiiu. I hope you’ve had a wonderful gardening season!
    -Nan

  7. Love the Amicia zygomeris. Wonder if it would give some competition to the sesbania for height… All that colour at the base of the leaf stalks looks like blooms…

    Looks like cassia or crotalaria… How many families are those taxonomists gonna create out of the rattlepods?

    Good luck on over-wintering… I think I’d put it in a sunny window… with the brugs, peppers, and citrus.

    Yes, its habit of folding at night reminded me very much of the cassia I grew last year. Looking at pictures of the flowers, they appear very similar, as well. Overwintering the amicia indoors in a warm setting probably would be better than the basement, but I don’t like keeping plants in my living space. Since I’ve stopped overwintering plants up here, I no longer have to deal with fungus gnats or aphids on my seedlings.
    -Nan

  8. What a great write up and fantastic pictures. I think if you tried you could sell ragweed and crabgrass… And even manage to find a variegated version to make it more tempting!
    I will find a place for the hibiscus next year. Shame on me for passing it by, I never knew what it could do!
    Frank

    Gee, maybe I could make more money writing for catalogs than books! Or perhaps press releases for new plants. Nah, I’ll stick with plants I’ve actually grown here and liked. But hmmm…could I interest you in a lovely variegated poison ivy?
    -Nan

  9. Thanks for your thorough plant reviews and the great visuals. You’ve convinced me that I should try growing the hibiscus again. I’ve tried both ‘Mahogany Splendor’ and ‘Haight Ashbury’ – both in pots – but was disappointed by their relatively short life-spans. If I treat them as annuals and plant them in the ground rather than pots, perhaps I’ll find them more satisfying. The foliage is certainly beautiful.

    It’s worth a try, anyway. They love the moist, alpaca manure-enriched bed along my front porch, but they do just as well farther out where the soil gets quite dry in summer; they’re a bit shorter there, but sturdier.
    -Nan

  10. Love all your photos and the plants are wonderful, but I can´t find them here!
    So, you inspired me to find my own “top three” which I will do this weeek. Thank you!
    Susie in Sweden

    Hi Susie. There are some European sources for all three plants, if you feel you want to try tracking them down: among others, Jungle Seeds for Hibiscus acetosella, Urban Jungle for Amicia zygomeris, and OMC Seeds for Panicum amarum. But it’s great for you to share your experiences with your own favorites!
    -Nan

  11. Oh my! I’m with Tuii, love the in depth writing with photos of the plants with different combinations, especially since I already grow many of the other plants! I’m definitely getting a red-leaf hibiscus next year. I’ve seen them before but never really knew if they would make much of a statement but I see they clearly can! I like the other two as well, although panicum “Heavy Metal” has gone a bit crazy in my garden at times. Thank you for this lovely post!

    Thanks for reading, and welcome! Have fun making combinations with the hibiscus; it’s a beauty–especially at this time of year, when its foliage stays dark while other leaves are turning bright colors.
    -Nan

  12. Posted by Ilene Sternberg on October 3, 2014 at 3:09 am

    FABULOUS suggestions!

    Thanks, Ilene! Great to hear from you. I hope you’re enjoying the beautiful fall we’ve been having, though I’m sure you too are looking forward to the much-needed rain that’s on its way toward us.
    -Nan

  13. Posted by Margie S. on October 4, 2014 at 12:32 am

    Nan, I absolutely loved this post …especially the multiple pictures of the same plant used with different ones, such lovely combinations! I just have to try the red-leaf hibiscus next season. I hope they’ll thrive in my zone 5. Any suggestions would be appreciated. It is really chilly here tonight, the temps are already in the mid 30’s and we are in a frost warning. I just hate to see all the lovely flowers die back. Feeling kind of sad right now because I didn’t get a chance to cover any of my plants to protect them from frost since I’ve been under-the-weather today and didn’t even venture outside. Guess I’ll have to wait and see what I find in the morning… I’ve got my fingers crossed! ~Margie

    Hi Margie! I don’t see why the hibiscus shouldn’t do fine for you as well, as long as you don’t set it out until early to mid-June. I hope you’re feeling better today, and that you didn’t get frosted last night. It’s our turn for the cold blast tonight, so I know that feeling of dread!
    -Nan

  14. Posted by tim on October 7, 2014 at 11:40 am

    ive loved the pics of your panicum for years,…inspiring,… and been trying to get it in the uk for years too, but only one place has recently started selling it.
    knoll gardens said they trailed it here (most of the uk is zone 7-8) and it didnt do very well so they decided not to sell it. im assuming because of the shorter summers that its like dallas blue which doesnt start blooming until october and ive never got the long sweepy heads like you have in pics of it in past posts (surrounding a chair in your garden). nevertheless im still going to try dewey blue.

    I appreciate you sharing those insights, Tim. I’m only in Zone 6, but yes, summer heat is clearly more of an issue than winter cold in this case. Since it’s the developing seeds that weigh Panicum amarum’s plumes into that sweeping form, you’re losing out on that lovely feature when the flowers start too late. If you do decide to give ‘Dewey Blue’ a try, I’ll be interested to hear how it turns out for you.
    -Nan

  15. Wow, I am in love with that bitter panic grass, and according to the map, I can grow it in Texas. I am very curious to see how it would do in my very-underwatered Austin garden.

    I hope it thrives for you, Lori. Based on its native range, it sure looks like it might!
    -Nan

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