October 22, 2013
With autumn fast approaching it's the perfect time to enjoy some favorite plants that are putting on a beautiful show here at MSU's Truck Crops Branch Station in Crystal Springs. One of my absolute favorite fall plants that commands attention is pampas grass. This perennial grass with wiry serrated leaves is definitely not shy, with flower heads that can normally shoot 10 feet tall. But look at this dwarf selection called 'Pumila', which only grows 6 feet tall. The flower heads are extremely dense and the stalks are held in tight groupings. This is an easy care plant that thrives in hot, full sun exposures like this landscape bed. Trends in plant foliage color tend to go in streaks and right now purple leafed plants are in. One of the best in recent years is Mahogany Splendor hibiscus. This plant has dramatic purple burgundy leaves with coarse, deep serrated edges. On first glance you might think this is a purple Japanese maple. Mahogany Splendor is perfect for our hot and dry Mississippi gardens. This plant is a vigorous grower and tolerates pruning well. In fact this specimen has been cut back a couple of times this year. Another dramatic landscape plant is the large grass Pennisetum 'Vertigo'. The coarse wide leaves of this grass are dark purple black. Reaching 4 feet tall or more, the upright growth of this grass creates a landscape presence. This plant requires little maintenance and should be planted in the full sun for best color. 'Vertigo' should be considered an annual except on the coast where it may be perennial. So go ahead and try some of these easy to grow and beautiful plants in your landscape next year. I'm Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.