Trailing plants add motion to your gardenEvery garden has an element of flow to its design. Even if it only has one plant, the flow is to draw your attention to that one plant. Most people think this element is strictly how your eye travels from one focal point to another. That is a big part of the flow that exists within a garden layout. Another factor of flow exists at a smaller level, in the form of pots and containers. Not only can one’s eyes dance around from one color to another or from a short form to a tall one, they can also follow a flow through trailing plants.
Every garden has an element of flow to its design. Even if it only has one plant, the flow is to draw your attention to that one plant. Most people think this element is strictly how your eye travels from one focal point to another. That is a big part of the flow that exists within a garden layout. Another factor of flow exists at a smaller level, in the form of pots and containers. Not only can one’s eyes dance around from one color to another or from a short form to a tall one, they can also follow a flow through trailing plants.
Trailing or vining plants give great character to containers or hanging baskets. In fact, many of them actually create the element of motion within the design. Not only do they look great spilling from a container from between the plants, but they also add a longer trail of color that just seems to ooze from the picture in which is it planted.
There are so many nice trailing plants you can purchase each year that can add fullness to a scene with great bold colors, or long flowing arms that seem to dance in the wind with the slightest breeze.
One of the most common varieties of trailing plants is called the sweet potato vine. It comes in great colors, large or small leaves, and can trail up to 3 to 5 feet in length in ideal conditions. The most popular shade seems to be the gorgeous chartreuse color of the “Marguerite” or the deeply dissected leaf of the golden colored “Emerald Lace.” This vine color seems to step right out of a design and give such great dimension. There is also a nearly black shade that exists with the “Blackie” variety or the dissected selection of “Midnight Lace.” These vines are stunning when blended with the proper contrasting colors for the best effect. “Sweet Caroline” is a copper-colored option, which has a leaf color mostly found in that of the coral bells and certain coleus selections, but neither of those options is a vine. “Pink Frost” is a variegated selection that produces smaller cut leaves with shades of white, green and pink. It is a vigorous grower and will trail down the side of a container in no time. All selections work well in full sun to full shade, but their true colors are most stunning in the sun.
Another common option is the vinca vine, usually sold as an accent plan in the nurseries during the spring rush. They are available with solid green leaves to the variegated types with both white and yellow accents. They prefer full sun to partial shade with good moisture in a well-drained soil. If the soil becomes too wet, this plant will slowly wither away and die. Once the vinca vine begins to grow, its shoots will become long and rapidly cascade down toward the ground. If they touch the soil below, these stems may even take root. Usually I encourage people to pinch the ends once they are within a few inches of hitting the ground. This will cause them to send more vines from the crown and create a more full vine. Their slender stems will freely blow in the wind, giving you a sense of light motion.
Licorice vine is a plant that has silvery, velvety leaves. The “Lemon Licorice” and the “Petite Licorice” vines have finer foliage in shades of yellow and silver. The plants only get about a foot or so long and create a rigid effect. The “Silver Mist” licorice vine can get over 2 feet in width and trail through plants with its wiry stems and round silver leaves. It looks amazing coming through plants of red, black and purple like white tendrils trying to escape. These plants are rarely damaged by wind and do not have a free-flowing element.
If you are looking for something in the shade of silver that has a nice flowing character to it, try the “Silver Falls” Dichondra. This plant has small round, silvery leaves on white to silver stems that rapidly grow to 3 feet in length or more. They are great for hanging baskets or tall containers and urns. Numerous stems will trail down, forming a thick mat of leaves that gracefully blow in the wind. I planted some of these as hanging baskets this year to give the effect of Spanish Moss hanging from the trees. The heat and direct sunlight only increase their growth rate, as they love the warm air. It is one of my favorite plants and I would highly recommend it for its shimmering tone. This plant also comes in solid green, but is not nearly as appealing as the silver.
Creeping Jenny, or Moneywort, is another trailing plant that has round leaves and comes in shades of green to a brilliant yellow. As it grows, it becomes quite dense and eye-catching from a distance. This plant does require a fair amount of water, so do not let it dry out in the hot sun and expect it to keep its lush look. Heat and dryness will scorch the leaves of this plant and make it appear unhealthy.
Try using some of these varieties in some of your containers the next time you are trying a new design. See what colors and structures best fit the look you are trying to achieve. With all of the combinations to choose from, you will always be able to create a new and unique look that will demand attention.
The trailing vines not only add a great essence to your containers, but they add that element of flow and motion that can only add a little more serenity to your garden. Have you danced with your plants lately? I am sure they will be happy to dance along with you on any given day. After all, a garden is a place to relax and feel at ease.