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CAROLE McCRAY: How to garden with green flowers

on March 23, 2014 1:50 AM

Combine plants with green flowers or green foliage with dark-leaved or variegated plants for a powerful effect in the garden.

Come spring and throughout the summer, there are plants with green flowers for sunny spots and others that even show up greener when planted in the shade.

Coleus rank high as loving shade, partial shade or partial sun. There are several with names to let you know they will not be lacking in green hues. “Wild Lime,” has ruffled lime green leaves and becomes greener in the shade. “Lemon Chiffon” is elegant and feminine looking with soft green leaves and fuchsia spotting its center. Soft yellow and green leaves are on “Coleusaurus Kiwi,” excellent in a large patio pot and as a very good houseplant.

It has been reported by some gardeners that annuals such as zinnias, typically grown in full sun, can appear with stronger green color if planted in a shaded area. Two examples are “Green Envy,” or “Benary’s Giant Lime” to try for rich green flowers. Zinnias are easy-to-grow annuals from seed.

Flowering Tobacco Nicotiana alata “Lime Green” is a three-foot, bushy perennial in USDA Zones 8-10, but can be grown as an annual in colder zones. It is a long time bloomer with trumpet-shaped chartreuse flowers.

Bells of Ireland, whose scientific name is Moluccella laevis, is a cottage-garden classic with white flowers. They are tiny and surrounded by the large green calyces that inspire its common name. This annual grows best in cool weather and its seeds can be sown outdoors in early spring.

Looking for something larger? Plant “Limelight” hydrangea, a six-to-eight-foot panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata “Limelight”) with soft lime green flowers in late summer. It can also be trained as a small tree and is hardy in Zones 3-8.

Drought-tolerant and a plant that takes the heat, coneflower “Green Envy” has mostly light green petals. Toward the center of the flower, petals turn a magenta color while its central cone remains dark green. An ideal perennial for Zones 4-9.

Hellebores appear in late winter or early spring.

They are a nice break to peak through the last of the cold weather’s snow. There are hundreds of hybrid hellebores on the market. Some with green-flowered options are “Green Gambler.” Helleborus argutifolius “Silver Lace” has beautiful silver-flocked leaves and large creamy green flowers and is hardy to Zones 4-9.

Ever thinking of green gladiolus in the garden. “Green Star” has sword-shaped foliage and vivid chartreuse florets. This makes a striking contrast against the brighter flowers in a perennial bed. Look for other green gladiolus at your favorite gardening center in the spring, or you can find them in gardening catalogs. Plant in the late spring for blooms summer through fall.

For a garden with unexpected and unusual colors, go green and experiment with flowers in various shades of green.

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