Gardeners who love to grow combinations of plants are frequently on the look-out for new easy mixes with bold colors. So, consider a mix of geranium, purple heart and sweet potato in your next planter. The plant combination will easily insert splashes of color into any kind of garden you grow.
Attractive Container Gardens
An easy mix of annual geraniums, sweet potato vine, and the tropical purple heart makes a colorful container that needs uncomplicated maintenance. Put the plants together using the thriller-filler-spiller recipe, if you want to calculate a plant combination using directions. (Thrillers are plants that draw the eye, fillers make the area look full, and spillers trail over the edges.)
Hot colors in annual plants mixed in containers add that “wow” factor to a landscape. You may use a single pot as your canvas to devise your mix or you may use separate pots to plug in each plant; each will grow in its own container, and then setting the pots against one another creates the look.
Container gardening, in particular, is a solution for unconventional plant-lovers. Mixing the odd with the simple captivates us and we follow fewer rules than traditional gardeners when deciding which plants belong together.
Grab color from flowers or from foliage and extend seasonal interest, as in this case from summer through fall, or bring plants that have been kept indoors all winter outside to mix with annuals.
Annual Geranium Flowers for Summer Color
The geranium (Pelargonium x hortorum) is an annual plant you may want to grow for its summer color. Gardeners characterize the colors of these blooms as making a location “pop” because a line of geranium flowers easily draws your eye to its point in a garden.
The zonal variety is a geranium which may act as a thriller for a smaller container mix. The habit of a zonal geranium has strong upright flower stems that produce a dense inflorescence called an umbel.
Over the years, the globe-like flower has been grown in reds, pinks, corals, and white or bi-colors and grown as blossoms of singles or doubles.
The foliage of a zonal geranium consists of wide heart-shaped leaves with scalloped edges and dark variegated centers called the zone. Geranium plants grow 12” – 20” tall, will bloom all summer, and like full sun with consistent watering.
In this plant combination of geranium, purple-heart, and sweet potato, the annual geranium, Pelargonium ‘Designer Hot Pink‘ was the cultivar used.
Ivy geranium and scented geranium varieties have less robust individual blooms, which makes them unlikely candidates for the thriller choice in this plant combination. The ivy geranium produces many smaller flowers and stems with a trailing habit. The scented geranium is interesting due to its fragrant foliage and highly textured leaves.
Purple Heart Houseplant Spills Outdoors
Houseplant gardeners have grown purple heart for decades. Whether you call it Tradescantia pallida ‘Purpurea‘ or Setcreasea purpurea ‘Purple Heart,‘ the name will not matter.
Purple heart is so popular among beginning gardeners; it is easily recognizable by its common name wherever you are on the east or west coast or in the Midwest.
The Setcreasea ‘Pink Stripe’ inspires many gardeners to create a special plant combination just for it. The branching of a purple heart makes a strong horizontal statement. Its points will deviate upward or jut out over the edge of a container. The stems do avoid the dramatic spilling effect of say, sweet potato vine, until they absolutely must.
Purple heart produces little-noticed pink flowers where the plant receives sufficient bright light, usually outdoors. Gardeners grow purple-heart indoors more often for its easy care and purple-colored foliage.
Tradescantia pallida ‘Purpurea’ is a tropical plant grown in northern climates as a houseplant, but you can put it outdoors in summer. Purple heart is kept outdoors where the minimum daytime temperature is 55° F and where the nighttime temperature is not less or is in a protected microclimate safe from light frosts.
Purple heart thrives in warm temperatures when planted in a moist well-draining soil. Plant cuttings from the Tradescantia genus to root in water or in a soil-less mix. This makes it an ideal plant to overwinter and save for the next summer.
Sweet Potato Vine Doubles as Filler and Spiller
Sweet potato vine is an equally common plant gardeners treat as an annual in summer, but it, too, may be brought indoors where bright light is accessible. Gardeners prefer the Ipomoea batatas for its trailing foliage over its relatives, the annual favorites with their big flowers, morning glory and moonflower.
Across rows of garden center benches, gardeners quickly spot the chartreuse of Margarita sweet potato vine; it is a classic summer annual used for adding fullness to plant combinations.
Blackie, its relative, offers gardeners a deep purple choice, with deeply lobed leaves that have a maroon underside. Beyond color, it is the shape of the leaves that distinguishes each cultivar:
- ‘Black Heart’ has the similar blackish purple hue of Blackie but in a heart form.
- The leaves of ‘Ace of Spades’ resemble the black spade on playing-cards.
- ‘Lady Fingers’ boasts leaves so deeply cut they will remind you of green fingers.
- ‘Tricolor’ is the unexpected variegated type; green, cream, pink in a red-violet hue.
Sweet potato vine is an inexpensive plant that will spill and fill in a garden, eventually pushing out other plants. With adequate water, sweet potato vine will thrive during hot summers where other plants may fade or fail. You will need only a couple of sweet potato vines to fill in a rectangular planter.
Recipe for Plant Combination Planter from Midwest to Southwest
The thriller-spiller-filler recipe for planning a mixed plant combination in containers is a well-used technique. This regime will give you a design of high impact, an eventual filled-in look, and vegetation streaming over the edge of the planter.
A plant combination of geranium, purple heart, and sweet potato vine will thrive in a range of regions, from the East Coast through the Midwest to the Southwest, when warm but moderate temperatures are prevalent.
Geranium plants are an annual except where it is grown in zone 10 – 11, or where winters are mild. Purple heart will live outdoors in areas of the Southwest all year, but in the Midwest and East Coast in winter, it prefers being a fine houseplant. The sweet potato vine will thrive outdoors all summer, but, like geraniums, is a heavy feeder, which needs water and fertilizer to look pretty.
Colorful Plant Combinations: Easy and Attractive
The geranium, purple heart, and sweet potato planter is a colorful plant combination that is easy to put together, without adding stress to your pocketbook.