The Colors of Summer
For a nonstop display of bold color in your garden you can’t go wrong with cannas, caladiums, or curcuma. All three of these tropical beauties thrive in beds, borders, or containers and require very little attention to keep them happy through spring and summer. Here are some tips to get you started.
Perfect for sunny spots in your garden, cannas sport huge, colorful leaves topped with bright red, pink, yellow, salmon, orange, or bi-colored flowers. Cannas come in standard sizes that can grow 6 feet tall and dwarfs (which are best for containers) that grow just 3 to 4 feet high. Use taller varieties to screen a view or to provide back-up color in a flower border. Dwarfs work great along a garden path or in big tubs or planters.
I never tire of looking at the caladiums in my garden. These jewel-toned beauties produce wave after wave of gorgeous foliage that lights up the darkest corners of the landscape. Growing 15 to 24 inches tall, caladiums prefer a shady to semi-shady location (although there are some newer varieties that thrive in full sun) in rich, slightly moist soil. They thrive in beds and borders, but I think they perform a bit better when grown in pots and planters.
I have to admit that until recently I’d never even heard of curcuma. But once I was introduced to this easy-care tropical I was hooked. Each plant produces spikes of crown-like pink, purple, or white flowers atop pretty, slender foliage. Curcuma prefers full sun or partial shade and slightly moist soil. Curcuma grows about 18 to 24 inches tall and thrives in the ground or containers.
All three of these summer beauties are frost tender. That means they will die if left outside during a hard frost. If you live where winters get below freezing, bring your plants inside before the weather turns chilly and store then in a warm, dark place until spring. In frost-free regions caladium and curcuma may go dormant in the fall, but will pop back up after the weather warms. Cannas will generally keep growing through the winter.