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Create a Beautiful Shade Container Garden

Although they look delicate, these three plants have proven to be summertime workhorses, as long as they stay out of the afternoon sun. The biggest stress factor will be wind; the Hawaiian ti plant gets quite tattered looking if placed in a very windy location. And even if the plants are underwatered, you will watch with amazement at how they rebound with several days of consistent watering. Give the wishbone flowers and impatiens a light pruning if they've been stressed and they'll grow back profusely.

To plant, pour the container mix potting soil into a large planter, making sure you leave room for the ti plant's rootball. Position the ti plant in the middle of the planter, add more potting mix loosely around the rootball, and plant the impatiens and wishbone flowers according to the diagram.

A large container may look a little sparse at first, but both the impatiens and wishbone flowers will grow rapidly to fill in the empty spaces. The impatiens also benefit from a gentle pinching of 1 or 2 in. off the top of the plants to encourage them to bush out more. This pinching can be done at planting and then about 45 days later. 'Butterfly Deep Pink' has a smaller flower than many impatiens but redeems itself with an abundance of smaller flowers that cover the planting.

If you live in an areas with a short growing season or if you prefer instant gratification in your container, use 6 in. or 1 gal. sized wishbone flowers and impatiens plants, but use fewer of each: use five wishbone flowers and four impatiens.

The more morning sun this container planting receives, the more water it needs for the plants to remain healthy. While quite content with dappled shade or a couple of hours of early-morning sun, this container tolerates sun up until noon except in very hot climates. Keeping the soil evenly moist is the key to success for impatiens, wishbone flowers and this variety of the ti plant.

The Hawaiian ti plant 'Black Magic' is sometimes used as an indoor plant. After removing the summer annuals, you can replant it in a smaller planter that can be placed in abright area of your home. Keep the planter away from drafts and from heater vents, which have a drying effect. Then replant again the following summer for outside pleasure.

Plant Options

You can create a bolder look simply by using 'Dragonwing™ Red' begonia instead of the impatiens. You can also create a more dramatic look by switching out the Hawaiian ti plant with Alocasia infernalis 'Kapit' or Colocasia 'Black Magic'.

TSC Shade Container Garden Supplies:

  • Container mix potting soil
  • 1 3 gal. sized Hawaiian ti plant (Cordyline fruticosa 'Black Magic') A
  • 9 wishbone flowers (Torenia 'Golden Moon') B
  • 8 impatiens (Impatiens hybrid 'Butterfly Deep Pink') C