Fun foundation plants for Foliage Follow-Up

Potted plants add pop

In the hubbub of the upcoming holiday I nearly forgot to post for Foliage Follow-Up. But recently I’ve had some fun adding colorful potted plants to my entry garden, and since I chose them for their shape and color, not blooms, here they are.

I’ve had this tall, green pot for a while, previously planted with a ‘Red Star’ cordyline. But the cordyline was looking ratty, and one day I saw this handsome ‘Sticks on Fire’ euphorbia for sale at The Great Outdoors, so I snapped it up, dug out some soil in the green pot, and popped in the potted euphorbia. It sits deep enough so that its plastic nursery pot doesn’t show. I’ll have to lift it out and take it inside when a freeze is forecast, but those are few and far between in a typical Austin winter.

Also, I’ve decided you can’t go wrong with a ‘Color Guard’ yucca, so I added another one in a smaller, dark-gray pot in front of the green container, and wow, does it pop against that emerald background! Blue-gray Mexican beach pebbles make a pretty mulch, and the yucca, being cold-hardy, needs no winter protection.

In the background, an evergreen ‘Alphonse Karr’ bamboo softens the corner and adds a vertical accent between the garage and the house.


A wider shot: this is my new foundation planting, a gravel garden to the left of the front door. From left to right along the foundation: bamboo muhly (Muhlenbergia dumosa), frost-bitten Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha), toothless sotol (Dasylirion longissimum) in the pipe planter, and Agave gentryi ‘Jaws’ in the circular planter. Bold, architectural, and, except for the salvia, evergreen—it makes me happy.


A closer look at the always wonderful ‘Color Guard’ yucca. ‘Color Guard’ is hardy to zone 4, and the deer leave it alone in my garden.


More traditional, and happy in the cool shade of live oaks on the north side of the house, this Japanese maple (a species Acer palmatum) is putting on its usual fall show at Christmastime. Its colors are more subdued this year, but I like how the new dry stream and fringe of transplanted river fern (Thelypteris kunthii) at its feet set it off.

Join me in posting about your lovely leaves of December for Foliage Follow-Up, a way to remind ourselves of the importance of foliage in the garden on the day after Bloom Day. Leave your link to your Foliage Follow-Up post in a comment. I really appreciate it if you’ll also include a link to this post in your own post (sharing link love!). If you can’t post so soon after Bloom Day, no worries. Just leave your link when you get to it.

All material © 2006-2012 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

17 Responses

  1. dropping a plastic nursery pot in a tall and elegant planter sounds like a great idea. Do you do that trick of using empty 2 litre plastic bottles to fill some of the bottom space in lieu of unneeded soil depth. How deep does the soil need to be in a tall pot?

    I think soil depth depends on what you’re planting. A deep-rooting plant, like a tree or shrub, will need more soil than a shallow-rooting perennial or annual. When in doubt, add more soil. I like to make my pots heavy, especially those out front, so that they couldn’t as easily be stolen, so I fill the bottom with rocks, cement blocks, or whatever I have on hand. —Pam

  2. Chris F says:

    Yes, I’d be interested in knowing what you use as “ballast” in the bottom of tall pots. I’d like to use a few and could use some ideas to keep them “stable” but not too heavy.

    Hi, Chris. See my answer to the comment above. —Pam

  3. jenny says:

    Love the new additions especially the sticks of fire. I brought mine in the house and it promptly lost its color. And how long have I been saying I need the color guard. Next year for sure.

    The Sticks on Fire is definitely more colorful in cold weather or when drought-stressed. —Pam

  4. Alison says:

    I have a small Sticks-on-Fire that I brought in for the winter. I would love for it to live long enough to get as big as yours, it’s gorgeous, and so unusual. It’s in with a bunch of other succulents, but I really should put it on its own, and give it plenty of room, I think. Love all the filaments on your Color Guard Yucca too.

    I bought this ‘Sticks on Fire’ at this size, so I can’t take any credit for getting it to this point. But it is a lovely and unusual looking plant, and fun to grow. —Pam

  5. Nicole says:

    I have a sticks of fire in my rock garden, it stays green as never get cold enough for the change in color but its lovely anyway. Love the Japanese maple, of course I could never grow that. My variegated yuccas died, will have to try them again. I am growing my crotons with hopes of featuring them in next months foliage follow up.

  6. Shirley says:

    Love that Sticks-on-fire and how your front gravel garden is looking fantastic now.

    I’m featuring the lowly “ball moss” Tillandsia today.

    http://rockoakdeer.blogspot.com/2012/12/tillandsia-for-foliage-follow-up.html

  7. Pam I love seeing the foliage of a garden that is so different than mine and those pots are gorgeous. Wish I could use large ceramic pots like these but of course I live in the NE…but I can dream. Here’s my link:

    http://gardenseyeview.com/2012/12/10/faint-memories-of-my-garden/

  8. Peter/Outlaw says:

    I am so in love with your combination of the Dasylirion in the tall pot and the Agave in the round planter. I could look at the combination of those two all day. Then add all the other groovy plants in the gravel bed – Amazing! Thanks for once again hosting the foliage party.

    And thanks for joining the party by stopping by, Peter! —Pam

  9. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Your entryway garden is looking more and more colorful with the new pots and plants. Ferns under the Acer is a great show. Happy FF.

  10. Good technique for temp. container “bling” (and nice bling that Euphorbia is!)…then you get to find a planting spot. Your front redux is filling in nicely, too. That maple looks good, but showing me that you’re having a hard time shaking fall or even late summer…I’ll send you some wintry 40′s, scented w/ a roaring pinon-etc. fire!

    My green and gloom post –
    http://desertedge.blogspot.com/2012/12/drying-up-foliage-follow-up-122012.html

    Fall always stretches into December here in Austin. The deciduous trees will be bare by Christmas Day (of course we’re mostly an evergreen town, with live oaks and junipers galore), and then the earliest ones will start leafing out again in February/March. Winter is short here. —Pam

  11. I can only dream of such architectural foliage as I live in a dreadful frost pocket. Your new gravel area looks superb and so contemporary.

    Here’s my Scottish Garden ‘foliage’ collection.

    http://www.leavesnbloom.com/2012/12/whats-in-bloom-in-november.html

  12. LOVE that Euphorbia! It seems like all the plants we see up here are spindly little things, never big bushy plants like that.

    I’m a day late with my Foliage Follow-up!
    http://dangergarden.blogspot.com/2012/12/foliage-follow-up-new-spikes.html

  13. louis says:

    Oh Pam, your agave is so beyond amazing! I LOVE love love IT! http://parallel49palms.blogspot.ca/2012/12/foliage-follow-up.html

  14. Hoov says:

    Late on the foliage, but got it done. :) Your Acer looks wonderful and the Sticks-On-Fire looks great in that pot.

    http://pieceofeden.blogspot.com/2012/12/some-december-foliage.html

    No rush, Hoov, no late date. Thanks for joining in! I can’t leave a comment on your post without an account, but here’s what I wanted to say: Yes, I see the similarity to Agave attenuata and certain iris foliage. Not as familiar with tulips here in Austin. Anyway, the leaves are a delightful color. I also love the pale yucca in the background — is it ‘Margaritaville’? —Pam

  15. Alison says:

    I almost wasn’t going to do a FF post. But we got snow, which always adds a little something extra to the pictures. Here’s my link:

    http://bonneylassie.blogspot.com/2012/12/foliage-follow-up-december-2012-dont.html

  16. Scott Weber says:

    Better late than never, right? I love that your Maple still has leaves on it!

    http://www.rhonestreetgardens.com/2012/12/pheasants-tails-for-foliage-follow-up.html

  17. ricki says:

    Your own garden is such a great advertisement for your services…simply stunning.
    Here’s the link to my belated post: http://bannersbyricki.com/archives/2716