Pots of style: Aeoniums

Gardener Jacky Mills combines aeoniums and daisies for a sophisticated container planting. 

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I’m fond of aeoniums, particularly these intensely dark rosettes held aloft on quirky stems. The colours blend together with the muted tones of the metal urn, the white daisies ageing to a soft pink as their green centres fade to yellow. They also complement the magenta buds of the night phlox, whose white-notched flowers are closed during the hottest part of the day. They will open in the evening, exuding a heady vanilla and honey fragrance to attract moths.

How to achieve the look

 

Container This well-proportioned, late 19th-century, cast iron urn was a great find at a local flea market. The long, fluted main body, with its lovely rusty patination is quite narrow, so won’t accommodate plants with large rootballs.

Cultivation and care Aeoniums are perfect specimen plants in containers and happily mix with other species that require sun and well-drained conditions. Tall plants can be vulnerable in high winds, so take cuttings when they get too leggy. Cut the stem with a sharp knife and leave the ends to dry up before potting on in gritty compost. Prevent the mahogany whorls of A. ‘Zwartkop’ reverting to green in winter by supplying good light levels away from frost and reduce watering. The species A. arboreum produces compact green rosettes on branching stems that I’ve previously teamed up with white Diascia or the white Euphorbia hypericifolia Diamond Frost (= ‘Inneuphe’). Erigeron karvinskianus self seeds easily and is lovely springing up among paving. Seed can be sown directly on to compost indoors from early February or outside from April to July. The night phlox is a South African native, requiring full sun and sharply drained soil. Cut back hard after flowering to encourage repeat blooms. The annual form, Zaluzianskya capensis ‘Midnight Candy’, can be sown in spring. There’s also a perennial species Z. ovata.

 

 

Plants 

1 Erigeron karvinskianus A low-growing, mat-forming, hardy perennial with daisy-like white flowers darkening to pink with age. A prolific self seeder. 30cm. AGM. June – October.

2 Zaluzianskya capensis ‘Midnight Candy’ This hardy annual has maroon-backed, white-lobed petals that open in the evening. Highly scented with aromatic foliage. 25-30cm. June – August.

3 Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’ An evergreen, subtropical succulent with multiple waxy rosettes borne on a basal stem. It produces racemes of star-shaped, yellow flowers in spring. 1m. AGM. Year-round interest.

 

 

 

This article was taken from a longer feature in the July 2016 issue (236) of Gardens Illustrated. For all stockist information, click here

Photography by Andrew Montgomery

 

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