February 2018

Fashionable plants goal of Hort Couture brand

(C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

One of the joys of being a garden writer is trying new plants.

One brand, Hort Couture, markets color and plant combinations as ‘kits,’ providing the perfect solution for pots, window boxes and other containers.

For instance, Hort Couture sent ‘Black Jack’ coleus (Solenostemon) paired with Paper Doll Top Model fanflower (Scaevola). The deep blue fanflower popped against the dark purple leaves of ‘Black Jack.’

A second eye-catching combo is ‘Smallwood Driveway’ coleus, Diva Red Diascia and Flare Gold Elf Bidens.

The coleuses are the newer late-blooming varieties and they have done great…maybe a little too great because they quickly dwarfed the slower-growing fanflower and bidens. Unfortunately, the diascia did not survive because of all the plants in the mixes, it is the most sensitive to hot weather. I swapped it out with a reddish million bells (Callibrachoa), which has done well.

Certainly the labels are an attractive component of the marketing plan. They suit the word play on haute couture in that they are high fashion statements in themselves. Each one has a shapely female figure in a dress printed with the plant described on the label.

Locally, Hort Couture plants can be found at Allisonville Nursery in Fishers, Ind., and the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and at several other independent garden centers in the state. Check the Web site ( for a list of retailers.

Simply Beautiful (, a widely available brand from Ball Horticulture also sends combination samples.

Deep Orange Bonanza marigold and Serena Blue angelonia from Ball Horticulture. (C) Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp

This year, my favorite is Angelonia Serena Blue paired with Bonanza Deep Orange marigold (Tagetes). It’s been several years since I’ve grown marigolds and these have held up extremely well during the hot dry summer. They were not attacked by spider mites, a common plague on marigolds and they’ve bloomed steadily despite very little dead heading.

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