Mad For Orange

Though the annual planting at the shop this year was inspired by a client’s planting of Orange Punch cannas, I owe part of my infatuation with orange this year to Margaret Roach.  She published a picture of this potunia “Papaya” on her blog- ; it did indeed look delicious. I knew if anyone was growing it, Telly’s would.  George sent me up to his growing farm for 8 cases of 4″ plants.  This petunia is planted along the shop driveway, along with Freckles coleus, lime licorice, and red violet petunias.    

An all out, all orange annual garden seemed like it might be difficult to achieve, since the color orange in plants varies so widely.  One small strip of Sonic orange New Guinea impatiens at home is as loud as a brass band.  I decided a mix of all of those colors that look great with orange would be better.  Yellow, lime, and red violet seemed like a more visually interesting way to go.  The rain has been tough on the petunias.  I quickly realized that the petunia “Terra Cotta” is not the performer that other petunias are.  One of the best reasons to have a mix of plants-the weather.  One never knows what a season will be, but for sure some things will do poorly, and others will do well.    

The red pigment in this banana leaf reads orangy-brown to my eye.  I have never grown “Siam Ruby” before.  I have it placed at a sunny corner of the shop building; this is a very sunny and very hot spot.  There is plenty of room, should it grow large and tall.      

I have underplanted it with that Sonic Scarlet New Guinea impatiens, which is as orange as orange can be.  I think they will appreciate a little shade from the banana leaves-we’ll see.

This rhizomatous begonia is called “Madame Queen”; it is perfectly named.  The large crested olive green leaves are a fiery red/orange on the obverse.  I underplanted it with Ruby Red spikemoss, or clubmoss- a red foliaged selaginella.  The combination is one of my favorites in my series of containers featuring orange. 

The Bullseye series of seed geraniums is a great performer for containers and window boxes-I have better luck growing these than I do with zonal geraniums.  The tricolor geranium right next to it is just as easy to grow.  Sometimes known as Skies of Italy, the variegated leaves of green, orange brown and cream yellow look great with lots of other plants.  The orange flowers are not so showy, but they are obligingly bright orange.   

I have had plenty to say about the Solenia series of begonias.  They are tolerant of lots of sun, and relatively easy to care for.  I just make sure to be sure they are in need of water before I add some.  When I do kill them, it is almost always from rot.  Their thick juicy stems are very watery-I wait until the soil seems tgo be just about dried out before I water.      

My annual garden is well on its way-a little dry warm and sunny weather will help bring on the orange.  The freshly trimmed boxwood and arborvitae provide some cooly elegant structure for what will soon become riotous color.  This is a substantial change from last year’s green and white scheme-this I like.  For those of you who would rather visit an Orange Punch garden than have one, we will be ready for company in short order.


  1. I am obsessed with orange in my garden. In burgundy containers, orange is so gorgeous. Have you tried TropicCannas? The foliage has red/orange stripes! I also have a red dwarf banana tree, reddish aeniums, fuchsias, red/pink festival grass, new zealand flax, orange wallflowers, rooster red carex, and lots of terra cotta calibrachoa.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Kim, I have tried tropicana cannas-but not aeniums or festival grass. Those I will have to look in to. Million bells never do well for me-what is your secret? Deborah

  2. How is everything doing? My potunia Papaya (poor thing!) is like a drowned water rat these last weeks, with deluges almost daily that leave it like a wet rag (or many wet rages). Not nice. I wish it were sturdier, or that rain came in gentle form, not pounding madness.

    • Deborah Silver says

      I am beginning to see rot and fungus from all the rain-although we have had a few dry days lately. My purple potunias hate the rain even worse than Papaya. I have my fingers crossed for drier weather-I’ll send some of that vibe your way.

  3. Settima Lah says

    Fell in love with begonias this spring and started a garden; some rex, wings, & of course that magnificent Madame Queen. Failed terribly with the bulbs and then discovered Solenia begonias. That’s how I came upon your site. Searched the web for days looking to buy some plants with no success. I hope you don’t mind if I ask for your help. Would you know of a nursery, retailer where I can buy some Solenia? I would so much appreciate your help. Thank you.

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