Lime-green foliage combined with violet flowers is a stunning partnership; put them on a plant that is as tough-as-nails, and you have a real winner. Such is the look of the relatively new Mexican heather called Limelight.
Limelight offers the same rugged durability that everyone comes to expect with Mexican heather, except this time the foliage is blazing -- or should I say shocking chartreuse that can be seen from 50 yards away. Mexican heather has always been enjoyable close-up, but the foliage offers a unique twist. Limelight gives the gardener or landscaper the opportunity to use the plant like they might would do with a lime-green Joseph's coat. You can use them along the front of the border to a tropical-style garden or a traditional flower border. Place them in front of tall bananas or combine them with the equally colorful coleus. You can create a large informal drift or plant a small cluster knowing full well the lime-green foliage will draw the eye.
The Mexican heather's violet flowers have always been attractive but not all that showy. With Limelight, the violet seems more pronounced against the backdrop of chartreuse versus the typical dark green.
They will bloom all season long and usually return faithfully in the spring in Zone 8 and higher zones.
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Though it might not be a butterfly magnet, it does seem to always have the cheerfully colored yellow sulphurs feeding on its nectar. The Limelight performs best in fertile, well-drained soil. Tight compacted clay simply does not do the plant justice. Improve your soil by incorporating 3 to 4 inches of organic matter like peat, compost or humus, tilling or shoveling to a depth of around 8 inches.
They bloom best, and the foliage is more riotous in color, if they are given plenty of sunlight. Plant them at the same depth that they are growing in the container, spacing plants 8 to 12 inches apart, depending on how dense or full of an effect you desire. They will spread somewhat. Once established, this is a relatively maintenance-free plant. Give it a little supplemental water during prolonged dry periods. If the plants ever develop a lanky look, which, I might add, is not the norm, they do respond well to pruning, giving them a bushier shape.
Lime green is still one of the trendiest colors in the garden. In addition to Limelight, look also for Riverdene Gold. Depending on the region of the country, you may find this one easier to obtain.
Norman Winter is author of "Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South" and "Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden."