Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Chocolate Plants-Who Knew?

Chocolate cosmos- the flowers really smell like chocolate!
Day 28
The Daily DuBrule

Did you get chocolate for Valentine's Day? How about chocolate plants? What?!? I am talking about plants that either smell like chocolate or have flowers or leaves that are the color of chocolate or have chocolate in their variety name. I am not the only one to think about this concept. 

Check out this link:  

The Chocolate Flower Farm on the west coast is a nursery devoted entirely to this concept! Think about it. Among some of the plants that they carry that I also sell are 'Hot Cocoa' rose, Eupatorium rugosum 'Chocolate', Lysimachia congestiflora 'Persian Chocolate', and Rodgersia pinnata 'Chocolate Wing'. In the spirit of this idea, I also thought about Heuchera 'Mocha' and the many "chocolate" bell peppers we sell as seedlings in May. What a fun idea to ponder!

A few years ago I visited Wave Hill in New York. I was completely enchanted by one of the gardens that featured plants with burgundy flowers and foliage. I spotted a burgundy leaf variety of one of my favorite summer trees, mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) and I was in love. The delicate foliage of mimosa trees wiggles in the breeze. They fold up at dusk, making it even more of an action plant. The pink puffy flowers start appearing in July and last until the end of summer. Hummingbirds love them. This plant has an annoying tendency to self sow, which means many people won't plant it. That doesn't bother me, I can deal with that in a few different ways. Because it grows quickly, and blooms on current year's wood, it is a bit brittle and my green leaf form sustained a lot of damage in the Halloween blizzard of 2011. Not to worry. A good hard cutback will do this plant good.
Albizia 'Summer Chocolate' growing at Wave Hill

Look at what these chocolate foliage plants do for the garden!
My other favorite chocolate plant is chocolate cosmos. Classified as an annual, I was surprised the first year that I grew it when, late in the fall, I knocked it out of its pot, destined for the compost pile, only to find a swollen tuberous root. It turns out this could be saved in the basement over the winter. Unlike other, taller, more vigorous cosmos, this is a rather slow growing plant. I use it a lot in containers, placing with other annuals that aren't too vigorous and don't need insane amounts of water. I like to place it near a seating area and then tell people to smell the flowers. They never believe me and then exclaim in surprise when they realize I wasn't kidding, it does smell like chocolate!

1 comment:

  1. I ordered a few chocolate cosmos this year... I couldn't resist. I also ordered Sedum 'Chocolate Ball' - a dark leaved creeping sedum. I'm seeing it's hardiness varying widely depending where I look, but figured I'd give it a chance. (It's very strange - saw it reported to be anywhere from zone 3-9 hardy, to zone 7-10. I figure most of them are pretty hardy, though, worth the risk.)