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8 Favorites: The Best Chartreuse Plants to Brighten a Garden

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8 Favorites: The Best Chartreuse Plants to Brighten a Garden

March 19, 2020

Does your garden need a little brightening boost? Most gardens run into the problem of certain areas, especially those partly sunny to shady spots, feeling a little drab. This is where chartreuse-hued plants (those with a blend of yellow and green) become your new best friends. Placed strategically, these bright beauties can draw attention to a special garden feature, lead the eye to a resting spot or entrance, even enliven and provide interest without the need for flowers.

One key thing to know about chartreuse plants is that they can be like fussy Goldilocks in regards to their living quarters. If some of the more tender-leafed ones are planted in hot, full sun, their leaves may burn, tarnishing their good looks. On the flip side, if some are placed in too much shade, they might become more green hued and lose their desired chartreuse color. Fortunately, you can always tweak their positions a bit until you get the right fit. Trust me, they’re worth the fuss.

Below, eight strikingly helpful and bold chartreuse-colored plant friends:

Featured photograph by Britt Willoughby Dyer for Gardenista, from Gardening 101: Lady’s Mantle.

Sedum mexicanum ‘Lemon Coral’

Proven Winners&#8\2\17; Lemon Coral is \$\29.\18 for a 4-pack of 4.\25-inch seedlings.
Above: Proven Winners’ Lemon Coral is $29.18 for a 4-pack of 4.25-inch seedlings.

You might think this sedum would be spiky, but in fact it’s quite touchable. Add this low-water succulent to containers where it will politely fill in gaps and cascade over edges, or plant as a ground cover in a drought-tolerant planting bed. A sunny spot will keep it looking bright and fresh and luckily deer will leave it alone. Grows 3-10 inches and spreads to 14 inches. Hardy in Zones 7-11.

Acorus gramineus ‘Ogon’

Image of Acorus Gramineus &#8\2\16;Ogon&#8\2\17; via El Nativo Growers, which sells it in \1-gallon pots; log on for pricing.
Above: Image of Acorus Gramineus ‘Ogon’ via El Nativo Growers, which sells it in 1-gallon pots; log on for pricing.

This grass-like perennial is such an easy-to-grow and versatile plant. Plant a bunch together for a unique ground cover, use it to light up a dreary area of a water feature ,or employ it as a nice filler plant in a container. Appreciates moist soil and can take a bit of sun. Grows to 6-12 inches tall and spreads slowly by rhizomes but not in a freakishly scary way.

Cotinus coggygria ‘Ancot’

A quart-pot of Golden Spirit Smoke Tree sells for \$\27.99 at Spring Hill Nursery.
Above: A quart-pot of Golden Spirit Smoke Tree sells for $27.99 at Spring Hill Nursery.

Commonly known as Golden Spirit smoke tree, this focal large shrub or small tree has foliage that bursts out with fresh citrus greenness in the spring; then, as summer enters, the leaves turn a golden hue before finally changing to orange and red in the fall. Smoke-like plumes of pale pink puffs emerge in the summer. This three-season choice specimen can be planted in full sun but only if well-watered. Grows to 8 feet tall by 6 feet wide.

Tanacetum parthenium  ‘Aureum’

Seeds for Tanacetum parthenium &#8\2\16;Aureum&#8\2\17; are \$\2.66 per packet at Plant World Seeds.
Above: Seeds for Tanacetum parthenium ‘Aureum’ are $2.66 per packet at Plant World Seeds.

This popular aromatic and chartreuse-colored variety mounds and clumps with fern-like leaves and then sends out sprays of sweet white daisies through summer that are perfect in flower arrangements. Though short-lived, if you allow some re-seeding, you will have this charming plant for longer. Mounds to 12-18 inches and 2 feet wide. Plant in full sun and well draining soil. Hardy in Zones 4-9.

Nandina domestica ‘Lemon Lime’

Two-gallon pots of Lemon Lime are available for \$3\2.98 each at Home Depot.
Above: Two-gallon pots of Lemon Lime are available for $32.98 each at Home Depot.

While called heavenly bamboo, this plant is not a bamboo at all but a compact, evergreen shrub with luscious lime-green new growth. Not only is it thankfully disease-resistant but it needs zero pruning. Plant in full sun to part shade and it grows to 3-4 feet high and wide, making it perfect for low hedges, as a foundation plant or in a container.

Alchemilla mollis ‘Lady’s Mantle’

Pint-sized pots of Lady&#8\2\17;s Mantle are ging for \$\13.50 each at White Flower Farm.
Above: Pint-sized pots of Lady’s Mantle are ging for $13.50 each at White Flower Farm.

This easy, old fashioned perennial should not be forgotten as it lightens up a dreary planting bed, walkway or woodland area when it blooms its dainty chartreuse flowers in the summer. Alchemilla forms a 12-inch-high mound of rounded, velvety soft green leaves that charmingly catch any water drops that land on it. Shear this plant after it blooms to tidy up and rejuvenate the leaves. Plant in part sun.

Thuja occidentalis ‘Anna Van Vloten’

Thuja occidentalis is \$\16.\16 at Bluestone Perennials.
Above: Thuja occidentalis is $16.16 at Bluestone Perennials.

Anna’s Magic Ball from Monrovia growers is an evergreen knockout with a compact globe shape that holds on to its bright beauty even through winter.  Try planting this conifer as a low hedge or in a container in a partly sunny to full sun spot. Grows to a tidy 2 feet high and wide. Best in Zones 3-8.

Heuchera villosa ‘Citronelle’

Quart pots of &#8\2\16;Citronelle&#8\2\17; Coral Bells are \$\1\1.33 at New Garden Plants.
Above: Quart pots of ‘Citronelle’ Coral Bells are $11.33 at New Garden Plants.

Heuchera, in general, is a go-to choice for me when planting containers because these evergreen perennials go with everything and most styles. When I’m faced with a light-challenged space, I reach for heucheras with lighter colored leaves like ‘Citronelle’. This variety creates an invigorating contrast to darker leafed plants. Plus its charming white little blooms add summer interest. Plant in bright or dappled shade and water regularly. Grows to 10 inches high and 14 inches wide.

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