You don't need flowers to form a lush, colorful planting. These pots contain only foliage plants, the palette of which has grown in recent years. Designing plantings like these couldn't be easier. Start with one showy plant as your focal point, then pair it with two or three others that have complementary or contrasting foliage colors and textures.
Lime green and burgundy leaves make a cool cocktail in a glazed, rimmed, 13-inch-wide pot. The heart-shaped leaves of imperial taro (Colocasia esculenta 'Illustris') arch over 'Gay's Delight' coleus (far left) and two kinds of sweet potato vine: Ipomoea batatas 'Blackie' (bottom left) and I. b. 'Marguerite' (bottom right). These plants thrive in partial shade; feed them regularly and keep the soil moist.
DESIGN: Bud Stuckey, Sunset test garden coordinator
Brandishing 1 1/2-foot-long leaves, Yucca flaccida 'Golden Sword' is paired with variegated Euonymus fortunei (front left) and heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica; rear) in a rectangular terra-cotta pot. Give these plants full sun; let the soil dry slightly between waterings.
DESIGN: Steven R. Lorton, Sunset Northwest bureau chief
Spots and splashes
Two kinds of croton (Codiaeum variegatum), one with broad, gold-veined leaves (top) and another with narrow, gold-spotted leaves (bottom), make a splashy foil for yellow-striped Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola') in a 16-inch-wide, Asian-style pot. Grow these plants in full sun on the coast, partial shade inland; feed them regularly and keep the soil moist.
DESIGN: Bud Stuckey