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Ground covers, Perennials

Species of this genus produce clusters of tiny flowers with a sweet, delicate fragrance. Foliage is handsome. Provide well-drained soil.

Heliotropium anomalum argenteum

Native Hawaiian coastal ground cover. Rosettes of succulent gray-green to silvery leaves form a mat 3 in. to 1 ft. high; in winter and spring, clusters of white flowers are held well above the foliage. Set out plants 6–8 in. apart. Both blossoms and leaf rosettes are used in leis. Thrives in coastal gardens with wind and saturating salt spray. Tolerates drought but does better with regular moisture. Full sun.

Heliotropium arborescens

From Peru. This old-fashioned favorite grows to 4 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide in the mild-winter zones where it is a perennial, but it’s typically treated in all regions as a summer bedding annual to 1 1/2 to 2 ft. high, 1 to 1 1/2 ft. wide. Dark violet, purple, blue, or white blossoms are densely set in curved, one-sided spikes that form rounded, 3 to 4-in. clusters. They have a scent reminiscent of vanilla. Veined leaves have a darkish purple cast.

‘Black Beauty’ and ‘Iowa’ are varieties with deep purple flowers; there are also dwarf forms under 1 ft. high.

All are good in pots (in cold climates, overwinter them in a frost-free spot). They can take full sun in cooler climates but need partial shade in warmer ones.

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