GARDENS are really about colour. Shades of red, orange and yellow usually catch the eye the fastest.
You can master the art of using colour in the garden by simply picking out the right flowering plants.
There are some flowers that will naturally change colour as they mature, and there are also a few species that change colour twice or more in one day.
Colour-changing flowers can produce a beautiful display and you don’t have to spend too much money getting a variety of plants to brighten up your garden.
While there are not that many flowering plants in Malaysia that change colour as they mature, the following will be a great addition to any plant collection.
Hydrangeas are popular ornamental plants, grown for their large flowerheads. They are the only flowers that react with changes in soil conditions.
The flowers of big leaf hydrangeas are blue in very acidic soil and pink in slightly acidic soil. You can change the flower’s colour by changing the soil to be more acidic or alkaline.
Hydrangeas will appear blue in soil that is naturally highly acidic (ideal pH level is 5.0 to 5.5). Add sulfur, aluminium sulfate, acidic peat, or acid-forming fertilisers like ammonium sulfate to increase the acidity of the soil.
If you want pink hydrangeas, the soil needs to be more alkaline (ideal pH level is 6.5 to 7.0). Adding limestone into the soil can increase the alkaline level.
You can plant blue and pink hydrangeas together, creating a beautiful and bountiful garden. Hydrangeas love the warm morning sun but dislike the afternoon heat, so make sure you plant them in the right place. The best place would be in a sheltered location with sunny mornings and shady afternoons.
Whatever you do, avoid planting them directly underneath trees.
Most morning glory flowers unravel into full bloom in the early morning. The flowers are pink when they initially unfold and then turn blue.
It is not difficult to plant morning glories. They prefer full solar exposure throughout the day and mesic soils. But they can quickly spread by way of long, creeping stems.
Morning glories also produce seeds, so the plants will multiply easily. Because of this fast growth, twining habit, attractive flowers and tolerance for poor, dry soils, they make excellent vines for creating shade.
Hibiscus mutabilis is an interesting plant and a small pot alone can cost more than RM100. The interesting feature about hibiscus mutabilis is the colour change. From the same plant you will get the flowers in nine to 10 different colours — from white in the morning, pink around noon to deep red by evening.
What is more enchanting is that these cycles happen on different parts of the large bush simultaneously, so that the plant appears to feature multi-coloured blooms.
The flowers are large and showy, between 10 and 15 cm in diametre, making them attractive and visible from a distance.
Hibiscus mutabilis adapts well to most soil conditions, but adding a layer of compost into the soil will help improve its nutrition and texture. You need to check the soil regularly in the first few months after planting. Young shrubs need consistently moist soil during their first growing season and water about every two weeks as the confederate rose matures.