How to plant yourself a Bengals Who Dey garden

·3 min read

Our city is certainly filled with sports fans who are very loyal to local teams. There has been a lot of excitement with the Cincinnati Bengals making it into the playoffs this season. Everyone is wearing orange and black. Orange and black are everywhere. After the season ends and we get back into the growing season, some of you may want to celebrate the great football season with a Bengals Who Dey garden.

As I think about this concept, I realize there are many choices for plants with orange flowers. There are shrubs, perennials and annuals with orange flowers. When it comes to the black, we are very limited.

There really are only a few plants with foliage that can be described as black. There are quite a few with deep purple foliage that is close to black. I did some research to find out why plants with black foliage are so rare. I was unable to find a definitive answer, but the general theory is black leaves would attract too much light for the plants to handle and survive. Plants with green leaves attract the right type of light as well as the right amount.

Now for our Bengals garden, we have to consider the timing. Football season begins at the end of the summer. As we are thankfully experiencing this year, it can last into the middle of the winter. Football fans will want their Bengals garden to be looking good in the fall. The fall timing should make things a bit easier. Growers are already on board with orange flowers as they are very popular for fall in general.

Orange mums are available everywhere in the fall. They can be planted with dark purple ornamental millets. Pansies come in flats with both orange and black flowers. This concept was developed for Halloween, but in Cincinnati, they can easily be “Bengal pansies."

Orangish-yellow ‘Caramel’ coral bells suffuse beds with a warm glow. Courtesy photo
Orangish-yellow ‘Caramel’ coral bells suffuse beds with a warm glow. Courtesy photo

If you are truly a devoted fan that bleeds orange and black, you might want a Bengals garden to be proud of through the growing season. I have some perennial suggestions for you. There is a variety of coral bell named Caramel that has foliage that would pass for orange. They can be combined with another variety of coral bell named Black Pearl. Coral bells are great plants that are easy to grow.

Here are a few more choices for perennials with dark purple or black foliage. Dark Towers penstemon would be a good choice. There are a couple of sedums: Night Embers and Dark Magic. For a true black, you can use black mondo grass.

They can be combined with other perennials that produce orange flowers. There are orange echinacea, coreopsis, daylilies, gaillardia and others. The downside to these is they have limited blooming times, mostly in the summer.

The Zahara zinnia is a lower-growing border plant.
The Zahara zinnia is a lower-growing border plant.

For the orange to combine with the dark foliage perennials, I would suggest using annuals. My first choice would be orange SunPatiens. They will have bright orange blooms that will last well into the football season before the first frost. You could also use marigolds or orange zinnias

Now there is one plant that would be perfect for the biggest Bengals fan who is also a gardener. There is a canna called Bengal Tiger. These cannas have large leaves with yellow stripes and produce a tall stalk with an orange flower. They will not survive the winter in our climate. They grow from rhizomes, which can be taken out of the ground and stored for the winter. Then they can be replanted the following spring.

If you are suspected to be a crazy Bengals fan by your neighbors, you can validate their suspicions by planting a Bengals garden next summer.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Orange and black blooms: How to plant a Bengals Who Dey garden

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