Name: Strobilanthes dyerianus aka Persian shield
Type of Plant: An annual for brilliant foliage color in most of the country, although hardy if you live in a zone 10 or 11.
Why I love this: Persian Shield is a plant with iridescent, purple foliage. Native to Burma, where the plant is a shrub or sub-shrub (doesn’t that sound like a shrub-wannabe?) this plant does flower but it’s grown in annual gardens and containers for the brilliantly colored leaves. Persian Shield is an invaluable ingredient in a mixed container or in the garden, and you can pair it with just about any other color flowering plant.
A Word to the Wise: When purchased in the spring these plants will commonly grow to about 18” or two feet tall. Unless you want the plant to be tall and thin pinch the tips off of all branches when the plant is about 6 to 8” tall, and do so again about three or four weeks later. This will promote bushy growth which means more stems of vividly colored leaves.
Strobilanthes tolerates wet soils but not drought, so don’t pair this with plants that like to go dry. It’s easy to take cuttings of Persian shield and save it from year to year, but it can be prone to whitefly and other indoor pests so keep your eyes open so you can catch any problems early.