Back in June during the garden club event at Behnke's, I met Doug Bolt, a retired USDA scientist who researched animal reproduction. He told me about how he has used Streptocarpus 'Falling Stars' and Ludisia discolor (an orchid) as bedding plants. (Note: they are not hardy in the DC area, and do need to come indoors for the winter.) They had a rough time with the especially high temperatures this summer, but made it through ok. Here are a couple of photos from September:
You can see more photographs of Doug's yard here.
Like many gardeners and plant enthusiasts I meet, Doug has a history with his plants. He says he grew up on a farm in Kansas that produced wheat, beef and pork, and that his mother and her mother were avid gardeners who could -- and did -- grow just about anything that struck their fancy. Growing now in Doug's front yard is the red Chinese hibiscus from his grandmother's living room. In his backyard is the rose bush his father gave his mother when they moved to the farm in the 1930s, and near it is the miniature rose bush he gave his wife before they got married in 1975. He even has the first Phalaenopsis a friend gave him in 1969. He says his aversion to discarding plants is largely responsible for starting to use Streptocarpus and Ludisia discolor as accent/bedding plants in the garden. By spring when the houseplants go outside for the summer, many have overgrown their pots -- it seems obvious to just poke the extra divisions in the ground. And most do quite well.