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Break away from the same old marigolds and petunias -- try these uncommon annuals his year. All should be available at better nurseries and garden centers.

Setcresea pallida (purple hearts). Grown for foliage so purple it’s startling! This is a trailing plant, resembling the familiar wandering Jew. Small, pink flowers are a secondary characteristic. Combines well with silver foliage (dusty millers) and lavender flowers (verbena). Grow in full sun.

Scaevola. Another trailer, featuring fan-shaped, lavender-blue flowers. This has gotten much easier to find in recent years. Delicate and perfect to trail over the edge of pots. Try mixing it with bright pink petunias or red geraniums. Takes a half to full day of sun.

Helichrysum petiolaris (licorice plant). A spreading, trailing sub-shrub with furry silver leaves resembling tiny lamb’s ears. Use it in nearly any container planting -- it will weave in and out of its companions at will.

Pentas. A relentless bloomer when kept deadheaded; butterflies love it. An upright grower, it reaches a foot or so when grown in a container. The large flowerheads are actually made up of many star-shaped florets. Comes in white, lavender, pink and red. Tolerates some shade.

Ipomoea batatas ‘Blackie’ (black sweet potato vine). Grown for its large, deep burgundy foliage. Perfect for providing contrast against green foliage in containers. Use it to show off light colored flowers -- pale pinks, lavenders and blues.

Banana trees. Available with green or reddish foliage, these little trees will grow to two or three feet in a season and look great in a container. Pot up several and bring a tropical look to your patio! For even more color, use a container large enough to accommodate a planting of verbena or trailing lantana at its base.

‘Wizard’ coleus. This large leaved, mainly upright coleus has shocking chartreuse foliage! In a container garden, it’s a natural with bright golden flowers.

Trailing red coleus. A small leaved gem, its burgundy-wine colored foliage is exquisite weeping over the edge of its pot. Combines easily with scarlet flowers or those in the lavender to purple range.

Strobelanthus. This plant is a must-see and a conversation piece. Its leaves are vivid purple with metallic silver variegation. Perfect to combine with Helichrysum and other grey or silver leaved plants.

Oxalis. Resembles a larger, more ornamental version of clover. A burgundy-purple leaved version is available, as is a green-leaved variety. Both have pink flowers.