Leucothoe Fontanesiana ‘Rainbow’
This unusual member of the Ericaceae family is a useful plant to use, in its youth, as a plant for the patio; mature specimens can exceed 1.5m (5ft) tall, and even with the limitation to growth which container culture places upon a plant, Leucothoe fontanesiana ‘Rainbow’ gradually becomes too large for even the biggest of tubs. All the Ericaceae need lime-free growing conditions, and container culture may be the only way to grow this pretty, evergreen plant. L. f. ‘Rainbow’ has lance-shaped, glossy and almost leathery leaves, the ends of the leaves being sharply pointed and toothed along the leaf margins. In mid Spring, tiny racemes of urn-shaped, white flowers appear, but the plant is grown mainly for its rich foliage effect. L. f. ‘Rainbow’ has attractive leaves which turn through pink, yellow and cream as they age; these rich hues become more purple as Winter’s cold takes effect.
Leucothoe fontanesiana ‘Rainbow’ is fully frost-hardy; plants in containers are more prone to frost damage, so use as large a container as possible.
Grow this plant in shade or light shade; the leaf colour will be best if the receives good, but indirect light.
Water this plant enough to keep themoist at all times; in cold weather, try to keep the compost a little drier to prevent the rootball from freezing. Always use lime-free water.
The watering regime will ensure that the air around the plant is sufficiently moist; L. f ‘Rainbow’ need not be provided with any additional humidity.
Feed this ericaceous plant with a suitable ericaceous plant food every month during the growing season; if necessary, use iron sequestrene in Spring to combat iron-induced chlorosis from using hard water.
Grow this plant in a peat-based compost. As such a compost dries out very quickly, and Leucothoe fontanesiana ‘Rainbow’ needs moisture at the roots at all times. Mix your own blend of compost comprising 50% garden peat and 50% lime-free, loam-based compost.
If the water that you use to water the plants is taken from the mains supply, you may have to employ a product containing iron sequestrene, which will ensure that lime-induced chlorosis is not a problem. This deficiency turns the leaves yellow and is a problem that occurs where hard water is used.