In the landscape or indoors, evergreens provide color that defies the barrenness of winter. They don't shed their foliage the way deciduous plants do, though many do have periods of dormancy. Others, though, don't need such rests, showing that if the weather is mild enough. Within the USDA hardiness zones that include Florida, Hawaii and parts of Texas, for instance, blooming evergreens can put out flowers year-round.
Though Turk's cap is an evergreen that produces flowers throughout the year, it never actually fully blooms. The flowers stay furled, the bright red petals looking much like those of hibiscus, to which the plant is related. Turk's cap is also called Scotch purse, sleeping hibiscus and malvaviscus. Under any name, the plant can grow up to 10 feet high, but varieties that reach about 2 feet high can be grown indoors for regions north of the USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11.
Besides providing interest in the garden with its color and strange blooming habit, Turk's cap isn't fussy. Moist (not wet) soil and at least 4 hours of daily sunlight gets you a happy plant that is pest-free. If you live outside a warm area that can enjoy the plant's flowers all year, know that winter frost will kill the vegetation of Turk's cap. The plant will come back with spring and summer's warm weather. Propagate by stem cuttings. Turk's cap grows quickly.
Impatiens find wide use as bedding plants, in outdoor planters and in pots. The color palette of the flower is wide and includes white, pink, red, yellow and orange. The plants droop when they need water and recover quickly once you respond, making it easy to keep up with their water needs. Indeed, the plants are very easy to care for in general. In the hottest zones, impatiens should be given shade.
In the northern climes, as winter approaches, the plants can be dug up and potted to be taken indoors, where they will continue to bloom. They can also be left in the ground to be treated like annuals, allowing the plants to die off, then replanting new impatiens the next growing season. If you decide to bring impatiens indoors for the winter, give them a lot of artificial light--about 14 to 16 hours daily--fertilize twice a month and keep the soil moist. Propagation is by seed or stem cuttings. One of the impatiens' alternate names is Touch-me-not because, when the plants produce seedpods, seeds can sometimes burst out when the plant is touched.
The African violet boasts thousands of varieties with flowers that range from deep, rich purple to white to variegated. The plant doesn't like direct light, but does want bright light. Being set back from sunny windows can fit the plant's needs. If bright light is not available, the flowers will bloom year-round in artificial indoor light and also in the kind of filtered light provided by sheer curtains.
Special potting soils exist for African violets; if you can't find the formulation, use equal parts potting soil and sand, plus two parts of something to help retain moisture. Coir (coconut fibers) will do. African violet soil needs to be light, resisting compacting. The plant can be propagated from leaf cuttings.