The word picotee is of French origin. It means "having picots." Ah, but what is a picot? A picot is a tiny loop on the edge of lace, ribbon, or a knitted garment. An entire edge finished with picots becomes a lovely delicate accent all its own.
at right: Daylily 'Coming Alive', picture by virginiarose of Dave's Garden
Flowers don't have loops, but some have the DNA to develop a border of contrasting color along the edges of their petals. Entire families of flowers can show a tendency to this trait. Plant breeders maximize this potential by manipulating growing conditions, and selecting the best plants for further cultivation. Without further ado, here are picotee flowering plants for you to consider:
Daylily hybridization is incredibly easy, and there are thousands of gorgeous named cultivars. It's not surprising that picotees are among them. The contrasting edge of daylily picotees may be either darker or lighter than the main hue, and may come with a fine ruffle. Daylilies are summer bloomers, perennial to almost the whole of continental United States. They grow in sun or part shade, and are typically problem-free. Daylilies are sold as potted plants at many garden centers, and many more come mailorder direct from growers as dormant roots. See dozens of lovely picotees at Oakes Daylilies website, under the category "Bloom Patterns - Edge"
There are hundreds of Begonias with fancy leaves, and hundreds more grown for beautiful blooms. 'Picotee' Begonia is known for flowers delicately edged in contrasting color. 'Picotee' Begonia is a tuberous (x tuberhybrida) begonia and usually grown in pots for summer color on a shady deck. The bulbs are sold by many of the big plant mailorder companies. Plant the bulbs in spring, starting the pots indoors for earlier bloom. Move them into pots outside when nights are mild, or into shady gardens when the soil has warmed in spring. Other tuberous begonias have beautiful edge details, too. The orange flower at right here is 'Hannah', picture by kennedyh.Carnations and sweet williams
Carnations and sweet williams are kissing cousins belonging to the genus Dianthus. Of all garden flowers, they have some of the loveliest picotee edges. Carnations were the subject of one early important study of the genetics of picotee flowering. Dianthus plants are good for the front of the flower border, as they are on the shorter side of the range of plant height.
Sweet william is the most widely grow and commonly available Dianthus. It has one of the finest picotee edges of all. Sweet william (Dianthus barbatus) petals are dotted and sprinkled with color, and the petal edge even has a fringe, making it an almost literal interpretation of picotee. It is easy to grow from seed. Sweet william is classed as a biennial plant, but is often sold in blooming sixpacks, alongside marigolds and other annuals. Sweet william may reseed; if you adore the colorful picotees of sweet william, set aside a section of border just for them. Fill betweeen the volunteers and survivors with new plants every spring. Carnation, a favorite florist flower, is not as well known as a garden specimen. Carnation is a perennial for the sunny, but not hot, garden in zones 6 through 9. Give carnations a rich, slightly alkaline soil. At right, a white carnation with fine pink picotee, picture by Dave's Garden subscriber turektaylor.
Cosmos is an old favorite annual for sunny places. They're getting noticed again with the introduction of new cultivars like 'Picotee'. Cosmos are tall, airy plants topped with daisy-like flowers. They may be sold at the garden center with other annuals. Cosmos are easy to grow from seed, and that's the way to get special varieties like 'Picotee.' Swallowtail Garden Seeds offers 'Picotee' and the equally delightful 'Candy Stripe' cultivar. This is cosmos 'Picotee' grown and photographed by greenthumb99.
I can't say Hydrangeas make a huge contribution to the world of picotee flowers, but what they offer is sublime. Garden Crossings has several picotee choices in Hydrangea macrophylla, such as Edgy™ Orbits, Edgy™ Hearts, and Cityline™ Mars. Now, I have to give a shout out to lacecap hydrangeas. They count as a picotee effect in my mind, because the solid bud cluster is effectively edged by the single sterile fowers that appear around the rim. The overall effect is something of a macro-picotee (macrotee?) which is utterly charming. If that's not enough to bowl you over, check out 'Angel Lace'. Each sterile floret has petals with a white picotee edge and a bit of fringe. See 'Angel Lace' pictured at the end of the article.
Prarie gentain, Lisianthus, Texas bluebells, Eustoma grandiflorum; these are all names for one species now being hybridized in shades of blue, pink and white. Add a picotee to this rose-like flower and you have a breathtaking bloom. Lisianthus is a considered an annual for sunny gardens with rich, well drained but not acidic soil. It likes a moderately warm summer. Experienced gardeners may grow them from seed, otherwise look for plants. Use care when transplanting Lisianthus, as the tap root resents disturbance. The picture shows Lisianthus 'Double Mariachi Blue Picotee' by dawndoll2 of Dave's Garden.
There you have five options for adding a new beautiful picotee flower to your summer garden. When possible I have given links (see highlighted text) to plant vendors who are listed in the Dave's Garden Watchdog Top 30, a list of highly rated plant sources. I am confident you'll be satisfied when dealing with any of those vendors.
Huge thanks to the Dave's Garden subscribers listed in the article They've given permission to use some of the many beautiful pictures they have submitted to PlantFiles. Last picture of the day is hydrangea 'Angel Lace' by Kell. See more photographs and read member comments about these plants, in Plantfiles.