Top 5 water-wise bedding plants
DIY and how-to
Bedding plants are an indispensable aspect of your summer garden. They are largely responsible for giving your garden its eye catching colour. While some consider them water hungry and demanding, there are quite a few that thrive with minimal care and strategic watering.
Vincas are not only colourful, they are the real deal when it comes to waterwise annuals, making them ideal summer bedding plants for our often harsh South African climate. Our modern hybrids are bred to perform at the height of summer when the rest of your garden is wilting. Vincas have richly coloured, star shaped blooms set off against shiny green foliage that will brighten up even the hottest days of summer. They are available in hues of pink, rose and white and grow to a height of approximately 35cm. Newer varieties such as the “Flowering Favourite” Vinca ‘Stardust’ offer larger flowers and exceptional tolerance of hot, dry situations.
Plant Vincas in a sunny position about 20cm apart. They are very versatile and are excellent performers in beds as edging, in a rock garden or grown in patio tubs, containers or hanging baskets. Vincas are particularly wonderful for mass plantings in difficult sites with reflected heat from buildings.
They will perform well in almost any garden soil and once planted require minimum maintenance. If your plants have been damaged by frost, prune them right down and feed and they will once again reward you.
One of the reasons why petunias are so popular is that they have always been available in such a huge range of colours.
When planting Petunias, whether in containers, window boxes or beds, placing them along a north-facing wall is preferable, as it will trap a lot of heat and light. This is a prime growing position for petunias and will encourage them to flower throughout spring and summer – for up to five months! Petunias prefer a sunny position and well drained soil. Once they are established water them well, but infrequently. It is important to remember that Petunias require far less water than most other bedding plants.
Petunias can be grown all year round. “Grandiflora” Petunias like “Sunshine Yellow” have large flowers and are ideal for planting in autumn and winter in summer rainfall areas. “Multiflora” Petunias have masses of smaller flowers and are better suited for plantings in spring and summer in the summer rainfall regions as the smaller flowering varieties are more tolerant of rainfall.
If it’s loads of living colour you’re after then Dianthus are for you. Once snugly planted in a sunny bed, these delightful bedding plants will give you up to four flushes of blooms. That’s a whole year of colour! With its wide range of colours, adaptability and long lasting nature, coupled with its tolerance of both heat and cold, you know that you are onto a winner. This is particularly good news for those areas that suffer winter frost and are limited in choice for winter colour. Behind the Dianthus’ sparkling colours and ruffled blooms, lies a tough little plant that with the minimum of care will reward its surrounds with months of eye catching beauty.
Who doesn’t like receiving flowers, especially on Valentine’s Day? Dianthus “Valentine”, as its name suggests, is a perfect living gift for your beloved on the 14th, one that will not fade away after a few days. Its first flush of blooms will last up to three months and, like other Dianthus varieties will deliver set after set of colourful reminders to that special someone. “Valentine” is a “Flowering Favourite” and forms part of a new generation of bedding plants that is setting the standard for things to come. It has been carefully bred to ensure vigorous growth topped with masses of blooms. As a “Flowering Favourite” it has been assessed for its adaptability to our climate, how well it flowers, its disease resistance and its impact in a garden setting.
If it’s warm colours you are after then marigolds are for you, their colourful flowers come in shades of orange, yellow, red, and bi-colour with many flower shapes to choose from. If you have lots of sun and well-drained soil, you can grow marvelous marigolds. They are very uniform in growth and stay compact so they make great border plants.To ensure continuous blooms, deadhead the plants regularly. Interplant Marigolds with vegetable seeds or seedlings as they help to deter pesky insects. They are also attractive when planted with zinnias, salvia, purple basil or other similar annuals.
Marigolds are marvellous summer bedding plants and this year sees the Marigold Durango F1 Series meeting the strict criteria of a “Flowering Favourite”. This is hardly surprising considering that it is an All America Selection winner! Featuring four new varieties and a new mixture, the Durango series sets the highest standard for anemone-type marigolds. The Durango series delivers excellent branching for more blooms and strong stems resulting in superior flowers. Durango produces uniformly shaped, extra large 5 – 5,5 cm flowers in a terrific range of colours, making it an excellent choice for pots and flowerbeds. These bushy compact plants reach about 25 to 30cm outdoors.
Gazanias, indigenous to South Africa, are heat tolerant plants that require very little care. A showy member of the Daisy family, gazanias are perennials generally grown as annuals. They can be used as edging, bedding and ground cover, as well as in containers.
There’s a new Gazania on the block and it is already causing quite a stir. Gazania ‘Gazoo’ has been recognised both locally and internationally. ‘Gazoo Red with Ring’ scooped the coveted Fleuroselect Novelty Mark award in Europe and has been chosen as a “Flowering Favourite” in South Africa. Boasting large flowers – up to 10cm in diameter – it is the first Gazania with a real red colour.
‘Gazoo Red’ will open its flowers under lower light conditions than other Gazanias, while showing its colourful beauty for a longer period. It distinguishes itself from other gazanias with its very large flowers, its strong flower stems and its vigorous plant habit. Because the plants are so vigorous with strong stems, ‘Gazoo’ is ideal for landscaping or inter planting with other vigorous bedding plants, in pots or window boxes. Best of all for the lazy gardener is that this colourful, season long display comes with very little maintenance.
- Successful pot displays always require that the soil is prepared well and good drainage is a prerequisite.
- Add a good general-purpose fertilizer into the soil before planting.
- Do not pull seedlings out of the tray by their stem or leaves, as this will damage them. Rather push them out from below.
- Don’t bury the stems of the seedlings when planting, rather plant to the depth that they are in the seedling tray.
- After planting, water regularly until seedlings are established.
- Because they are waterwise, water deeply, but infrequently, allowing the soil to dry out between irrigation.
- A foliar feeding program will ensure healthy plants and a good show of blooms.
- Keep an eye out for snails when the plants are still small.
- If the habitat of the plant is scraggly, nip out growing tips to encourage branching.
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