Ask any experienced gardener and they’ll tell you that no garden bed is complete without a representative of this group of annuals bringing their particular brand of hardy good cheer. Dianthus is one of those all-rounder’s that satisfies, no matter your priorities. If it’s a colourful show you’re after these little stunners can be coaxed into flowering throughout the year!
If you’re looking for something different this summer, look no further than a globe amaranth, aka Gomphrena. You’ll be forgiven for the “what?” expression since these lovely globe like flowers are not very well known, at least not yet. Their intense purple blooms are an eye catching addition to any garden though and will no doubt have your guests asking about them before the drinks are even served.
The delicately fringed blooms, typical of many of the dianthus, lend form and texture to borders, rockeries, small flower beds and balconies while their generosity of flowers, with a little coaxing, promise a bright splash of year-round colour. Plant your seedlings 15cm apart, with a thick layer of mulch between the plants, in a sunny position (although they will tolerate some shade in summer) in compost enriched soil and give them a fortnightly booster of a well-balanced fertiliser to ensure a bumper crop of blooms. Being “Water-Wise” Dianthus prefer infrequent but deep watering- another plus for this family of favourites.
Restricted to pots or simply yearning to bring your garden closer to your home? All of the dianthus group adapt exceptionally well to pots. Once in full bloom Dianthus can be brought inside as a living bouquet. Pay pots on sunny patios a little closer attention than you do the Dianthus in your garden by being more generous and frequent with your watering.
Gomphrena, aka globe amaranth, is a bushy, hairy leaf annual with globe-like purple flower bracts that sit atop thick stems. With South Africa’s hot and humid summers, our climate is ideal for these stunners to thrive. They are both heat and fairly drought tolerant and work well in both containers or as borders and edging.
Gomphrena do best in half shade and full sun positions in well-draining soil. They grow to about 60cm in height and make excellent cut flowers! The showy blooms attract butterflies too, so make sure to place them where they can be appreciated for both the blooms and their visitors!
Dill, an often overlooked herb is actually used in a wide variety of dishes, from the leaves which have a pronounced tang all the way to the seeds which taste similar to caraway. Grown in well drained composted soil, dill attracts your more beneficial insects like the tiny wasps that eat aphids
Rudbeckia, aka Denver daisies, offer up masses of show stopping yellow colour in the form of a low maintenance compact plant. What more can you ask for from a container plant? Well they flower for months on end, attract butterflies and tolerate heat too, so a perfect December choice for your patio planters! Deadheading will definitely go a long way to making that flowering period even longer, and with flowering stalks between 45 and 50cm high, cut flowers for the house are not out of the question either.
Information supplied by the Bedding Plant Growers Association. For more, go to www.lifeisagarden.co.za