Start thinking about colour for your winter and spring garden. With many of the summer bedding plants starting the trip to their end, our all time favourites are starting to surface. Of course it’s Pansies for sun and Primulas for shade and who can resist fragrant sweet peas for the vase?
Bedding plants are most rewarding this time of the year as there is just so much to choose from. These include calendula, cineraria, dianthus, delphiniums, Iceland poppies, nemesia, pansies, snapdragons and stocks. The range is extended even more with the selection of seeds that make adding colour to your winter garden just so easy.
Whether you plant your bedding plants from seed or seedlings the secret as always is soil preparation. Always dig over your beds to loosen the soil after removing your summer annuals, add liberal compost along with a sprinkling of bone meal or 2:3:4 planting fertiliser. The compost will help to aerate the soil and keep the soil moist through the drier winter months. The fertiliser will help the young roots establish faster to give you stronger plants. Add some BioGanic for all-round general growth after planting.
Some of our favourites this time of the year include the most popular colours of yellow, blue, purple and orange. We also like to mix the colours for winter as they always look festive in the colder months.
Eckards most favourite bedding plants:
Pansies: They do best in full sun with a compost rich, moist soil. Providing mass colour for borders and edgings, they also give vibrant displays in containers. Each plant will produce over 600 flowers if kept deadheaded and fed every two weeks with Multifeed classic.
Iceland poppies: Striking in full sun and can get by with little water. They do best in soil with good drainage. Iceland poppies make excellent cut flowers. Iceland poppies have glistening, translucent flowers, which are lightly fragrant. Their petals look like tissue paper or crinkled silk which form bowl shaped flowers. Poppies create a lavish display from mid-winter to late spring and are much loved by bees which are good for the environment. NOTE: Poppies love to be picked and make excellent cut flowers which will last longer in a vase if the stems are immersed gently in boiling water for 30 seconds.
Primulas: Primula have become synonymous with our winter gardens, as they are tough little flowers that grow easily and quickly in semi shade or partial sun and reward the gardener with a breath taking show of flowers throughout the winter and spring. A regular foliar feed throughout the growing season will ensure a beautiful show of flowers. We love both the Fairy Primulas and the Giant Primulas.
Petunias: The secret to growing the best petunias is to plant them in the hottest spot possible. Petunias are water wise and can die if over watered. Water them once a week to every ten days through winter and keep dead heading the spent flowers to keep them looking good. In the coldest months Petunias will stop flowering but keep growing and then in August as the temperatures warm up they come back into flower and give the best show ever.
It’s hard to pick our favourite seeds to plant now, we love fragrant Virginian Stocks and dancing Lineria but when it comes to easy to grow splashes of colour there are two that stand out.
Livingstone Daisies: Also known as Bokbaai Vygies they produce a glowing display in full sun planted in beds, borders, dry banks and rockeries. A quick carpeting plant they will practically paint the ground in colour. They like well drained, sandy soil and are the easiest seed for young children to grow.
African daisy: Also known as Namaqualand Daisies they grow to about a foot high. A mass show of large daisies in shades of yellow, orange, salmon or white with a brown centre is unrivalled in spring. Simply rake the seeds into the surface of any sunny patch of soil and water regularly till germinated. After that you can all but ignore them and they will still give a great show.
There is no reason to have a bland or boring garden through winter. By planting winter bedding plants you will have great colour that will last well into spring giving you months of joy.