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Carpets of Colour

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Marigolds Marigolds If it’s warm, rich colours you are after then marigolds are just the thing for you. Their colourful flowers come in shades of orange, yellow, red and bi-coloured, with many flower shapes and sizes to choose from. You may be forgiven for thinking that surely marigolds are a bit old fashioned, because they bring back memories of your grandmother’s garden. This may have even been true a few years back, however they have made a big comeback in contemporary gardens.

Everyone has those shady areas in the garden where nothing grows, or at least they think, nothing can grow. Well the good news is that of course there are things that can grow there and we’ve got just the annual for you to use. Coleus, more commonly known as “Flame Nettle” or “Painted Leaf”, is just the thing to brighten up those shady areas.

Coleus Coleus Coleus Marigold

Bedding plants are an indispensable aspect of your summer garden. Marigolds fit squarely into this category! If you have lots of sun and well-drained soil, you can grow these easy to care for and ultra-rewarding bedding plants with very little fuss. They are particularly good at giving your garden bold swathes of eye catching colour. Some may have you believe that they water hungry and demanding, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact they generally thrive with minimal care and once established, only strategic watering during dry spells.

Plant marigolds in full sun in a well composted bed. To ensure continuous blooms (up to four months at a time), deadhead the plants regularly. Feed your plants every six weeks with a balanced fertilizer. Marigolds are a water wise choice, so once they have settled in after transplanting, water infrequently.

Pentas Pentas Pentas Coleus

Excellent for use as a ground cover, these plants will inject colour into the darker, drabber corners of the garden and will also do well indoors. They require fertile, well-drained soil and new plants, in particular, will benefit from a little extra watering. When planting, space your coleus uniformly and pinch back to promote new growth (pinching back the main stem at around 15 cm will result in a much bushier plant). At maturity you can expect a 30cm spread so this should be accounted for when contemplating your planting. At 20 cm high with densely packed foliage, this mini canopy will act as a natural mulch, keeping the soil cool through the summer months.

Onions

Onions may make most people cry while the pungent smell of their raw form lingers for hours but there is simply nothing more widely loved in the edible category! Thriving in full sun or partial shade, they enjoy fertile, well-draining soil but may OnionsOnionsOnionsneed some help with weed control. If weeds take over, they’ll definitely soak up the available sun before the onions skinny leaves even get a look in.

Pentas

Pot up a butterfly magnet for your patio this spring! Pentas make the most exquisite clusters of star shaped flowers, alive with fluttering wings, and are available in red, white or pink. Depending on how compact you’d like it to be, Pentas respond really well to cutting back and they also make excellent cut flowers!

Information supplied by the Bedding Plant Growers Association. For more, go to www.lifeisagarden.co.za.

Books

Gardening in the Shade

shade book

Growing Vegetables in South Africa

Growing Bedding Plants in South Africa

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