COLOUR IN THE COLD

BRIGHTEN UP A WIN­TER GAR­DEN WITH THE PRETTY, HARDY KALANCHOE

Life & Style Weekend - - GARDENING - Got a gar­den­ing ques­tion? Email ma­[email protected]­nat­by­ron.com.au

Lots of peo­ple think that noth­ing much flow­ers in win­ter and you re­ally need to wait un­til spring be­fore you can achieve any colour in the gar­den.

How wrong this is. Camel­lias, pan­sies, vi­o­las, poin­set­tias, cy­cla­men, cym­bid­ium or­chids and a host of other plants are in full bloom right now.

One of the best op­tions for win­ter colour, in­side or out, is kalanchoe bloss­fel­dianna. Per­fect for pots, rock­eries and sunny gar­den beds, kalan­choes have fleshy suc­cu­lent leaves that are lovely and round, with slightly scal­loped edges and no dan­ger­ous sharp or pointy bits like some other suc­cu­lents.

In win­ter, they pro­duce erect stems held above the plant, with up to 30 bril­liantly coloured flow­ers on each stem.

The colour range is ex­ten­sive, with whites, pinks, reds, yel­lows, or­anges and some multi-coloured flow­ers too.

The plants are quite small, usu­ally

grow­ing no more than 30–45cm high, in­clud­ing the flower stems. So you don’t need much room to ac­com­mo­date one of these cheer­ful win­ter-flow­er­ing beau­ties.

Kalan­choes are widely used as flow­er­ing in­door plants through­out Europe, be­cause they are pretty, hardy and flower for a long time.

Pop a kalanchoe in a pot and en­joy the long-last­ing flow­ers for months, in­side or out. They don’t need much wa­ter and will grow in full sun, part shade or a brightly lit po­si­tion in­doors. Cut off flower stems af­ter the blooms have faded to keep the plant look­ing neat and to en­cour­age more flow­ers.

If you want to plant your kalanchoe into a sunny po­si­tion af­ter a pe­riod in­doors, you’ll need to ac­cus­tom it gen­tly to the sun by mov­ing it pro­gres­sively into a sun­nier po­si­tion week by week. Although they will grow in full sun, I think that, like many suc­cu­lents, they do ap­pre­ci­ate a lit­tle pro­tec­tion from the harsh­est sun­shine.

Not much is re­quired in the way of care. Al­low the plant to dry out a lit­tle be­tween wa­ter­ings, es­pe­cially dur­ing win­ter, and use a liq­uid fer­tiliser reg­u­larly ac­cord­ing to the direc­tions on the pack. They will be dam­aged if tem­per­a­tures drop be­low zero, so are best kept in­doors over win­ter.

They’re not both­ered by many pests or dis­eases, mak­ing them a great choice for the time-poor or novice plant lover. Over-wa­ter­ing is the most com­mon problem and that’s eas­ily avoided.

The hard­est thing about kalan­choes is de­cid­ing on a colour and choos­ing a pot.

GREEN THUMB WORDS: MA­REE CUR­RAN

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