Whether it’s an annual or perennial, shrub or vine, all flowers will benefit from some TLC.
Some flowers are easier to grow than others, but all need some basic care to thrive. Water is essential, as is light. Some plants need more sun than others (check the plant label), while others need warmer or cooler temperatures. All need nutrients to grow well.
Buying plants from the garden centre? Choose smaller seedlings over larger, cramped ones. When you get them home, don't leave them to languish in their tiny containers. Plants may become stunted and will be less vigorous when planted out.
Plants with tall stems need staking, otherwise heavy rain or high winds will flatten them in minutes. Avoid losing your plants to the elements and stake them from the outset. Pretty stakes add interest to the garden while waiting for your plants to grow.
Growing healthy blooms requires irrigation. To keep your garden in tip top shape, don't depend on rainfall alone. Drip irrigation is an excellent time- and watersaving method, though getting out the hose or watering can is a trusty alternative on dry days.
Where plants have been grown from seed indoors, they must be hardened off before planting outdoors. Move plants outside for short periods of time to gradually introduce them to direct sunlight and cooler temperatures. Do this over a period of 7-10 days. Start with 2-3 hours of mild (not midday) sun in a sheltered location. Increase exposure to sunlight a few additional hours at a time. Gradually increase exposure to cold. After planting in the garden, apply a diluted fertiliser to avoid transplant shock.
ALLOW FOR SPACE
What might seem like adequate spacing for a row of perennials in the first year may result in overcrowding the following year. Close planting also lowers air circulation, which can lead to disease. Ensure there's adequate space between perennials. Depending on the size and vigour of each species, spacing may be 30-60cm. Don't plant thugs with more conservative types, or you'll be forever clipping back the high flyers. Plants that produce untold seedlings might benefit from being planted on their own.
Whether gardening indoors or out, flowering plants need a few essentials: water, light, nutrients and good soil.
ENCOURAGE MORE BLOOMS
As flowers fade, pinch or cut off the dead and faded heads to encourage more blooms. Deadheading must be done regularly throughout the growing season, otherwise your plants will put all their energy into developing seeds rather than flowers. This is particularly true of annual plants, whose whole purpose in life is to set seed in order to reproduce. Deadheading the most prolific self-seeders will also keep them under control.
Patrick Blanc is the godfather of the vertical garden. His work is both awe-inspiring and expensive at $5000 per m2. So why not make your own? With the right plant choices, it’s easier than you might think!
The simplest way to create a vertical garden is to use Woolly Pockets or other purpose-built systems. Purchase several from a garden centre and attach them to an existing fence or wall. Planted up, they look like one large vertical garden.
Put gravity to work and install an irrigation system that allows water to flow down through the various levels, or use a pump to circulate water.
Great plants for vertical gardens include common thyme ( Thymus vulgaris), the New Zealand native Pimelea prostrata, which has sweetly scented white flowers, the silvery rock plant Convolvulus cneorum, rosy maidenhair ( Adiantum hispidulum), pelargoniums, echeveria, sedums, Spanish moss ( Tillandsia usneoides), ivy and staghorns.
When expecting visitors, insert single flower stems to add extra colour.