WHAT’S MY NAME?
Q These mystery flowers have popped up in several places around my garden. I’m sure I didn’t plant them. Can you tell me what they are? I do hope it isn’t a weed as it is so pretty. ALICE HENRY, KAIPARA FLATS
AIt is Linaria maroccana or dwarf toadflax. It is not a weed, but it does self-sow quite readily.
Linaria maroccana was one of the seeds included in last year’s mix of Plan Bee wildflower seeds given away with the September issue. If you or a neighbour grew a wildflower patch for beneficial insects last year, these plants could be their offspring.
Linarias are related to snapdragons and their flowers do indeed look like tiny snapdragons. Flowers often have two colours and can be white, yellow, pink, red or shades of blue through to purple.
Linaria is an easy-to-grow annual when planted in well-drained soil where there is full sun, but plants can cope with light shade for part of the day. It is not fussy and doesn’t need much in the way of watering, deadheading or fertiliser.
Seeds are readily available. Yates and Mr Fothergill’s offer Linaria ‘Fairy Bouquet’; Egmont Seeds has ‘Fairy Mix’ and ‘Fantasy Mix’; and Kings Seeds has ‘Licilia Azure’ and ‘Licilia Peach’.
In spring or autumn, sow seed directly where you want them in the garden. Seeds should germinate within two weeks. Thin to 10-15cm apart. Plants grow to 20-60cm, depending on the variety and you should have flowers within 10 weeks.