Plant Now: Phacelia

Purple tansy (Phacelia tanacetifolia) is often grown as a green manure or cover crop, but its slightly strange, long-lasting blooms make excellent cut flowers. They’re also one of the best food sources for bees, as well as other beneficial insects. The striking flowers reach anywhere between 50cm and 150cm high and bloom in spring and summer for several weeks.

Phacelia is a fast-growing annual, flowering 6-8 weeks after germination. It likes full sun and free-draining soil. In fact, phacelia grows well in dry soil. I’ve sown the seeds and forgotten about them and they’ve still flowered, a few weeks later, in their very shallow seed tray (perhaps a little stunted).

To get around that, sow seeds directly after the last frosts.

Image credits: The middle image is from here. Bottom image: planted as a cover crop – find more info here.

Plant Now: Kalanchoe


Kalanchoes, also known as flaming Katies, are easy-to-grow plants with cheery clusters of brightly coloured blooms. They’re perfect for winter, their flowers lasting several weeks, even months.

And they are low-maintenance. Place them in a well lit position in indirect sun and water once or twice a week. Once in winter should do – the soil should dry out slightly before the next watering. Don’t overwater your plants or you’ll kill them, and make sure you have a drainage tray or saucer that can be emptied. Keep your plants away from draughts too.

That’s about it. You don’t need to feed your plants when in flower, but you could apply a balanced fertiliser once the flowers have finished, if you wish.

If you’re purchasing a new plant, pick one that is still in bud.

Ask a gardening question and win!! – July

Daltons-rose-pack-giveawayHead over to Sweet Living (my other website), ask a gardening question and be in the chance to win!

Each month Daltons will answer a question or two, which I’ll feature on the site. Plus, you have the chance to win a gardening pack.

This month we have one Daltons Premium Rose Pack to give away (to Kiwis) that contains everything you need to grow gorgeous roses.

This pack is valued at RRP $95 and includes 2 x Daltons Nutrient Enriched Compost, 1 x Daltons Premium Rose Fertiliser, 1 x Daltons Premium Flower Bed Mix and 1 x Daltons Premium Goldcote Rose and Flower Fertiliser PLUS a pair of comfortable, versatile Red Back gardening gloves from Omni Products.

For this month, you must get your question in by 29 July.


Good luck!

Plant Now: Delphiniums

delphinium-lilac2delphinium-lilac1delphinium-boxDelphiniums are hardy perennials that tolerate cold weather and frosts. In fact, they grow better and last longer in cooler regions. They don’t much like humidity so you may get only 2-3 years in humid areas like Auckland, and even less further north.

Delphiniums are easily grown by seed; if doing so, sow now in trays for transplanting later. Dowdeswell’s Delphiniums has a fabulous collection, but you can also get seeds from Egmont SeedsKings Seeds and other seed companies available through garden stores.

Store-bought plants can be planted from late July through to Labour Weekend. Plant in free-draining soil in full sun.

The top image is via The Delphinium Society UK; the bottom image is via New Covent Garden Market.

Plant Now: Hellebores

Hellebores are a real treat in the winter garden, especially since more are more of the new varieties are arriving with beautiful pink or deep purple coats – my favourites. I love them all, though. They look dainty, but they’re hardy, and they’re easy to grow and care for.

Hellebores don’t like direct sunlight, so select a planting location that receives filtered sunlight most of the day. Under the canopy of a deciduous tree or shrub is an ideal location. Don’t give them too much shade though. While they are certainly shade lovers, most do better with some sun (not full sun).

Hellebores need well draining soil that is rich in organic matter, much like that found on a forest floor.

Sadly, hellebores don’t last very long in the vase because once cut, the stems don’t take up water. Not naturally, in any case. You can force them to do so though (do this within an hour of picking). Heat a saucepan of water with floral preservative dissolved in it to 70 degrees C (use a candy thermometer). Recut the stems and immediately dip the ends into the water. Hold them on a slant so that the flower heads are held out of the way of the steam. Keep them in the water for 20 seconds. Remove the stems and place them in a bucket of cold water. This shocks them into taking up the hot water with the preservative. You will get an extra 3-5 days vase life from your hellebores, but you can only do this once.

The image at the top comes from Love ‘n Fresh Flowers and includes bearded irises, ranunculi, tulips and hellebore seed heads. A beautiful bouquet for a spring wedding.

Plant Now: Sweet peas


Have you planted your sweet peas yet? You still can. Even though they are typically sown in autumn, here in NZ we can plant them throughout winter and even early spring (best in cooler areas).

We’re spoilt for choice with the colours available, but I’m loving the pinks and purples. I especially love the picotee varieties – those flowers whose edges are a different colour than the flower’s base colour, like the purple sweet peas in the top image.

Find a sunny spot in your garden that has humus-rich, well-drained soil, and sow seeds directly, or plant seedlings from the garden centre.

You can sow your seeds in small pots to transplant later if you prefer, but leave the containers outdoors, not in a greenhouse. Sweet peas germinate at low temperatures; strong plants result if grown in high light and cool conditions. Spindly, sprawling ones often result if grown in a greenhouse.

Photo credits: Top image is from WedLuxe; Middle image is from All Things Girly & Beautiful; Bottom image is from Love My Dress.

Sweet Living Issue 10


The latest issue of my free online magazine has hit the cybershelves! There are lots of goodies – baking, DIYs, backyard sustainability.



Ask a gardening question and win! – June

Head over to Sweet Living (my other website), ask a gardening question and be in the chance to win!

Each month Daltons will answer a question or two, which I’ll feature on the site. Plus, you have the chance to win a gardening pack.

This month we have two Daltons Premium Citrus packs to give away (to Kiwis) that contain everything you need to grow gorgeous, vitamin-rich citrus fruit.

Each pack is valued at $85 and contains 2 x Daltons Incredible Edibles Container Mix, 1 x Daltons Incredible Edibles Citrus Fertiliser (1.5kg) and 1 x Daltons Premium Planter Tabs PLUS a pair of comfortable, versatile Red Back gardening gloves from Omni Products.

For this month, you must get your question in by 22 June.


Good luck!

Plant Now: Forget-me-nots

Forget-me-nots (Myosotis) have staying power – both in the garden and the vase. They last up to two weeks in the vase and are a great substitute for gypsophila if you plant the white version (sometimes found on Trade Me). There is a pink form too, but I prefer the blue one, which can be pale or deep blue.

Forget-me-nots grow just about anywhere, so there’s no need to be particular with them. In fact, some may call them a weed, as they can be prolific. They are annuals, but they do self-sow easily. That’s not a problem, in my opinion, though. They are very easy to pull out if you’ve had enough of them.

They are hardy plants, thriving in cooler areas, though they’ll also grow in warmer spots, in sun or shade.

Sow seeds now for a spring display.

Top image: Blue hyacinths and forget-me-nots from Go Botanica.

Plant Now: Pieris japonica

Lily of the valley bush (Pieris japonica) is an evergreen shrub, which grows best in part shade. In spring and early summer, masses of white or pink bell-shaped flowers appear on 10-15cm long racemes. The pink buds, which show all through winter, are attractive too. Head to your local garden centre and pick one up now, so you can enjoy the buds and later the flowers in the next few months.

Plant in moderately moist but free-draining soil that’s slightly acidic.

Top two images from Flirty Fleurs