Plant Now

I update this category weekly and include planting tips as well as photographs of new releases and old favs. Feel free to subscribe to my site too. Every time I post a snippet, it’ll be delivered directly to your inbox. Enjoy!

Plant Now: Eryngium

 

eryngium-planum1eryngium-bouquet-ribbonboutonnaires-weddingeryngium-planum2eryngium-planum4eryngium-planum3

Sea holly (Eryngium planum) is a fashionable cut flower with its steel-blue pincushion blooms on stems up to 120cm high. The long-lasting flowers are superb in bouquets and vase arrangements. See the gorgeous bouquets here – the top wedding bouquet, which features over at Green Wedding Shoes, is predominantly green and white, with a subtle addition of purple eryngium. The boutonnieres (photo from the beautiful Rock My Wedding website) include olive leaves, lavender, statice and eryngium.

Eryngium is a hardy perennial, tolerant of salt winds and of poor soil so long as it’s free-draining. In fact, if the soil is overly fertile, the flowers tend to sprawl.

The thistle-like flowers appear in late summer/autumn for several months.

Seeds can be sown in trays now, but chill them in the fridge for 10-14 days before sowing to aid germination.

Plant now: Cowslip


cowslip3cowslip2cowslip4cowslip1

Cowslip (Primula veris) bears upright stems of bright yellow, nodding flowers in spring. It used to grow wild in fields in Britain, though it’s not commonly seen there now. In fact, it’s quite rare in the wild due to over-picking (it’s a medicinal plant) and extensive farming.

Seed can be sown now, but stratify at 4degC for three weeks before planting. Cowslip grows in average to heavy soils in part shade.

Seeds are available from Kings Seeds.

Plant Now: Poppies


poppy-plum
poppy-orangepoppies-peach

Love poppies? Sow seeds now (late summer/early autumn) for a fine summer display. Look for Oriental poppy seeds (available from garden retailers and online mail-order nurseries) and start the seed in pots or directly in the garden.

Poppy seeds are tiny, so some gardeners like to mix them with a little sand to ensure they spread out better. I can’t be bothered with that. You can simply pour them into the palm of your hand, pinch up a few and sow them where you want. You can thin them later if necessary to give individual plants room to grow. There’s no need to cover the seeds: simply press them into the soil and water.

Images: Top photo from Deerly Missed; bottom photo from My Pleasure.

Plant Now: Late summer flowers


zinnias-rudbeckias-dahlias

Dahlias, zinnias and rudbeckias flower throughout summer and autumn, right up to the first frosts. Plant seedlings or plants from your local garden centre for a non-stop floral display.

Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum – pictured on the left) are great for the summer and autumn garden too – and, like dahlias, zinnias and rudbeckias – make great cut flowers. All enjoy full sun and free-draining soil.

Plant Now: Snail Vine


snail-vine1
snail-vine2

The snail vine’s (Vigna caracalla) scented blooms look a bit like (pretty) snail shells, hence its common name. It’s a climbing perennial, ideal for pergolas and fences in full sun and well-drained soil. Dig in plenty of compost before planting.

These are easy to grow by seed – sow them now (late spring/early summer at latest) for a long summer and autumn display.

You can collect your own seeds from the plant, which form inside what look like pea pods, for sowing next year. Old growth can be cut back in winter.

Seeds are available from Kings Seeds and Egmont Seeds.

Image credits: Top photo from The Olde Barn; bottom photo by Janie News.

Plant Now: Physostegia


physostegia1
physostegia3physostegia2

Physostegia virginiana, or obedient plant, is grown for its tubular white or pink flowers. ‘Vivid’ is one of the best varieties for cutting, with its long-lasting bright pink blooms. The stiff stems are ideal for arranging.

These plants are called obedient because you can push the flowers in any direction and they’ll stay.

Physostegia prefers average, moist soil, though plants are drought tolerant. Plant in full sun. Pick when just a few flowers at the base of the flower stalk are open.

Look for this plant at garden centres or online nurseries.

Plant Now: Hydrangeas


hydrangea-blue
hydrangea-redhydrangeas-ladys-mantlehydrangea-borderhydrangea-bucket

Hydrangeas are in shops now, so go grab yourself a couple, or take cuttings of your existing ones. I prefer these plants on their own in the vase, though occasionally I’ll see a nice mix of hydrangeas and foliage, like the display here (middle photo) by Olive & The Fox, with eucalyptus leaves and lady’s mantle (these are actually faux flowers – can you tell?). In the garden, though, I like my hydrangeas mixed, like this garden border (second image from the bottom) with white hydrangeas (‘Annabelle’), agapanthus, salvias and echinops, and some sort of ornamental grass at the back.

Hydrangeas like rich, moist but free-draining soil in partial shade. Dig in plenty of compost before planting and keep them well watered during the growing season.

Plant now: Selago densiflorus


selago-dSelago densiflorus

Selago densiflorus is a low-growing aromatic shrub to 1m high. It produces masses of soft purple flowers in late winter and spring. They look a little bit like lilacs (sort of, kind of, though not really), which I can’t grow here in Auckland, so I love them as an alternative. The stems are great for picking too. Plants will grow in sun or part shade, and they will tolerate dry soils.

You’ll find the plants in shops now, or buy them directly from 4Trees.

The top image was taken by Mike Lusk around the Taupo area; the second image is from 4Trees.

Plant Now: Hollyhocks and Mallows


hollyhock-3hollyhocks-4
hollyhock-2hollyhock-mallow1hollyhock art

I haven’t planted hollyhocks for a couple of years but I am going to do so this year. I should really have sown the seeds in autumn, but I’m going to sow them now (mid-winter) anyway. Undercover, of course. In my new makeshift greenhouse on the deck. Needs must. I long for an enormous Victorian-style glasshouse, but I neither have the room nor the money to purchase one. So my makeshift plastic contraption will suffice for now.

Hollyhocks (Althaea) flower from late spring/early summer and, depending on what variety you get, can tower above all other plants in the garden. If you don’t want to sow seeds, wait till the seedlings hit the shops (possibly next month) then plant them straight in the garden about 45cm apart in full sun in well-drained soil. They need space for air circulation as rust is a common disease among hollyhocks, especially in humid areas.

Indian or French hollyhocks (second from bottom) do, as their name suggests, look like hollyhocks, but they are actually mallows. They can be sown at the same time as hollyhocks – or look out for the seedlings in garden centres a few weeks down the track.

Photo credits: Top photo from Dave on Flickr; Photo second from top is from Happy At Home; The pale pink hollyhock was found on Indulgy; the striped mallow was also from Indulgy; the beautiful hollyhock artwork is by Fran Stoval.

Plant now: Thyme


thyme-carpet2
thyme-carpet3thyme-carpet1thyme-flowers1thyme-flowers3thyme-flowers2thyme-flowers-white

Ever wanted to plant a thyme lawn? Get a load of these gorgeous examples to inspire you. Thyme flowers come in all shapes and sizes and the different species and their hybrids flower at different times. Which means you can achieve a patchwork effect, and extend the flowering season, by planting several different varieties. In the bottom four images, you can see just how different the flower heads of different species are.

In small gardens, thyme can be planted in between pavers, or even in pots. In large gardens, the world’s your oyster.

Plant in a sunny spot in free-draining soil. Add pumice or horticultural grit to your soil if necessary, because thyme won’t tolerate wet feet.

Read more about planting a thyme lawn here.

The second photo from the top is from Zest Your Garden; the third photo is from Lankford Associates Landscape Design.