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: Sage, Rosemary & Thyme


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Missing your fresh, summer annual herbs? No problem. Plant some winter-hardy perennial stalwarts instead. Thyme, sage and rosemary are all tough herbs that will survive the winter gloom. And they’re not only delicious sprinkled onto winter roast meats or as the star ingredient in recipes such as sage gnocchi (make your favourite parmesan gnocchi recipe and add copious amounts of chopped sage – yum!), they look fab in a vase too. And they’re medicinal!

The gorgeous bouquet immediately above (fourth from the top) features thyme, rosemary, lavender and Geraldton wax flower, among other flowers, but it’s the herbs that give it its delicious perfume. The second image from the top features sage and lavender, and the third photo has sprigs of rosemary. Pick herbs and mingle them with flowers for an aromatic display indoors.

Medicinally, thyme and sage are excellent herbs to have on hand for combating colds. Both have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral properties that can help soothe sore throats. A simple herb tea can be drunk throughout the day or gargled with at the first sign of a sore throat. Infuse a handful of fresh sage and/or thyme leaves in boiling water for 8-10 minutes. (Note: sage should not be taken if pregnant or breast-feeding.)

Or make a thyme syrup.

  • Steep ¼ cup fresh thyme leaves in 300ml boiled water, covered, for 15 minutes. Strain out the leaves and add ¼ cup honey and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Store in the fridge and keep no longer than a week.
  • For children 1 year or older, give 1-2 teaspoons every 2-3 hours. Teens and adults can take 1-2 tablespoons at a time.

Growing thyme
Thyme likes a sunny spot in free-draining soil. It doesn’t like wet feet, so add pumice or horticultural grit to improve drainage if required. If planting in pots, use a potting mix that’s low in nutrients. Rich soil encourages softer growth and diminishes flavour. Plants in the garden also have low fertiliser requirements. Drought and cold hardy.

Growing sage
Sage likes full sun and a limey soil (add some lime to your soil if necessary) that’s on the dry side. Soil does not need to be highly fertile. This plant is drought and frost resistant.

Photo credit: Second photo from top is from Real Maine Weddings.

Plant Now: Pansies & Polyanthus


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These are the sprightly contenders for the winter garden, with their cheerful flower heads in  colourful hues. Select individual plants from the potted colour section at your local garden centre, or plant seedlings from punnets of six. Either way, stock up and mass plant. Nothing brightens a winter garden like pansies and polyanthus.

Plant them in sun or light shade in compost-enriched soil.

Pick the stems for small posies indoors.

Plant Now: Eryngium

 

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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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.