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: 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.

Plant Now: Hollyhocks and Mallows


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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


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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.

Plant Now: Beautiful Pansies


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Pansies are a cheerful addition to the winter garden and make pretty posies for indoors. Plant seedlings or potted colour in moist, fertile soil in full sun or partial shade. Most pansies are bi-coloured, or single coloured with a yellow eye – in either case the range of hues these days is extensive. There HAS to be a pansy for everyone.

Pansies really do make lovely cut flowers; fill several small vases and place them on windowsills indoors.

The top image is from Mellow Stuff; the second image down is from Out the Front Window.

Plant Now: Sweet peas


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If you haven’t already, you should get your sweet peas in now. You don’t have to mollycoddle them – you can sow the seeds directly in the ground. Or sow them in peat pots and plant the whole pot in the soil when the seedlings are 5-8cm (2-3 inches) tall. They are hardy annuals and tolerant of low temperatures. In fact, high light levels in winter combined with cool temperatures are perfect for sweet pea growing. Plant in a spot that gets good sun; low light levels will result in smaller and fewer flowers.

The plants are vines, so they will climb trellises, fences, or even string, and produce more shoots with flowers as they do. When the plants get around 15cm (6 inches) high, tie the shoots to their growing frame.

Watch out for snails and slugs – you may need to use a bait.

When it comes to harvesting, pick your sweat peas when 2-3 flowers start to show some colour.

Image credits: Top photo (which includes sweet peas and stock) via Mod Wedding; middle photo via Love ‘n Fresh Flowers; bottom photo via Sussi’s Sussinghurst.