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: Clematis ‘Freckles’

 

Long-blooming, hardy, and with attractive, glossy leaves year round, this flamboyant clematis is quite the novelty. Its bell-shaped, creamy blooms are heavily speckled on the inside. They start out raspberry red in colour then turn more purple-red as they mature. What more could you want in a plant?

Flowers in winter? Yes! Clematis cirrhosa var. purpurascens ‘Freckles’ puts on a terrific show in the cooler months. The flowers dangle at the ends of multi-branching stems, but there is no problem getting a good peak at the inside of the flowers, as ‘Freckles’ climbs up to 4m high.

‘Freckles’ was raised from wild seed collected in the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, so the plant likes a well-drained gritty soil in sun.

Plants available in New Zealand from Yaku Nursery.

Images: Top image by Jason Ingram; bottom image from Clematis in Seattle.

Plant now: Cosmos


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The annual cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus) is the perfect summer plant. It’s easy to grow and its showy flowers can be picked by the armload for the vase. Keep deadheading your plants and they’ll happily flower right through until the first frosts.

Cosmo likes full sun and free-draining but adequately moist soil (not overly so). If it’s hot and humid, give them a little more or they’ll slow down. They might slow down anyway when the days are long (when day lengths are greater than 14 hours flower development is delayed), but they will pick up again.

You can still sow seeds, or buy seedlings or potted colour from your local garden retailer.

Image credits: Top flowers are by Chihiro Kubota; second image down is by Flower Society; the third bouquet is by Jade McIntosh Flowers and photographed by Curly Leaf Photography.

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.