Hydrangeas and celosias

There are lots of flowers in my cutting garden right now, including hydrangeas, celosias, carnations and lisianthus. Most are easy to grow; lisianthus not so much. They are prone to damping off, and flower initiation is often reliant on climate. I’ll write more on propagating lisianthus another time as there is a trick to getting them to grow well.

In the meantime, mix flowers and foliage from your garden to make a summer bouquet. This makes a lovely, unexpected gift to take to a friend when visiting.

Plant Now: Celosias

Orange celosia
Orange celosia
The cockscomb celosia (Celosia argentea var. cristata) is so named because it looks just like a cockscomb – or a brain, if you like. It’s really quite a spectacular flower, making a long-lasting display in the vase. Seeds can be sown in trays now or sown directly in spring when all danger of frosts has passed. Don’t let the seedlings get too cool or moist as they’re prone to damping off. Seeds are available from Egmont Seeds and Kings Seeds. Or look for seedlings at your local garden centre.

Photo credits: top photo comes from Fifty Flowers; bottom photo comes from Wedding Wire.


Loving the lilacs

Purple lilacs
Lilacs and celosiaLilacs and anemone
Lilacs are just so darn beautiful, it’s too bad I can’t grow them here in Auckland. But I can grow those fuzzy, brain-like celosia, as seen in the middle photo. It’s best to wait until spring to plant those though, otherwise they won’t survive the winter. I can also plant anemones like the sumptuous looking purple ones in the bottom photo. In fact, it’s your last chance to get these bulbs in the ground now. Get them in during the month of May and your anemones should flower for you in late winter/early spring.

These lovely images are from Design Sponge.

Cleome, Snapdragons, Celosia

Plant now note paperOn the list for sowing this week in my patch are cleome, snapdragons and celosia. All are easy to grow from seed and all are great for picking.

Also known as spider flower, cleome is a long-blooming annual with pink or white flower heads in summer and autumn. It’s a breeze to grow from seed, germinating about 14 days after sowing and flowering in 100 days. Plant in full sun in moist soil and don’t feed too often or you’ll get more foliage than flowers. Deadhead regularly though and the flowers will continue to come. If you’re picking for the vase, watch out for the sharp thorns on the stems. From past experience, I know they’re painful!

Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) are one of my favourites. They flower over many months and they come in a huge mix of colours, from pale pastels to vibrant hues. Both Kings Seeds and Egmont Seeds also offer gorgeous bi-coloured varieties. Sow the taller varieties for picking and they will flower about 100 days later. The dwarf varieties flower sooner (70 days) but the stems are too short for the vase. Snapdragons will grow in full sun or partial shade.

Celosia plumosa can be sown from now until December. Young plants are susceptible to damping-off (a fungal disease that attacks seedlings), so don’t let them get too cool or moist. The hot pink, red, gold or orange plumes appear from midsummer, but they need plenty of sun and warmth to put on a good show. Grow in full sun and light soil.