The days are not only getting longer, but temperatures are rising with the coming of spring. With the rainy season still more than a month away, it is a good idea to start planning your summer garden to experience the special gifts from Mother Nature – sunsets and honey.
Gazanias, indigenous to South Africa will greet you with their bursts of brilliant colours in the shades of an African sunset. Part of the daisy family, they have the typical daisy shape, with petals which vary in their splendour colours and detail.
Alyssum, also a plant that thrives in the dryer areas of our country, blooms in dainty umbrellas of multiple tiny flowers, sweetly scented with a very real honey-like fragrance.
Seedlings of these flowers should be available at your local nursery. Although, if you want to prepare your own seedlings, it is not too late to plant the seeds in your own trays. Plant the seedlings about 12 -15 cm apart.
Our proudly South African national treasure even goes by the name ‘Treasure Flower’, and its richness in colours and varietals were clearly the inspiration for its Greek origination of ‘gaza’ meaning ‘riches’.
These varietals include single, bi-coloured and even multi colours of orange, yellow, bronze and white that look like an artist has painted them. Gazania prefers full sun and can be used with success in a water-wise garden.
Petals do close on cloudy days and at dusk; some hybrids will open in low light. Showy blooms appear in early summer through early fall on this annual wildflower.
Care of Gazania flowers is simple once they’re planted and established in the garden. Gazania plant care does not involve much of anything, other than watering. Although they’re drought resistant, expect more and bigger blooms when you water.
Also known as sweet alyssum or carpet flower, these dainty plants make fantastic groundcovers as they only grow to about 20 cm in height. Plant about 15 cm apart as they are great spreaders, making them perfect for edgings or filling in gaps in pathways.
Seeds can be sown in seedling trays in spring and early summer when the soil temperatures are between 15 and 24°C. Do not cover the seeds as they require light to germinate, rather gently firm them down into the soil. Keep the soil damp but not wet.
Alyssum also enjoys full sun, but with some afternoon shade. Soil must be well-draining with not too much nitrogen. Like their companion, they only require moderate watering. When your plants are almost finished flowering shear them lightly to encourage a second flush of blooms. This will keep them tidy and blooming for longer.
Alyssum also makes for wonderful trailing umbrellas of white, pink, purple or yellow blooms in hanging baskets, wafting their sweet honey scent along your balcony.
Another lovely African indigenous, Pelargonium peltatum, better known as ivy-leaved geranium or cascading geranium are ideal for hanging baskets or pots. They’re also climbers which can reach up to 2m if encouraged. Their flowers of mauve, pink or white are incredibly rewarding when grown in full sun or filtered shade.
Press Release on behalf of: Bedding Plant Growers Association