Native to Central and South America, and the West Indies, ageratum belongs to a genus of about forty flowering annuals, and they grow well in our hot climate. Aptly known as the 'Floss Flower', they are cultivated for their charming heads of abundant, fluffy blooms. The most popular strains are blue to bluish-mauve in colour, but newer cultivars in pink and white can be obtained from reputable nurseries. Ageratum are semi-hardy, and grow to about 30cm tall in full-sun, and semi-shade positions. This offers plenty of versatility, as they can be used for massed bedding, layered herbaceous borders, and attractive patio containers. Dwarf hybrids, with their more compact growth habit, reach heights of 15cms, and are also readily available. They work particularly well as ground cover, decorative edging, and in feature window boxes where space is limited.
Ageratums are at their sublime best in the warmer months, so your seedlings can be planted from spring well into the summer. They will produce the most spectacular results in fertile, moist and well-drained soil. The plants can stand moderate drought and wind, but will show more strongly if they receive some shelter, and generous watering during hot and dry spells. It is also a good idea to dead-head spent blooms regularly, as this prolongs the flowering season. Butterflies are attracted to ageratum, and planting it in your garden will encourage clouds of these elegant visitors. With its highly decorative, long-flowering appeal, charming ageratum is a real winner in the spring and summer garden.
Information Supplied by the Bedding Plant Growers Association. Contact Bronwen Tuck, chairperson 083 678 5907.
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