Bye-bye petunias, hullo impatiens
If your petunias have gone soggy with all the rain, it is time to pull them out and rework the bed for summer annuals.
The best of these is still impatiens, and besides the mass appeal of the single flowering varieties, there are the feature varieties with double flowers or unusually coloured petals, trailing impatiens for baskets, compact growers for containers, décor varieties for indoor use and the exotic New Guinea impatiens for tropical gardens.
The Super Elfin impatiens is the most popular bedding variety and it is worth looking out for the various mixes that take all the effort out of making up your own combinations.
‘Splish Splash’ is a cool mix of lavender and violet tones, while the ‘Samba’ is a combination of deeper rich colours like ruby, lipstick, violet, scarlet and salmon. A particularly pleasing pink combination is ‘Parfait’ which consists of cherry light pink and deep pink.
If you like the impatiens look but need an annual for full sun, try Vinca’s, which are otherwise known as impatiens for the sun.
The new hybrid vincas are bushy and flower prolifically, unlike the scrawny purple vinca that most of us know. They are heat and drought tolerant, never need trimming or shaping, are happy to grow in poor soil and effortlessly produce masses of flowers.
They also come in a range of mixes. There is the ‘Merlot’ mix with large flowers in shades of burgundy, orchid, rose and white or the ‘Tutti Frutti’ mix that is a combination of red, coral, apricot and peach.
Under the present conditions of alternating heat and cool wet weather, spray with an organic fungicide, like the Margaret Roberts Organic Fungicide. Fungus diseases can affect impatiens when the leaves are wet for long periods and don’t have a chance to dry.
Check the drainage
All the rain has put pressure on our drainage systems and there is nothing that plants hate more than wet feet, even water lovers like impatiens.
One of the solutions is to build raised beds, at least 30cm higher than the lawn. The bed should be a mix of garden soil, compost and organics. To prevent the soil from being washed away the bed can be edged with a material that fits in with the style of the garden.
Any unused fertiliser in the ground should have been dissolved by the rains and there is no fear of a build-up in the soil.
Give the garden a general feed to keep it going well into summer. Use a general garden fertiliser like Vigorosa and keep to the recommended dosage rate of about 30 g of Vigorosa per bush and usually 50 g of other brands.
Over fertilising is more harmful than beneficial. Doubling should only occur up over a larger soil surface around large shrubs and climbers which have a more extended root system.
All these plants should be available at your local garden centre.
For more information phone the BallStraathof customer care line: 0861-blossom (or 0861-256776) or email .
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