Drought Tolerant Summer Flowers
Felicia amelloides is an indigenous blue daisy with a sunny yellow centre. It's drought tolerant, grows in full sun or semi shade, and should be watered well during the growing season. Cut back straggly growth and dead flowers.
Arctotis and Gazanias
Arctotis is an indigenous sun loving annual that flowers mainly in spring, with Gazania like flowers in yellow, orange, red and pink.
Gazanias also flower in spring and are just as drought tolerant but with a much wider range of colours and variations. The 'Daybreak" series has blooms with dark ringed centres and stay open longer than other varieties. The "Tiger' mix has dramatic striped blooms and the "Frosty Kiss" series has large, daisy like flowers set against sparkling grey foliage.
The Verbena Quartz is an excellent garden performer with large florets above a spreading, mounded growth (25cm high). It is particularly heat and drought tolerant. The array of colours ranges from solid blue to burgundy, magenta, rose, scarlet and white.
Vinca or sun impatiens may appear as delicate as impatiens but they can survive intense heat. They thrive in virtually any soil condition and produce flowers that cover the plant from top to bottom in a luminous contrast to the dark, glossy foliage.
The Vinca 'Cooler' and Vinca 'Pacifica" are compact growers, up to 35 cm high, with bigger than normal blooms. They thrive in heat but also tolerate cooler conditions.
The Vinca 'Stardust Orchid' has luminous pinkish purple petals dusted with white to form a star shaped centre. The plants are compact, multi-branching and grow between 30 cm to 50cm high. The Stardust Orchid is also an All American Selections Winner.
The Vinca 'Mediterranean' is the only trailing variety. It is ideal for hanging baskets and containers and is available in a wide variety of colours.
One of the showiest new releases is the Portulaca 'Cinderella' with its double ruff of yellow and crimson petals. These sun-loving low maintenance plants have a low, spreading growth that makes it an excellent groundcover for sun beaten slopes or rocky outcrops as it simply tumbles down them in a cascade of colour. The 'Tutti Frutti" mix is a designer collection in apricot/salmon tones with white and the Margarita Series has large semi-double blooms that are produced freely on compact well-branched plants.
Ivy leaf Pelargonium
Pelargoniums are a mainstay for colourful containers and hot sunny beds. There are many varieties to choose from: the Pelargonium Zonale with scented leaves, the Pelargonium Pelgardini with the very decorative foliage and the Geranium Zonal, 'Starburst' with striped blooms. Pelargoniums should not be over watered and are particularly suitable for window boxes and hanging baskets where watering is sometimes neglected.
Petunias are in their element during dryer periods and they are the most versatile of all the annuals. The Million Bells ™ petunia in red/terracotta tones produces hundreds of tiny, vibrantly coloured bell-like flowers. Use it to provide trailing colour or even as a ground cover. The tiny flowers are the size of a two rand coin and cover the bush from top to bottom right through to late autumn or early winter. They like sun, well-drained soil and not too much water. Extend the flowering by removing spent flowers.
Other petunias to look out for are the ' Wave' petunia's if you need a quick growing ground cover, the 'Tidal Wave" petunias that can perform as miniature climbers, hedges or groundcovers or the 'Dream' petunias for massing in beds and as hedges.
The best-known variety is 'Early Sunrise' an early flowering variety that has double, bright yellow blooms. A new variety that has made its appearance is Coreopsis 'Rising Sun', which has double golden yellow blooms with a distinctive red fleck in the centre of each petal. Coreopsis grows in almost every kind of soil, is drought tolerant and thrives without much attention
Although not flowers, the indigenous Asparagus varieties are excellent, water wise plants for shade as they develop a strong root network that enables them to be hardy and drought tolerant. The Asparagus meyerii (Cat's Tail) is lovely potplant when small. In the garden it grows up to 1m tall and 2m wide. The A. plumosus Nanus and A. sprengerii both have fine, feathery leaves and a trailing habit. The A. myriocladus is an upright grower (up to 1,2m), with grey stem and small dark green leaves while the A. virgatus is a bushy, lower grower, 40 to 45cm tall, with deep green leaves.
Water wise gardening hints
Group plants with the same water requirements together.
Spread 5 -10 cm mulch of organic material like peanut shells, pine needles, or bark chips over beds to keep the soil moist and the roots cool. Renew regularly.
Install a mist irrigation system. This prevents excess use of water and reduces evaporation.
Water in the early morning or in the late afternoon to reduce evaporation.
Keep plants healthy by fertilising them once a month with a general garden fertiliser, such as Ludwig's Vigorosa. Healthy plants can withstand greater variances in temperature and water supply.
Spray preventatively to keep away pests, such as aphids, white fly, beetles, and caterpillars that will undermine the health of the plant and destroy the leaf cover, which shades and cools the plant.
For more information phone the BallStraathof customer care line: 0861-blossom (or 0861-256776) or email .