Brighten up your garden and lift your spirits with these winter plants
With its columns of hot, red flowers that surge forth through winter, ‘Malawi’, bred by Sunbird Aloes, is the perfect specimen plant. Its deep red buds are emphasised by protruding black filaments, making this hybrid quite unique. Birds, particularly colourful sunbirds, also find the flowers irresistible. This aloe has the potential to grow very large, developing a stout stem after a few years. Use it in rockeries or as a feature plant in large sunny beds. As with all aloes, plant it in well-drained soil.
No garden should be without dianthus and the new Dash F1 mix from BallStraathoff proves just how true this is. Their strong, straight stems hold bright, long-lasting fragrant blooms. These plants perform well in containers and in garden beds and don’t require staking. They do best in cool weather, so now’s the ideal time to get them into the ground. Plant the seedlings in fertile, well-drained soil and water when necessary to keep the soil moist.
While not a newly discovered species P. chimeni from Elands Nursery is now available for the first time in many parts of the country. This indigenous gem has pretty pink spikes of flowers set off against evergreen foliage. While it offers a few flowers throughout most of the year, blooming peaks in late autumn and early winter. Prune back after flowering. Unlike most plectranthus, it revels in both full sun and semi-shade. Growing up to 1m, it has a neat shrub-like habit. This combined with its water-wise constitution makes it a good container plant.
STREPTOCARPUS CAPE COOL MIX
The Cape Cool Mix is a strong new streptocarpus variety. Neat and compact with a floriferous disposition, it’s available in a mix of four colours. Also known as the Cape primrose, streptocarpus needs a warm, humid, shaded environment. If you live in a frosty area, they can be grown very successfully indoors. They’ll also thrive in conservatories and protected courtyards, planted in either pots or the open ground.
Foxgloves usually only flower in their second year – until now that is. Dalmation, a F1 perennial hybrid from BallStraathoff, blooms in its first year. Growing to about half a metre high it’s ideal for the backs of borders, defining pathways and at the entrance to your home. It’s uniform in height with well-branched, compact foliage and strongly coloured blooms born on good-quality spikes. Look out for the cream, peach, purple, rose and white varieties.
Now’s the time to plant petunia seedlings to guarantee a spectacular feast of colour in late winter and spring. The Sophistica collection is just the thing for those wanting designer flair; these petunias combine striking blooms in truly unique colours with superb plant quality. In pots, combo planters and baskets, combine Sophistica ‘Blackberry’ with its shimmering black blooms with Sophistica ‘Lime Green’s’ solid, saturated colour. When planting petunias, place them along a north-facing wall to trap the heat and light. Petunias don’t like to be waterlogged so water them deeply only once the soil has dried out.