When the winter comes

Prepare your garden for the floral bonanza of winter annuals

When the winter comes

Annuals can be planted in a single colour or in harmony with complimenting textures. Photos by the writer

Amarjeet Batth

Once the monsoon recedes, humidity level goes down considerably in September and there’s a drop in the night temperature. This is the time to prepare the planting of winter annuals. Here’s how to go about it: The nursery beds are made 15-20 cm high and 60-90 cm wide under partial sunlight. The nursery medium is prepared by thoroughly mixing one part each of garden soil, river sand and leaf mould. Drench this with 0.2 per cent Bavistin to take care of soil-borne diseases. Depending on the seed size, sow these at a depth of 0.5-1 cm and cover. Maintain moisture levels but there should be no water logging. As the seeds germinate, uncover to do thinning and separation of lumps. When 3-4 leaves appear, reduce watering and expose them to sun for few days. In the evening hours, using a narrow blade, loosen the soil. Holding its leaves, gently pull the seedling with soil intact and plant into flowerbeds.

For the flowerbeds: Prepare levelled, inch-deep well-drained flowerbeds in a sunny location. Clear the weeds and dig to expose in sun for a week. Mix 5 kg of farmyard manure and 500 gm DAP in 100 sq ft area (10’x 10’).

The overall effect

When mixing the annuals, keep in mind not only the colour but the foliage and texture also. Do not plant these in stiff rows but in clumps or groups. Petunia colour tones present an excellent monochromatic approach. For vertical effect, use larkspur, lupin or snap dragon. To generate mass effect, plant annuals in proportionate volume with synchronised flowering. These can be in a single colour or in harmony with complimenting texture. Some varieties that can be grown are acroclinum, African marigold, antirrhinum, brachycome, calendula, California poppy, China aster, cineraria, cosmos, dahlia, dimorphotheca, French marigold, gypsophila, kale, lupin, nasturtium, nemesia, sweet sultan, Sweet William, stock, salvia and wall flower. To add colour and softness in the rockery, plant Alyssum (sweet), Brachycome, phlox and nasturtium. Flowers like antirrhinum, alyssum, petunia, stock, sweet peas, sweet sultan and wall flower will fill the air with fragrance.

Compact low-growing annual ties the flowerbed into a large identity. When planted along pathways, these soften the hardness and straight lines of the building. Sweet alyssum, ibris (candytuft), ice plant, brachycome, dianthus dwarf are some options.

Fast-growing holly hock, larkspur, peas (using support) make excellent screening plants to demarcate or make temporary division or partition. Lady’s lace gives good effect when sown against herbaceous border.

Bloom In the pots

Low-growing annuals are the best for pots. As a basic consideration, a fully grown plant should be more than 1½ times the size of pot. Bellis perennis, brachycome, pansy, kale, dahlia, sweet William, carnation, pink, matricaria, gazania, lupin, ice plant, nemesia, petunia, salvia, cineraria, nasturtium and pansy are successful pot plants.

Best suited for interiors are cut flowers like acroclinium, Lady’ lace, amobium alatum, antirrhinum, calendula, callistephus chinensis (Aster), centaurea, (corn flower), larkspur, dianthius caryophyllus (carnation), dianthius barbatus (sweet William), gerbera, gypsophila, helichrysum, iberis, mathhiola incana (stock), bells of Ireland with long and hard stem have long bloom.

A colour at an eye level is best offered by low growing and trailing varieties of petunia, geranium, verbena and nasturtium.

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