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Is It Too Late To Plant Annuals In February?

To say that we have had contrary weather around the world in the last few months would be an understatement!


It’s not easy planning a garden around seasonal crops like vegetables and annuals when one day we are experiencing torrential downpours and the next a heatwave that turns even the hardiest of succulents to crisp, former versions of themselves.


In most parts of the world in the southern hemisphere, where we have fairly lengthy summers, there is still time to plant fresh veggies (not your winter crops just yet) as well as herbs and annuals. Some of the finest weather is gifted to us from late February through to end March and, on the eastern shores, right up until end May.


So here are my suggestions for including some fresh colour in your garden right now, whether you are planting annuals as companion plants to your vegetables or as a splash of colour in containers or your garden beds :


Marigolds
Marigolds  | The School Of Garden Design

I would suggest the short variety. I am not a fan of the taller species in any event as the large flowers tend to make them look top-heavy. Marigolds (lemon, orange or with that touch of brown in the petals) make excellent companion plants for any vegetable crops, but especially tomatoes, as they fend off a possible nematode attack on the tomato roots.


Many people use marigolds for spiritual purposes (flowers and petals), and that splash of yellow or orange in your garden beds are always pleasing. Try planting yellow marigolds with Salvia ‘Mystic Spires’. You won’t be sorry.


Portulacca
Portulacca | The School Of Garden Design

This low-growing succulent with its gorgeous jewel-coloured flowers did not fare well in the heavy rains over December. Plant this now in a hot sunny space and watch those colours bring your garden to life. They are especially well suited to being tucked into small spaces in a rock garden.


Salvia
Salvia  | The School Of Garden Design

These annuals come in a wide range of colours now, as opposed to the red that was once the only colour available. They will give you a few seasons of colour if you plant them now. Be cautious of the mixed packs because certain colours have a blue undertone and others have a yellow undertone, so you really want to separate them and combine them with other plants that have that same undertone. (If you want to learn more about colour, enroll in our Essential Steps to Clever Plant Choices short course.)


Begonias
Begonias  | The School Of Garden Design

Begonia annuals have either a lime-green leaf or a bronze leaf and it is wise not to mix them. These hardy annuals can give you years of colour but do plant them where they will either receive light shade throughout the day or a bit of morning sun and then light shade for the balance of the day, but never deep shade. The flowers come in white, light or dark pink. These sturdy little plants will provide years of colour.


Dianthus
Dianthus | The School Of Garden Design

These annuals have flowered in my garden for up to three years at a time. After the floods in KZN last April, I decided to replace them with fresh stock as they were looking very tatty, but you can look forward to several years of pleasure from your Dianthus.


Tips For Planting Annuals :
  • Compost the area well and plant directly into that layer of compost. That way you don’t have to fuss about mulching these tiny plants afterwards.

  • Water either early morning or late afternoon.

  • Deadheading is so important to keep your annuals flowering. When you need ten minutes to yourself, go out into the garden and pinch any dead flowers off your annuals – and any roses you might own. It sends a message to the plant to produce more buds, and this is the most simple way to keep your annuals in flower for as long as possible.


To learn more about caring for your garden, why not enroll in our short course ‘Essential Steps to Nourishing your Garden’?

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