Renowned as the Remembrance Day flower, commemorating the fallen from World War I, it’s easy to see how these flowers with blood-red tissue-like petals became such a symbol. But poppies are experiencing a more cheery revival, with bunches of bobbing blooms, supported by neat wiry stems, chasing away any winter gloom.
Poppies flourish in full winter sun and fertile soil with good drainage. They need protection from strong winds, but try and keep them away from heat reflecting walls and paving as they don’t do well in the heat. Depending on your variety, they grow to about 30 cm tall.
Seedlings have very sensitive roots, so try and minimise any disturbance by watering your seedling tray before transplanting to keep the tray soil intact. Once planted, water frequently until they’re established and look firmly rooted in the soil.
Don’t be concerned about buying seedlings without any blooms; they will come once the plant is established, the earlier in the season, the better. When removing seedlings from the tray, don’t pull their delicate stems or leaves, rather push them out from below. Don’t bury the stems when planting, but plant to the depth of the seedling tray, spacing them about 15 cm apart in well composted soil. When buds start forming, boost flower development by applying small amounts of fertiliser and liquid manure to the soil. Pick these beauties often to prevent them going to seed!
If you are looking for beauty, elegance and a dreamy ethereal flower, this is it! Their single stems are dense with multiple beautiful blooms and their lasting spicy scent has been likened to cloves. Also a full winter sun fiend, seedlings can be planted during autumn and winter, spaced about 30 cm apart in well composted soil. Dependingon your chosen variety they can grow anywhere from 30 cm to 70 cm tall, so remember this when teaming with shorter companions. Regular watering and feeding will ensure ample flowering rewards. Do yourself a favour, Google images for a stock bouquet – you will want to go into your garden and pluck those fairytale flowers immediately.
Primula obconica, a bright little bundle whose flowers are made up of a perfect quintet of petal hearts. Also a winter sun favourite, it must not get too hot though. Keep it evenly moist but not wet.
Information supplied by the Bedding Plant Growers Association. For more, go to www.lifeisagarden.co.za