Winter annuals will provide splashes of colour in the garden when the days are long and grey. April is the time to start planting your winter annuals. Seedlings of winter- and spring flowering plants are available in garden centres countrywide now, so choose your favourites and plant them as soon as possible. Plant your tall-growing plants at the back of a bed and low-growing ones at the front. Or plant them in containers to make your patio a happy place to be. Remember that massed groups of colour are more eye-catching than single rows.[custom_frame_center shadow=”on”][/custom_frame_center]
Prepare the soil for your winter annuals
- Before planting the annuals, prepare the soil well.
- Add plenty of compost and dig it in well to ensure that the soil is loose and friable.
- Remove all grass, weeds, stone and debris. Level the bed with a rake.
Plant the seedlings
- Plant seedlings on a cloudy day or in the late afternoon to give them a chance to settle.
- Before planting, water the soil and the seedlings in their trays.
- Remove the seedlings carefully so as not to damage the roots – ease each one from the container by pressing gently from below.
- Avoid pulling seedlings out of the tray by the stem.
- Once planted, water the seedlings lightly.
- In areas where winters are dry, it is important to keep winter annuals moist, but not wet. But instead of watering them lightly every day, give them more water at irregular intervals to encourage deep root growth. Also in drier areas, mulch the beds well to protect the plants.
- In winter-rainfall areas, water plants in the garden and in pots less frequently as the weather gets cooler. Don’t let them dry out though.
- Apply a foliar feed, especially in areas where root competition from trees or shrubs is a problem.
- Throughout flowering time, remove spent blooms to encourage more flowers.
Which winter annuals to plant where
In spaces that receive sun, plant alyssum, antirrhinum, begonia, Bokbaaivygie, calendula, candytuft, celosia, cornflower, delphinium, pink dianthus, godetia, lobelia, marigold, nicotiana, ornamental kale, petunia, phlox, portulaca, rudbeckia, salvia, stocks, sweetpeas, torenias, violas and zinnias.
Gardens in coastal KwaZulu-Natal can also be brightened with crotons and acalyphas, which have brightly coloured foliage. In semi-shaded spaces, plant Bellis perennis, blue forget-me-nots, bright-faced pansies, primula and schizanthus.
BULB NOTE: For gardeners in winter-rainfall areas: if your March lilies have finished flowering and become overcrowded, lift, divide and replant the bulbs, with the neck of each bulb just below the surface of the soil.
You’ll find lots more information about bulbs and specific species at www.thegardener.co.za
Acknowledgements & Photo credits