When you’ve got a garden to fill and a budget to keep to, budget plants can be ideal items to add to your shopping list. You’d be looking for ones that offer long flowering times, require little maintenance, can thrive in a multitude of conditions or just quite plainly have free-flowing growth habits.
Beautiful gardens make a property stand out and buyers would pay more for a simple, well- maintained garden. “A good first impression could make a world of difference as you have a chance to influence how potential buyers feel about your home before they even step inside. If you are considering selling or buying in the near future, a neat, well-manicured, and easy to maintain garden could be a deal breaker when it comes to adding value to your property” says Craig Hutchison, CEO Engel & Völkers Southern Africa. “There’s no need to spend a fortune, buyers can be put off by spaces that look tricky to maintain - basic weeding, pruning and adding a bit of colour to your beds will have the desired effect”.
The Bedding Plant Growers Association has compiled a list of the top 6 cost effective budget plants to brighten up your beds this summer.
Offering masses of blooms for months on end, these toughies thrive in areas where others just wilt. This is why verbena has made our list of winners when budgeting for your landscape. A true trooper, blooming from spring right through to autumn, with just the bare minimum of care, makes these ‘best of both worlds’ classic annuals a must. In fact, the main cause of problems with verbenas is over-pampering, especially when it comes to feeding and watering.
Start off by planting the seedlings in well-composted soil and water regularly while they are settling in. Once they are approximately 15cm tall and well established, they can be fertilised, once only, using a balanced slow release fertiliser. Then it’s important to only water them when the top centimetre of the soil dries out.
Verbenas do their best when they get between 8 and 10 hours of direct sunlight a day and are planted in well-drained soil. Plants that are kept too moist and don’t get enough sun are susceptible to powdery mildew and other diseases so simply planting them in their ideal position acts as a natural prevention for this problem.
Our next valued landscape addition, dianthus, offers the gardener excellent value for money as a bedding plant. With just a little care, they will brighten up any landscape for up to a year. They are very tolerant of both heat and cold so can be planted throughout the year. In short, if you are looking for months of glorious colour then they are just the thing for you.
Dianthus are very easy to grow. Plant them where they will receive at least four to five hours of full sun each day. They thrive infertile, fast draining soil. Plant your seedlings 25cm apart at the same depth at which they were growing in their seedling trays. Fortunately, insect and disease problems are infrequent.
Water your Dianthus during dry periods, once or twice per week, but avoid over-watering because it may turn their foliage yellow. Usually, a weekly watering of established plants will be enough unless the weather is extremely dry and windy. Add a general purpose fertiliser once a month for added flowering potential.
Bellis perennis or English Daisy combines a neat, compact shape with some serious flower power, making it ideal for brightening up landscapes. Planted now, they will shrug off the frost’s icy fingers, producing wave after wave of delightful blooms. In its native England, its tenacious nature has earned it a reputation as a bit of a weed. Fortunately, we don’t have to worry about that in this country where it behaves like the perfect annual; giving up masses of blooms through winter to early summer and then quietly dying off. Which is exactly what every landscape needs, making way for something new.
Plant your Bellis in full sun, although they can withstand part shade, in well-draining soil. Before planting add compost to the soil and dig in some slow release fertiliser. Plant only to the depth they were in the tray. Mulch well around the new seedlings, but be sure not to smother the young plants. For the first couple of weeks, water at least once a day and after that less frequently, depending on the temperature.
If it’s long lasting, bold colour you are after for your landscape, then look no further than Begonia semperflorens or Bedding begonias. Just the thing to brighten up dull areas. Begonias are renowned for their easy-growing and free-flowering habits, they thrive in both sun and shade and these obliging plants are also tolerant of both acid and alkaline soils. If planting in a sunny position the seedlings need placing closer together (10cm apart) as the plants won’t spread as much. If it is very hot, it is a good idea to mulch between the plants to keep the soil cool, although as the plants grow they will soon shade their roots.
One of the many advantages Bedding begonias have is that they are relatively maintenance free. They don’t need deadheading and will provide colour from early spring right through to the end of May, especially if given a regular helping of seedling food. If you’re landscaping in an area with mild winters, the plants will survive the cold months although they may look very scrappy through July and August. In early spring, feed them, cut them back and they will give another good show.
Primulas are the soul of winter and spring, whether planted en masse under trees or in formal displays. Dainty but generous, these flowers are a favourite for landscaping because of the abundance of their blooms and the ease with which they grow. Primulas are versatile and hard-working. Planted in swaths in a woodland setting, Fairy primulas create a flower carpet that blooms well into summer.
Primulas thrive in well-drained, fertile soil in a spot that receives light shade most of the day. Make sure that the soil is loose and enriched with plenty of compost. Many of the primula species are marshland plants so, as a rule of thumb; it is best not to let them dry out or bake in the sun. Primulas like moisture. Water them regularly. They can tolerate full sun in winter and spring but in hotter regions plant in semi-shade or in an east-facing location where they will only receive morning sun. They can tolerate mild frost but keep them well mulched. Mulch will reduce heat and preserve moisture on sunny days and provide protection in winter.
Petunias are one of those rare gems that reward very little care with masses of blooms making them an excellent choice for landscaping. There’s a wide range of petunias that will brighten up any sunny areas with the minimum of attention, giving you months of stunning colour.
When planting Petunias, choosing an area that offers a lot of heat and light will encourage them to flower throughout winter and spring – for up to five months! Those that you plant in cooler areas – even if they get full sun – will grow and establish in winter and burst into colour in spring and continue well into summer.
While your soil needn't be particularly rich to grow good petunias, it must drain well. It's always useful to improve the soil by conditioning it with organic matter, such as compost and a little well-rotted manure. Petunias do best in full sun, but can handle partial shade, especially in hotter areas, but give them at least six hours of full sun every day. They can survive the cold and do well if planted in late winter so that they have established themselves by the time spring’s warmth triggers flowering time.
For more Information go to www.lifeisagarden.co.za.