How to Grow Garden Colour

Flowers are a gardener’s joy, and inject colour and fragrance into any garden. There are many varieties of flowers available in different shapes, sizes and colours that you can grow in traditional gardens, or in pots and containers to brighten up decks or courtyards. Some varieties can also be planted in your vegetable garden to help attract bees and other beneficial insects to aid pollination, and others such as marigolds can help keep garden pests away.

Planting

Spring is the time when flowers really come into their own. Once winter flowers such as violas and pansies draw to an end, it’s time to plant summer annuals such as cosmos, petunias, and marigolds. Use the ‘When to Grow Flowers’ guide for a more detailed planting plan. What you are planting into is very important, so for best results prepare your soil a week or two before you plant out –

  1. To prepare your flower bed for planting, firstly remove any dead or old plants and weeds. 
  2. Apply evenly a generous layer of Daltons Enriched Compost approx 40L per 2m2 and thoroughly work it into the soil. You can also add in Goldcote Planting Mix.
  3. As a guide, try and work it in to 1 ½ spade depth. This ensures that the soil has been fully aerated and the compost has been mixed thoroughly with the existing soil, improving organic matter, nutrient content and microbial activity. 
  4. If growing in raised planters or gardens, fill up the site with Daltons Premium Flower Bed Mix.
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Choosing the right variety

Flowers generally fall into three main groups and can be grown at certain times of the year.
Annuals Grow only once, then need to be replaced (some varieties self seed), many varieties to choose from. 
Perennials Non woody plants that last two or more years (they usually multiply and can be divided) and varieties 
come in a wide range of colours and sizes.
Biennials Sown the first year, flower second year, then are finished.

Bulbs and Roses
There are also a wide variety of flowering spring bulbs you can grow that add a burst of colour after a long winter – look out for the Daltons How to Grow Bulbs Guide for more information. 
For Rose lovers, Daltons also has a specific How to Grow Roses Guide if you wish to grow beautiful blooming roses in your garden.

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Growing flowers in containers and baskets

The best types of flowers that grow well in containers or baskets are varieties which are more robust and prefer the drier conditions found within a pot. You can also choose from varieties that are more compact or have a nice trailing habit (for baskets). Always use a good quality container mix such as such as Daltons Premium Potting Mix, or Daltons Premium Outdoor Container Mix – these have been specially developed to have moisture retaining qualities and deliver a well balanced slow release of nutrients. Many people grow annuals in pots – for best results toss out last season’s worn-out soil and replace with a fresh new soil mix. Alternatively, you can revive old soil with Daltons Premium Rose and Flower Fertiliser.

Ideal varieties for pots/container planting Recommended annuals for lovely hanging baskets
Dianthus 
Lavender 
Geraniums
Pansy
Violas
Petunias
Marigolds
Primulas
Lobelias
Portulaca
Livingstone Daisies
Alyssum
Lobelias
Bacopa
Portulaca
Verbena
Cascade Petunias
Livingstone Daisies
Ivy Geranium

 

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Flowers for shady gardens


There are flower varieties available that tolerate shade well and don’t require as much sun. These are perfect for filling up those difficult shady areas in your garden; just ensure you prepare your soil well before planting (see planting).
Some varieties to try are: Impatiens, Cyclamen, Clivias, Fuscias, Hostas, Cineraria

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Regional tips

For guidance on regional planting please talk to your local garden centre and see what is available as in some instances planting too early or late can lead to problems.

When to grow flowers

Summer annuals
Annuals are usually grown in the garden, and in containers or pots. There are summer annuals that can tolerate shade, but in general choose a warm sunny position for best results. Below is a guide of the ideal times to plant flowers in your garden throughout the season.

Month Sowing Indoors Direct Planting
  Seeds should be sown in trays indoors using Daltons Premium Seed Mix, then plant seedlings out in the garden six weeks later.
Varieties to try are:

Purchase seedlings from your local garden centre and plant directly outside in garden. 

Varieties to try are:

August/September Ageratum
Asters
Livingstone Daisy
Lobelia
Marigolds
Petunias
Portulacas
Salvias
Zinnias
Alyssum
Calendula
Cornflowers
Hollyhock
Nemesia
Snapdragons
Sweatpeas
October Arctotis
Asters
Cosmos
Marigolds
Sunflowers
Petunias
Phlox
Salvias
Zinnias
Alyssum
Cornflowers
Delphiniums
Hollyhock
Nemesias
Portulacas
Statice
Sweet peas
Verbena
Zinnias
November Asters
Celosia
Chrysanthemums
Marigolds
Sunflowers
Petunias
Salvias
Strawflowers
Alyssum
Ageratum
Arctotis
Asters
Cornflowers
Cosmos
Marigolds
Nemesias
Phlox
Portulacas
Zinnias 

 

Perennials
A wide selection of flowering Perennials are available in garden centres from May and they can advise you on the best varieties for the season and your region. Some perennial varieties you can try are:

Alstroemeria
Armeria
Anigozanthos
Asters
Astilbe
Cannas
Dianthus
Dahlia
Gardennia
Hot Rox Scaevola
Iris
Flocks
Lavender
Primulas
Polyanthus

 

Winter Annuals
These flowers are quite hardy and can tolerate the colder conditions, plus they add a lovely pop of colour in your winter garden.

 

Month Sowing Indoors Direct Planting
  Seeds should be sown in trays indoors using Daltons Premium Seed Mix, then plant seedlings out in the garden six weeks later.
Varieties to try are:

Purchase seedlings from your local garden centre and plant directly outside in garden. 

Varieties to try are:

March/April Calendulas
Cineraria
Cornflowers
Lobelia
Nemesia
Pansy
Lupins (South Island)
Snapdragons
Stock
Sweat pea
Sweet William
Viola
Alyssum
Aquilegia
Calendular
Cornflowes
Russell Lupins
Status
Stock
Sweet Pea
Viola
May Cineraria
Cornflowers
Poppies
Russell lupins
Snapdragons
Stock
Sweet pea
Wall flowers
Alyssum
Calendaular
Cornflower
Russell Lupins
Pansy
Stock
Sweet pea
Wall flowers
June/July/August Last plantings can continue till early June and into July, then stop and enjoy the flowers! Last plantings can continue till early June and into July, then stop and enjoy the flowers!
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Feeding and watering

For all summer annuals, apply Daltons Premium Rose and Flower Fertiliser every 4-6 weeks during growing season. Apply the same for perennials. Water regularly to keep plants growing healthily – around twice a week until plants are well established, and then drop back to once a week (weather dependant). Avoid overwatering.

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General maintenance

To ensure continuity of flowering, it is worth deadheading your flowers throughout the growing season. With some annuals such as cascade petunias, cut plants back once or twice during the growing season to encourage healthy new growth and flowering. Use Daltons Organic Bio-Fungicides Granules as a non-toxic and organic natural protectant.

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Pests and diseases

Slugs and snails can be an issue so protect plants with non-toxic pet and child friendly slug/snail pellets, or try organic alternatives such as beer traps, and surrounding plants with crushed shell, bark or saw dust. 
It does help to include marigolds and calendulas in your flower planting (particularly in summer) as the pungent odour they produce can help deter pests. Use Daltons Organic Bio-Fungicides Granules as a non-toxic and organic natural protectant.

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Gardening terms explained

Annuals Only lasts a growing season.
Deadheading The removal of finished flowers to encourage continuous succession flowering.
Free draining soil Soil that is light and well broken up. Water can penetrate the soil and drain without pooling.
Hardy plants Robust plants that can tolerate severe conditions.
Perennials Plants that live for more than one growing season.
Replacement planting/or succession planting Planting the same plant again as the previous one comes to an end.
Side dressing To apply fertiliser around the sides of the plant.