2 | Choose The Right Plants

2 Sep 2020
by Francois

Throughout this guide you will learn that there are a number of aspects that collectively determine how successful your plants will grow and ultimately flower! Knowing when to plant is one of them. With that aspect covered, let’s turn our focus to where and what to plant.

.

Your Space

Finding the correct space or simply enough space for your plants will prove easy for some and more difficult for others. While having ample space is a great thing, do not be fooled into thinking that having limited space is a deal-breaker. You will be amazed at the amount of flowering plants you can fit into a small space. With a bit of planning, clever plant choices and preparation, you will be rewarded with an abundance of flowers in no time!

.

Start with measuring the amount of space that you have. Next, take note of things like the number of hours in the day that the area receives direct sunlight. Sunlight is a very important factor. If you have to, divide your area into two or more blocks according to the amount of direct / filtered / no direct sunlight. Next, have a look at the current state of your soil. We will delve into the details of soil in Goal 3, but for now note things such as moisture – is the soil excessively wet or dry; workability – is the soil hard or soft; etc. Does it contain a lot of stones (small and large) or other obstacles, like large root systems from neighbouring bushes or trees? The aim here is to start forming a picture of the space that you have to work with. Knowing these details in advance will help you get clear on things that need remedying, planning your space and choosing plants. Once you have these details captured, put them aside for now.

.

Plant Options

There are a couple of aspects to consider when choosing which plants you will be growing. To have flowers and other cutting material almost year round, be sure to select plants from each of the different plant types. Also, choosing plants that are appealing to you or that you have always admired and wanted to grow, should most certainly be high up on that list. Why not spend some time going through the list of plants in the tables below and take note of the ones that strike your fancy? They are listed by their official / Latin names with common names indicated in brackets where applicable. You can also browse the entire seed collection in the online shop.

(Tender) AnnualsHardy AnnualsPerennials
AmaranthusAgrostemma githago (Corncockle)Achillea millefolium (Yarrow)
Clarkia unguiculata (Mountain Garland)Ammi (Lace Flower)Cardoon cardunculus
Cleome spinosaAntirrhinum majus (Snapdragon)Cineraria maritima (Dusty miller)
Cosmos bipinnatusBupleurum rotundifoliumCynara scolymus (Artichoke)
Euphorbia (Snow on the Mountain)Calendula officinalisDelphinium cultorum
Gomphrena (Globe amaranth)Centaurea cyanus (Bachelor’s Button)Echinacea purpurea (Coneflower)
Helichrysum bracteatum (Strawflower)Cerinthe major atropurpurea (Honeywort)Echinops ritro (Globe Thistle)
Monarda hybrida (Bee Balm)Coreopsis Hybrida (Tickseed)Limonium sinuatum (Statice)
Ocimum basilicum (Basil)Daucus carota (Queen Anne’s Lace)Monarda didyma (Bee Balm)
Pennisetum glaucum (Ornamental millet)Delphinium consolida (Larkspur)Phlox drummondii
Zinnia elegansDigitalis purpurea (Foxglove)Platycodon grandiflorus (Balloon Flower)
Lathyrus odoratus (Sweet Pea)Rudbeckia hirta
Matthiola incana (Stock)Scabiosa caucasica (Pincushion Flower Fama)
Molucella (Bells of Ireland)
Nigella (Love-in-a-Mist)
Papaver (Poppy)
Salvia horminum (Clary sage)
Scabiosa atropurpurea (Pincushion Flower)
Scabiosa stellata (Starflower)
Trachymene coerulea (Didiscus Lace Flower)
BiennialsSpring Flowering BulbsSummer Flowering Bulbs
Campanula Medium (Canterbury Bells)RanunculusDahlia
Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove)AnemoneGladiolus
Papaver (Poppy)DaffodilFreesia
Tulip

Your Time

Another important aspect to consider is how much time you want to devote to your garden. Whether or not you have someone to help tend to the garden may influence your plant choices. The reason that this is important, is because some plants are “easier” than others. This is true for various stages of the plant’s life, from how easy they are to start from seed to how pest and disease resistant they are. However, it is not realistic to think that if you only choose very easy varieties that it will just be smooth sailing – mother nature loves throwing the unexpected at us. Nonetheless, you can find solace in the fact that all plants fall somewhere on a large sliding scale of degree of difficulty to grow and we will not recommend anything that is at the difficult end. Also know that where varieties exist that are known to be more disease resistant, we will offer them to you instead. 

Whether you love to spend every single spare minute tending your garden, or prefer to do it on a more periodic basis, you will be happy to know that there is another category to help you decide which plants to choose to fit your schedule, namely plant productivity.

.

Productivity Category

Some plants will produce more flowers and over a longer period, i.e. be more productive than other plants. They can be divided into productivity categories – single, medium and heavy producers. Single producers usually have a single flowering stem with one large flower and once that is cut, they do not push out any more flowering stems from that plant. Many of these plants have been bred to be “single harvest” plants, focussing on the quality of that single flower. Medium producers will have one, or two or more flowering stems at a time and when you cut these stems, the plant will shoot up more, but they can only keep this up for a limited amount of time. Then of course heavy producers behave the same way, but in general have many more stems flowering at a time and can also produce many more over a longer period of time than the medium producers. 

.

Succession Planting

Another aspect that ties in with the productivity of a plant, is the principle of succession planting. This is a technique used by flower farmers to ensure a seamless, uninterrupted harvest over the whole season. It is simply a planned, multiple sowing of seeds according to a predetermined schedule. For e.g. if you want a continuous supply of a specific “single producer”, you will have to sow a couple of seeds every 2 weeks, so that when you harvest the flowers from the first sowing, the plants from the second sowing are already fully grown and ready to flower. You can do as many successions as you would like, right up to a couple of weeks before the end of the season. Generally medium producers are succession sown every 3 weeks and heavy producers every 4 weeks or more.

So how does the productivity category and succession planting tie in with the amount of time you can spend in your garden? We hope you agree that the aim is to have as many flowers, whether for garden display or cutting or both, for the longest period possible, right? With that in mind, the more productive plants you grow, the less time you will have to spend pulling spent plants out and replacing them with new plants. As simple as that. If this is something that is important for you to consider, be sure to cross check your options from the previous table with that of the table below, which has our plant list categorised according to productivity.

.

Single ProducersMedium ProducersHeavy Producers
Bupleurum rotundifoliumAchillea millefolium (Yarrow)Anemone
Celosia cristataAgrostemma githago (Corncockle)Calendula officinalis
DaffodilAmaranthusCineraria maritima (Dusty miller)
Euphorbia (Snow on the Mountain)Ammi (Lace Flower)Cosmos bipannaticus
FreesiaAntirrhinum majus (Snapdragon)Dahlia
GladiolusCampanula Medium (Canterbury Bells)Delphinium cultorum
Matthiola incana (Stock) select varietiesCelosiaEchinacea purpurea (Coneflower)
Papaver (pods)Centaurea cyanus (Bachelor’s Button)Gomphrena (Globe amaranth)
TulipCerinthe major atropurpurea (Honeywort)Helichrysum bracteatum (Strawflower)
Coreopsis Hybrida (Tickseed)Lathyrus odoratus (Sweet Pea)
Daucus Carota (Queen Anne’s Lace)Limonium sinuatum (Statice)
Cardoon cardunculusPapaver (Poppy) flowers
Cleome spinosaPhlox drummondii (Phlox)
Cynara scolymus (Artichoke)Ranunculus
Delphinium consolida (Larkspur)Scabiosa atropurpurea (Pincushion flower)
Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove)Scabiosa caucasica (Pincushion Flower Fama)
Clarkia unguiculata (Mountain Garland)Scabiosa stellata (Starflower)
Echinops ritro (Globe Thistle)Trachymene coerulea (Didiscus Lace Flower)
Molucella (Bells of Ireland)Zinnia elegans
Monarda hybrida (Bee Balm)
Nigella (Love-in-a-Mist)
Ocimum basilicum (Basil)
Pennisetum glaucum (Ornamental millet)
Platycodon grandiflorus (Balloon Flower)
Rudbeckia hirta
Salvia horminum (Clary sage)

.

Spacing Your Plants

Everyone knows that plants require space to grow and thrive, but just how much space do they need? Well, every plant is different. Some can be planted as close as 15 cm together, while others need more than 30 cm and some even 100 cm! The number of plants required for your space will depend on which plants you choose and what their spacing requirements are. The images below will give you a rough indication of the spacing, number of rows and total number of plants per bed for a sample 1.2 m x 3 m bed for a 15 cm, 23 cm and 30 cm planting grid.

.

.

You can find the individual plant spacing (and other) requirements on the product information tab of each of our seed varieties in the seed shop as well as on back of the seed packets.

.

Sunlight Requirement

It’s now time to come back to the notes that you made about the amount of sunlight that your planting space receives. Almost all plants require a certain amount of sunlight for them to flower properly. It is usually a specific number of hours per day that is required and the number as well as the intensity of sunlight required differs from plant to plant. The majority of our plants require at least six hours of direct sunlight every day and in general, morning sun is preferred over the harsh afternoon sun. If you live in an area with very high temperatures in summer, your plants will most certainly benefit from a period of dappled, shaded or indirect sunlight during the afternoon. It will ensure that the plant’s leaves do not burn and will also result in better quality flowers.

.

Using all the information set out in this goal, you should now be able to make an informed decision about which plants will be best suited for your growing area and have a good idea of what you want to plant. Using the productivity categories and spacing allocation, you can now work out how many plants you need for your planting space and subsequently how many seeds you need! We are very excited for you to have this important step completed!

.

GOAL 2 | KEY TAKEAWAYS
* Choosing the correct plants and the correct location is just as important as the correct planting time
* If you know all the aspects of your growing space, you can plan to overcome most of the obstacles to ensure success
* There are numerous plant options within each plant type to choose from
* Some plants are more productive than others and if your time is limited, focus on the heavy producers
* Plant spacing is important for various reasons, most notably at this stage to work out how many plants you need to fill your growing space.
* Sunlight is an important factor for optimal flowering so ensure that your space receives enough direct light

.

Next, we get down and dirty with It’s All About the Soil!

.

Latest Posts

Planning
Francois

Plant Like a Flower Farmer and Get a Jump-start on Spring!

As with all things in life, the key to success is planning. Give your garden the jump-start it needs to put on a spectacular spring

Read More »
Growing
Louise Steenkamp

Making Your Own Compost

Compost using the “hot composting” method Compost plays a vital role in any garden. It helps to build the soil and creates a fertile and

Read More »
Growing
Louise Steenkamp

To Mulch Or Not To Mulch

Some gardeners are devout mulchers whereas others are simply not fans at all. I find myself sitting firmly with the camp who believes its virtues

Read More »