Get ready to set your beds alight this November with blazes of pinks, reds, oranges, purples and white with this month’s toughest little bloomer, Vinca. With its shiny green leaves and amazing blooming beauty, this annual will liven up your garden a treat. Vincas make lovely companions in containers as well as brightening up your beds. This happy plant will give you months of colour. When not in bloom, it offers a neat green edge to your beds and paths.
Native to Madagascar, Hypoestes, our November companion plant, is a bushy tropical plant with pointed oval leaves covered in soft down. The plant produces small spiky clusters of pink or blue flowers, but these are not particularly extravagant or showy and it is for their colourful leaves that Hypoestes phyllostachya tend to be cultivated.
Vincas are tough little plants and actually flourish under our conditions although they are native to Madagascar. They like it hot and sunny with dry feet. Plant your seedlings in a full sun position, approximately 20cm apart. Remember to plant your Vinca seedlings in the early morning or late afternoon when the heat of the day is not too intense. Vincas prefer a slightly acid soil that drains well, but not one that is particularly rich or fertile. Dig the bed to a depth of about 30cm and incorporate a 10cm layer of compost or dry manure before planting. Apply a general fertilizer once or twice a season.
Once they are established, do not spoil them with too much water as they are very drought tolerant. Vincas are an excellent “water wise” choice. During times of drought the leaves may curl up but they’ll un-curl again at night or when the plant receives water. Don’t over water; you will do more harm than good.
The Polka Dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) is well known as a novelty indoor plant, but it has also emerged as a striking outdoor bedding plant that can be used to brighten borders or containers in those difficult shaded areas. The polka dots that give this colourful plant its name and spatter its foliage like a work of modern art come primarily in pink. However, hybrids are available with red spotting, white and a lighter shade of green. A hybrid with pink leaves and green spots is also available.
Being low-growing makes them great bedding plants and they will rapidly spread to add colour to borders and dull shady areas. They look good following the contour of a path and combine nicely with New Guinea impatiens. Hypoestes grow best in filtered sunshine and the plants will exhibit more pronounced colour in partial shade than full sun. Fortunately, this vivid beauty has few pest problems.
There is no fruit that signifies the coming of summer more than watermelon … so get planting! Since we’re already in November, seedlings would be a better option than seeds for a faster crop. Watermelon prefer sandy soil, need to be watered directly after transplanting and be very careful not to damage their roots while doing so! When the underside of your watermelon turns yellow or cream and the curled tendril at the end of the stem turns brown, it is harvest time!
A true beauty, Alstroemeria is an excellent choice when looking to brighten up gardens this summer. When planted up in containers and strategically placed in highly visible areas, these stunning summer flowering stalwarts that require very little maintenance and are seldom troubled by pests will wow any passers-by.