Colourfully Cool Companions
Winter is on its way and there is nothing worse than staring out a window onto a drab and dull garden. Since no winter garden is complete without the delicate blooms of the Primula malacoides, aka Fairy Primrose, and Phlox has exceptionally colourful flowers that not only flower just about all year round but also tolerate cold weather well, there is no reason you need to.
It is always tempting to purchase seedlings displaying the most colour, it is after all what attracted you in the first place. However, Primula really is one seedling that should be planted green (before flowers appear). Now is the perfect time to plant, do not leave it much later than mid-May to plant these seedlings.
Fairy Primrose make for a wonderful display when planted en masse, you can create a meadow in your own garden. Due to their height, they are a good filler for the middle to back section of your flower beds. In containers and hanging baskets they can be used to create a vertical accent and are perfect for shady areas although they can tolerate dappled morning sun.
It is a plant that thrives in the cool, short days of winter and early spring. They prefer soil that is rich in organic matter so it is important that you add compost to the soil before planting. Keep the soil moist, but not sodden and pay particular attention to watering if in pots or baskets. Primula malacoides do not like to get thirsty!
On the whole, the appearance of the Fairy Primrose is a dainty one. However, do not allow this delicate appearance deceive you, they are sturdy plants and once established require no attention beyond the occasional dead heading. Primula has moderate feeding requirements. If in beds, a soluble multifeed, used every six weeks is adequate. Monthly feeding is preferable if in containers or hanging baskets. This feeding will ensure prolific blooming and healthy, strong plants that are wonderful for attracting butterflies.
Phlox have an extremely neat and compact growth habit and are hence well suited to container growing, for edging borders or for planting in a rockery. Phlox varieties perform best in well drained compost enriched soil. Be sure to water regularly but do not overwater as this will cause them to rot.
When pairing with Primulas remember that Phlox grow to about 50-60cm tall while the Fairy Primrose only reaches about 30-40cm high, so place your Primulas in front. Establish a balanced watering regime that is enough to make sure your Primulas aren’t thirsty but not too much that your Phlox rot.
Nemesia is a delightful annual for the indigenous enthusiast and has a gorgeous snapdragon type flower offered in a range of wonderfully coloured hybrids. Nemesia are fast growing, hassle free annuals that are perfect for containers. Although they will tolerate a bit of shade, they prefer growing in a sunny position in well-drained soil. They don’t appreciate severe frost so don’t place them in an exposed part of the garden or a spot that is notorious for getting frost every year. Keep well-watered through winter.