Colour Festival: April Garden Plants of the Month
The story behind the Colour Festival
Big flowers, small flowers. Climbing, hanging and creeping. For use in beds, in pots and containers, and in hanging baskets. The Colour Festival brings spring to your garden, patio or balcony in a flash. Begonia, Verbana, Gazania and Bougainvillea are all rich bloomers in different forms, so that they bring instant visual delight and experience to your garden. The low-growing summer-flowering plants Begonia, Verbana and Gazania come in various colours. Begonias are particularly offered in white, pink and red, Verbana in white, purple, red and pink, and Gazania in bright orange, bronze, white and yellow. The container plant Bougainvillea with its coloured bracts come in many shades that match beautifully with the other plants in the Colour Festival. Bougainvillea grows taller than the other plants. This allows you to furnish a balcony, patio and garden with plenty of colour at various heights, and you can always put together a combination to suit your personal taste.
Begonia and Bougainvillea originate from South America, Gazania from South Africa and Verbana can be found throughout Eurasia and the United States.
Begonia is always characterised by its asymmetrical leaves. For use in the garden, the main group on offer is Begonia B. Semperflorens Grp (the wax begonia) alongside B. Tuberhybrida Grp (tuberous begonia). New forms of both species are constantly being developed. B. boliviensis is a fantastic cultivar for use in the garden, and works well as a hanging plant, as does the Waterfall series. B. Betula is characterised by the rich blooming of small begonia flowers, the shrub begonia is a substantial plant, and B. fuchsifoliosa is a begonia with leaves that resemble those of Fuchsia.
Verbana is characterised by its composite flowers and lobed or finely incised leaves. Verbana is grown both from seed (often in a mixture of colours) and from cuttings (often offered by colour). Both come primarily in the colours red, pink, white and the like. There are also varieties such as bonariensis and rigida which grow taller and are often lilac or purple.
Gazania is characterised by flowers that open during the day in sunny weather and close again in the evening. The elongated spatula-shaped leaf is fairly tough, a sign that the plant can cope well with drought. The composite flowers are primarily orange, yellow, brown and pink. There are varieties with both grey and green leaves.
Bougainvillea is offered as cultivars of two different species: Bougainvillea spectabilis (bush shape with mainly purple cultivars) and Bougainvillea glabra (climber in many different colours). The plant blooms with coloured bracts which contain small pure white flowers.
What to look for when buying Colour Festival plants
- Regardless of whether Colour Festival plants are being offered in small pot sizes (usually grown from seed) or in large pots or bowls (usually propagated from cuttings), they must be sufficiently developed to show shape, foliage and buds.
- The soil must be damp. You may need to remove some yellowed leaves or old flowers if the plants spend too long on the shopfloor.
- Ensure sufficient light at the point of sale, otherwise these colourful bloomers could start to stretch.
- When buying Bougainvillea check the proportions between pot size and height, the shape of the plant and the ripeness. The plants must have sufficient light and have been adequately hardened by the grower to prevent them from dropping flowers.
Care tips for consumers
- Colour Festival plants all like a sunny spot, but can also tolerate partial shade.
- Flowering takes a lot of energy. Preferably prevent the soil from drying out. Colour Festival plants in tubs and containers often need some extra water.
- Some plant food once every two weeks encourages flowering.
- Wilted flowers can be removed. The Colour Festival plants will then produce new buds more rapidly.
- The low-growing Colour Festival Plants are annuals. Bougainvillea may flower again next year if it overwinters in light, dry and cool conditions.