The aptly named Candy Cane verbena lanai.
The aptly named Candy Cane verbena lanai.

Bold plants leave long-lasting colour blaze in the garden

EVERYONE loves eye-catching colour in their gardens, so this week we've combined a couple of plants that would make a wonderful impact.

The timing of these two is just about perfect if you plant them now, to provide yourself with an outstanding display for the Christmas festive season, and they are long-term flowering plants that will continue through until late autumn, so they'll be ideal for Australia Day celebrations as well.

Several weeks ago we wrote about the verbena lanai 'twister', which is a great success producing successive flushes of flowers.

As a result, we feel confident in suggesting readers may like to plant another beauty aptly named Candy Cane, which produces heads of a unique colour combination of red and white star flowers right through spring, summer and autumn on plants that grow about 25cm high and 50-60cm wide.

Candy Cane is a vigorous, heat-loving grower, easy to care for, and responds quickly when you pinch out the old flowers, and there's the next flush.

These grow well in garden beds, and as it is a good branching form of verbena lanai, makes excellent large basket displays, as well as pots, rockeries and window boxes.

It is also important and heartening to know that this variety is less sensitive to mildew, so that's a great benefit.

The second choice, ideal to plant as a stunning contrast with Candy Cane, is the gorgeous salvia farinacea Velocity, a stunning rich blue form that also makes an excellent and hardy garden plant, as well as being ideal for squat pots and tubs.

Velocity is a neat and bushy upright plant, growing 40-60cm high, and 30-40cm across, and like Candy Cane, is heat tolerant and enjoys a sunny situation in well-drained soil.

Try a border of the two, with the salvia in the rear, and Candy Canes interspersed just in front, or you may like to create circles of the two, with Velocity in the centre surrounded by the gorgeous red and white verbenas.

This last idea could work well in a couple of wide and shallow pots that can be moved around to their best advantage, and of course near the outdoor Christmas party to add to the festive feel.

Think how good this would be around Australia Day too, with a flag or two displayed near them - they must have been just made for the occasion.

Whatever you do, don't spoil the plants by being mean with the potting mix.

You know the saying, don't buy a $10 plant and use 50c worth of soil to grow it, you've wasted both.

Searles Pots and Tubs Mix is the ideal potting mix for outdoor planting, as it holds water well.

Only water plants when the surface dries out - use the finger test, then water thoroughly, and leave for a short period, then empty the saucer out.

Plants should not be left standing in water.

Two tips that may help, we find a few stones in the saucer will keep the pot above the waterline, and if potting soil gets too dry and will not re-wet, use lukewarm (test it on your wrist) water, or iceblocks spread around the plant will gradually melt and saturate the soil.


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