Saturday, February 24, 2018

21 Jan

Summer Bedding, An Article by Christine Walkden

There can be a few plants that give as much pleasure for sucha small cost as summer bedding plants, and with such a low skill requirement, everyone can enjoy growing them. They are suitable for borders, rockeries, among shrubs, in containers and hanging baskets, around ponds, for attracting wildlife, for cutting and/or drying for their fantastic seed heads and growing as pot plants.
The variety of colours both in flower and foliage, growth habits, forms, textures and length of flowering allows us to have colour for months on end and, providing we keep them watered, fed and dead headed, they can be in flower for up to six months.
Those bedding plants that are known as half hardy annuals will need to be protected until the last frost has occurred otherwise they can be damaged or even killed if the frost is severe. Examples include Impatiens, Lobelia, Petunia, Asters, Marigolds, Nemesia and Salvias. Others, which are known as hardy annuals, will survive some frost and do not need to be raised in a protected environment.

Many of us experienced problems with Impatiens last year. This was due to a disease called Impatiens Downy Mildew which is specific to Impatiens walleriana, the common busy lizzie, and not to any other types of busy lizzies. It is not capable of spreading to other plant species. Mildews in general are very common and nearly all of them are host specific, so Rose Mildew will not spread to another plant species in the same way that

Impatiens Downy Mildew won’t spread to another plant species. It is possible, however, to have a number of these mildew diseases present in a garden all at the same time.

Plants that are stressed by being kept too dry at the roots, those that have insufficient nutrients or too much fertilizer, and those planted far too close together all are more susceptible than when growing really well and at the correct plant spacing.
Symptoms of Impatiens Downy Mildew seen last year included yellowing of the affected leaves which were shed from the plant very quickly, sometimes a white fungal growth was visible on the underside of the leaves and the leaves decayed rapidly and flowers were also shed. Plants were reduced to bare branches with small tufts of leaves and a few flower buds at the growing point. Some plants just disappeared!
I had problems myself but this has not put me off growing these floriferous plants again, but I will not be doing so this year, as I am more than aware that one of the best ways of gaining control is giving the soil a break for at least one year, and possibly two, and good general hygiene. All the soil in the containers in which I grow busy lizzies has been thrown away and all the pots, containers and hanging baskets have been given a really good wash with a garden disinfectant. I have also taken the precaution of washing the walls and brickwork where the plants were touching just in case any spores got on to the hard surfaces.

 

I suspect that plants grown in the border soil will have infected the soil for some time so I will not be growing busy lizzies in the border for a number of years but I do intend returning to them again as they just flower and flower and are great in the shade.
The spores of the disease are airborne and are spread by rain splash or poor watering, so avoid overhead watering and water in the morning so the plants dry quickly. The spores need long periods of damp weather to develop and spread, so the disease is a problem in damp or wet seasons. If we get an Indian summer this year I suspect we will see nothing of the disease and it should be remembered that if you did not experience it last year, you should not be put off trying these easy to grow plants. If it’s warm and sunny we are unlikely to have problems.
 

 

 

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