Flower varieties to spice up your garden

Potted Begonias in Zoya Verjee's home garden. PHOTO | POOL

Every once in a while, it’s good to spice up your garden by adding new types of flowers. Zoya Verjee didn’t grow up liking flowers. Her love for them blossomed while working at various flower farms. Having caught on, she founded EZ Plants, a company that’s in the business of distributing gladness in potted flowers, vegetables, fruit trees, and herbs.

Now a fully-fledged gardener, her garden in Naivasha is the laboratory in which she tests out new flowers.

“I established it after I moved here (Naivasha) two years ago. It’s actually my first garden. I started it not only because I’m in the business but because seeing them in my own home makes me sparkle inside,” she says. From her new flower varieties, she shares with us five that have done well.

Pot Chrysanthemum

This one does well as a houseplant or somewhere in your patio or garden. It comes in shades of orange, yellow, pink, red, and white. They grow to a height of between 25 and 45cm. If in a multiple flower pot, put a spacing of 30-50 cm in between plants. “Ensure your pot drains adequately to avoid clogging which causes root rot,” she advises.

To repot: Prepare your pots by filling up with soil up to 5cm from the top. Make a small hole about the size of the plants root ball, then place the plant in this hole. Cover up the soil in the empty spaces and press firmly down to compact the soil. Water the new plants, until you see water draining from the holes at the bottom of the pot.

Care: Pot mums, as they are commonly referred to as, prefer moist and well-drained soil. Remove fading/dead flowers to allow for new blooms. You can also trim the foliage to maintain a desired shape.

“Don’t water beyond soil level. Avoid watering the foliage to prevent diseases,” the finance graduate shares.

Hanging Begonias

Coming in glowing colours - red, pink and white, begonias have soft, drooping stems, gigantic flowers and wing-shaped leaves.

“These begonias are giving off tropical vibes. To get the best out of them them, grow them in large containers or hanging baskets under the watchful eye of the sun,” the gardenpreneur says, adding that they also do well in partial shade and partial sun.

Begonias are pretty easy to maintain, as they ‘self-clean’ and there’s no need to deadhead old flowers as they constantly replace old flowers with new blooms.

Osteospermum AKA the African Daisy

These are perfect for in the outdoors, inside a hanging basket, and can be transplanted, making them perfect for landscapes and container gardening. These lovely daisies are long blooming, heat and drought tolerant, not forgetting vibrant in their peach, pink, yellow, orange, purple, and white colours. They grow to a height of 15-40cm.

To transplant, dig up soil and add garden compost, manure and peat moss to add nutrients to keep soil healthy. Keep adequate spacing of 30-45 cm between plants to avoid crowding new blooms.

“After planting, water daily at first but when they fully feel at home, these flowers need water once the soil is dry. Your plant babies need some watering when you dip your finger 5-10 cm into the soil and it comes out dry,” advises Ms Verjee.

Pinching plants will encourage new shoots which will form a dense bush of flowers. Also, deadhead old flowers to maintain neat and healthy plants.

The Salvia

“For those who aren’t fans of pruning, I have great news! Salvia plants keep growing without the need to prune the stems,” Ms Verjee reveals. But that’s not the only reason for celebrating.

This heat and drought-resistant, easy-to-grow, sun-loving plant has vigorous growth with vivid and bright colours- pink, magenta, white, shades of blue, purple, lavender and red. Its shape gives form to any garden and landscape, as well as big planters or borders. It’s a 50-60 cm tall gem in a pollinator garden as it attracts bees, butterflies and friendly pollinators.

If repotting in a container, add some pumice to improve drainage and when planting, maintain a space of between 30 cm. Keep the soil well-drained to increase its lifespan and your happiness thereof.

The Garden Gerbera

These amazing flowers will hold their colour - yellow, copper orange, pink petals with white centre, maroon, violet with white tips - for months thus wonderful for gardens. Regular moderate watering is needed for these beauties, and soil should be maintained slightly moist.

Ms Zoya Verjee the founder of E Z Plants based in Naivasha Town which specialises in potted flowers and herbs checking some of the flowers on July 24, 2021. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI | NMG

“Because it’s a hardy plant, it will splash your outdoors with colour even in cold conditions,” the 20-something year old says. “Remember not to wet the leaves or flowers of your gerberas for longevity and pest-free blooms.”

Common Pests and Diseases

There a few common pests that tend to attack most garden crops, including flowers, veg and herbs. Among them aphids, white flies, mites, thrips and more. This takes a lot of energy from the plants, as well as serving as vectors for other diseases such as viruses. Look for organic ways to control pests. For example, using organic pesticides,” explains the plant-lover.

The other threat is fungal disease such as downy mildew, powdery mildew, and Alternaria. The most effective way to control fungal diseases is to maintain a dry environment by keeping the foliage dry by irrigating early in the morning.

Be on the lookout also for viruses, which are transferred by pests, white flies and thrips and bacteria gotten from infected water or from other infected plants through our hands. If a plant gets infected by virus this will be challenging to treat. The best way to treat bacteria that attacks the leaves, is to apply copper-based fungicide helps to treat infection, she says.

“I’ve had these flowers for five months and they’re still thriving and blooming, and don’t need a lot of care. However, I love them because they just make everything look nice.”

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