Three stars amongst the perennials
The selection that’s in the spotlight this month as Garden Plant of the Month consists of three eye-catching stars in the range of hardy perennials. They’re Coneflower, Phlox, Delphinium. There are similarities and differences between the three plants. All three have seen fresh additions to the range in recent years, so that they’re available in more varied colours and shapes. They all attract bees, butterflies and other insects with their remarkable fragrance. But the plants are quite different in terms of shape. Whilst Coneflower has flowers that resemble sun hats, Phlox features plume-shaped sprays of flowers with bright colours. Delphinium has an extended flower spike with a ‘spur’ on each flower, which gives rise to the common name larkspur.
Summer-flowering perennials (Coneflower, Phlox, Delphinium)
Coneflower, also known as Echinacea, occurs in many different colours. An attractive green or orange heart is surrounded by slightly drooping colourful petals, from beautiful salmon or ochre through to deep purple and dark red. There are also white and red varieties, and even a double-flowered varieties. E. purpurea is the original species, referring to the lilac-coloured petals. The plant is also known for its medicinal properties, such as boosting immunity.
Phlox can be identified by its strong, sweet fragrance and its beautiful sprays of flowers. There are upright species, P. Paniculata Grp, that are also often used as cut flowers, and ground-covering species (P. Subulata Grp). Phlox is very appealing to butterflies and bees in the garden. Plant-breeding has created an updated range with beautiful colours. Pure white, deep purple, blue, pink with a red eye or even flowers with striped petals. The original colour was claret.
Delphinium it is a member of the Ranunculaceae family. It’s an impressive flower: stately, elongated and beautifully coloured. If you look carefully at the individual flowers along the spikes, you can see ‘spurs’ like those worn by knights. Various Delphinium cultivars are available in the shops: the cultivars derived from perennials are large, robust and impressive. The plant is available in beautiful pastel shades from blue and purple through to salmon and white. And the beautiful ‘eyes’ in the flowers are stunning.
Caring for Coneflower, Phlox and Delphinium
You can enjoy these perennials for years by following a few simple tips. It’s important that they’re placed in partial shade to full sun. The flowers will then flower lavishly. Place the plants in well-draining, damp soil and water regularly, particularly if they’re in pots on the balcony or patio. Give the plants extra food in the spring so that they continue to flower profusely for a long time and remain healthy. They will then produce especially lovely flowers. And you can pick a posy for yourself from these plants to have indoors as well. Put some cut flower food in the vase to enjoy them for 7 to 10 days.
Tips for keeping summer flowering perennials
In late summer, when the plants have finished flowering, you can cut them back and they may re-flower in the autumn. The plants will then die back above ground and hibernate below ground. Leave the dead parts on the plant to protect them against extreme winter conditions. They also look lovely with some frost or snow on them. Remove these parts at the end of February, and the plant will start to grow again in the spring in order to flower beautifully again in the summer. After a few years the plants can be divided to keep them young and vigorous.
More information about summer-flowering perennials (Coneflower, Phlox, Delphinium) and other garden plants can be found at Thejoyofplants.co.uk.
Garden Plant of the Month
Summer-flowering perennials (Coneflower, Phlox, Delphinium) are in the spotlight in June as the Garden Plant of the Month. ‘Garden Plant of the Month’ is an initiative by Thejoyofplants.co.uk. Growers and horticultural specialists from the floriculture sector select a garden plant every month at the request of Thejoyofplants.co.uk in order to inspire and enthuse. Because a garden isn’t a garden without plants.