Phlox is a plant providing great colour in the herbaceous bed at the moment. Varieties of Phlox paniculata come in many shades ranging from white through pink to mauve and magenta.
They are greedy plants, needing lots of well rotted manure or compost when planted. Grow phlox in well drained soil in full sun. If some of the growing tips of the new shoots are pinched out when they are about 12 inches tall, the plants will grow bushier and produce more flowers over a longer period. A common problem with phlox is powdery mildew often caused by the roots getting too dry. The problem can be reduced by planting phlox in an open airy place so that is good air circulation around the plant and keeping the roots cool with a mulch. Most phlox grow to 3-4 feet tall, while there are some varieties like phlox ‘drummondi’ which only grow to 6-8 inches in height and are suitable for a rock garden. The stems of the phlox are quite strong so they do not need to be staked. At the top of each stem, the five petal flowers lie almost flat, providing a comfortable landing for bees. The flowers are usually fragrant. Propagate all phlox by division in autumn or spring by dividing the clump and discarding the dead part at the centre of the clump.
Flowering bulb of the week
Dierama (Angle’s Fishing Rod or Wand flower) is a plant to admire at this time of the year. The common name Angle’s fishing rod comes from the plants slender, graceful curving pendulous stems. The plant is evergreen producing clumps of long narrow grass like leaves up to 3 feet tall. At this time of the year it produces elegant arching wiry stems up to 6 feet tall, bearing funnel shaped pinkish purple flowers. The tall stems move like a fishing rod in the wind. The plant is hardy in all but the coldest districts, looking super when grown in gaps in the paving around a garden pool, in a situation where their elegant is reflected in the water. Dierama should be planted among low growing plants to accentuate the plants arching stature.
Plant the bulbs 3-4 inches deep in the autumn or spring in a humus rich well drained soil, in a sheltered position in full sun. Dierama does not like being disturbed, divisions and young plants are slow to establish and may take 3-4 years before they flower, but once established they are trouble free and well worth the patience needed to see them flower. Propagate by division in spring or by seed, sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. If grown in a gravel area they will self seed themselves. Most of the dieramas come from South Africa and produce flowers that are red, pink or purple.
Tigrida (tiger lily) is a plant from Mexico with a stunning flower in summer. The common name comes from the spots on the flower which look like the spots on a tiger. The foliage is similar to gladioli, it produces several flowers on each stalk, each separate flower lasts for just one day. The flower colours range from white, cream, yellow, pink and red. The average height of the plant ranges from 18-24 inches and will flower from July to October. Plant the bulbs 3 inches deep in a sunny position in spring. The plant is semi-hardy so cover with a mulch in winter.
Jobs for the week
Cut out any green shoots growing on variegated shrubs. Summer is the best time to prune away any unwanted green shoots.
Remove the sharp tips of yucca to avoid damage to eyes. Always wear gloves and eye protection when working around these plants.
Trees and shrubs planted in the last eighteen months may need to be watered, despite recent occasional rain there is a lot of drying and these trees need water at the roots. Water these plants well but do not feed with any fertiliser. Remove weeds from around the base and mulch with compost or bark to conserve moisture.
Feed acid-loving plants like camellias and rhododendrons with a special liquid fertiliser containing iron, such as sequestrene.