Bedding plants and busy Lizzies

by Adam Pasco

It's performance that matters when it comes to bedding, and top of my list for the past few years have been New Guinea Impatiens.

Impatiens flowerIt's performance that matters when it comes to bedding, and top of my list for the past few years have been New Guinea Impatiens. In dry summers of the past the top spot might have been taken by pelargoniums, trailing Surfinia petunias, verbena, or a recent favourite, the fan flower (scaevola).

But these large-flowered busy Lizzies kick many other summer bedding plants into second (or third) place. They're stunning! Find a spot they like, which is thankfully a shaded position that most other sun-loving bedding plants don't, and they'll flower their socks off. There's no let-up in their flower power either, and kept moist they'll be in flower from May to October or even November. It all depends on when a severe night frost brings their reign to an end.

Still, five months of immense pleasure is quite something from plants costing about £2 each. What other plant could beat these New Guinea busy Lizzies? Ordinary impatiens are one thing, but as breeders have concentrated on creating compact hybrids they've lost their appeal in my eyes. No, I like things big, bold and blousy, so it's these amazing New Guinea hybrids every time.

New Guinea busy Lizzies can be grown from seed, but varieties are limited and seed often expensive, so I prefer buying plants instead. That way you can pick the best as they come into bloom, and check the exact colour of their flowers, too. The other annoying thing I find when buying seeds is that often you can only find packets of mixed colours not single colours. If it's a single colour I'm after - and I usually am - then my only option is to buy plants.

With at least another two months of enjoyment to come I'll just keep an eye on watering from now on, adding a liquid feed about once a week to keep plants growing strongly. Then I'll brush off the faded flowers as they fall and sit back and enjoy the show.

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Gardeners' World Web User 02/09/2008 at 19:49

I have planted "Compassion" this year against the wall. I am not a rose person but this is a superb specimen. Even in its first year it has flowered twice. It has strong growth with shiny dark green leaves and a pleasantly scented orangey pink flower. Quite lovely!

Gardeners' World Web User 02/09/2008 at 19:59

Hello... Please can anyone recommed any winter plants for containers. Thank you...

Gardeners' World Web User 04/09/2008 at 13:51

Could you please tell me if some kind of virus has been attacking impatiens this summer? Lots of gardener's have had the same problem as myself - plants losing their leaves and flowers from the tips and then the plant just rotting away

Gardeners' World Web User 06/09/2008 at 19:00

If Angela Jones has the same problem as me then the culprits are small snails which have decimated my busy lizzies. I have never had problems before and I have regarded them as bomb proof to pests. Slug pellets cant keep them at bay and I can only assume that its due to the very wet summer. Lots of gardens in the area (Macclesfield ) have been affected. Is this a widespread problem this year ?

Gardeners' World Web User 08/09/2008 at 17:02

Can anyone tell me how to make my agapanthus flower? All the articles I read say that they like their roots to be congested - which mine are. I have about 3 plants each in 2 pots, but they haven't flowered since I bought them.

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