I have recently started reflecting on where plants in our garden are originally from, because people often ask me the same question about myself. Most of our flowers, fruits, veggies and herbs in the garden are from other countries. I have started writing a series of blog posts to explore some of our favourite flowers and edibles we have grown over the years which are from overseas. In this post, I would like to cover some flowers we have grown in our garden that are thought to originate from South America.
I enjoy growing both tuberous and fibrous begonias, which are both native to South America. I grow tuberous begonias in 18 litre square black plastic pots filled with container mix and keep the plants in a protected area, as they like to be sheltered from wind.
I won’t write much about fibrous (bedding) begonias, as I recently wrote a blog post about growing them from seed, which you can read here. There are pictures in the post as well.
I also grow hippeastrums in containers and keep them in our patio, as they too like being in a sheltered area. I use round 9 litre containers for these plants. You can source bulbs from mail order bulb suppliers or at your local garden centre.
Here are a few photos of plants from previous years. Note that some varieties are even named after cities in South America, which is a testament to their origins.
I love growing petunias every summer. You can get so many varieties nowadays, including special petunias which are sold in a 1 litre pot, like Night Sky and Queen of Hearts. Last summer, I grew petunias from seed for the first time and was very pleased with the results. I sowed the following varieties. All of these are available from the Egmont Seeds Commercial Catalogue, which is available from Egmont Seeds upon request (it is different to the home gardener’s catalogue which is on the website).
The process for raising seedlings was very similar to the way I raised bedding begonias from seed (see above for the link to the blog post I wrote about this subject). I started sowing petunias from seed in early spring (September for us). I sowed one or two seeds in each cell of a 198-cell seedling tray and kept it in a large incubator on my heat pad to germinate. Once the seedlings germinated, I moved the tray into our greenhouse so the plants could grow a bit more. Once they were large enough, I carefully transplanted the seedlings into a 72-cell seedling tray, which has larger cells. Towards the end of spring, I moved the trays from our greenhouse to the patio, to harden them off. Exposing them to outdoor temperatures gradually, in a controlled manner like this reduces the shock when the plants are finally exposed to the great outdoors. By December, the plants were large enough to be planted outside. Here is a picture of some of my petunias in bloom.