As we push towards winter, and if you are feeling overwhelmed with work from home, household chores and a touch of cabin fever, we have a great idea for you to take your mind off these things.
Whether you are an amateur or a seasoned gardener, winter is a good time for you to get down in the dirt with some gloves and trowels and plant those winter plants. As monsoon is in its last leg, the sun will bring some fresh sunlight for you to take the trip down to your closest nursery.
As a gardener of three years, I used to be very confused and overwhelmed in a nursery. I see so many plants, so many flowers and I just do not know what to buy. The result was that I ended up buying plants that may or may not be pertaining to the particular season. They would not flower or grow well and I am left with disappointment. Since then I have made sure to buy seasonal plants.
Seasonal plants are those that flower and flourish during a particular season, annually. I am going to list a few flowering and vegetable plants here which are ideal for winter. If you are a new gardener, you can simply pick up these seeds or plants from your closest nursery.
Available in beautiful shades of pink, purple, yellow, white and red, Petunia’s are some of the easiest plants to grow. Flowering annually in winter, these beauties grow fast and go up to 6 inches to 4 feet in height. The seeds have to be sown during the beginning of winter when the climate is cool. Simply mix the potting soil, water it and allow the water to drain completely. Let the soil be moist but not drenched completely in the water while you sow the seeds. When you sow petunia seeds, make sure not to layer them with soil on the top because they need sunlight to germinate. Although all types of soil work for petunia, they prefer somewhat sandy pot mix. As they are not huge plants, you can grow them in small planters or even hanging planters. Once they have bloomed, they need filtered sunlight. So, they can be hanged or decorated nicely in a part of the room where they get just enough sunlight.
Known for their riot of colours and petals, zinnia is another easy-to-grow and quick-to-bloom plant, especially known for their thriving bloom coverage. As these plants grow in any kind of soil, zinnia can be easily grown from seeds. The one thing you need to know about zinnia is that their seeds need to be sown in early summer. They need moisture in their soil all the time, so if the summer is too hot, you need to water them often and cover the soil with a plastic sheet to maintain humidity. Zinnia needs full sunlight so, these are technically outdoor plants. If you have a balcony or veranda that gets a good bout of sunlight, that is where your zinnia should go.
If you are looking at something that does not look like a standard flower, snapdragon is your answer. Coming in a multitude of colours, these grow into spikes of two-petal flowers that open like a lip. With one spike growing 10-15 small flowers, a group of multi-coloured spikes of flowers look like an artist’s palette. These plants grow anywhere between 6-48 inches high and are easily cultivated during the beginning of cold months. Snapdragon needs light soil and pot mix which should be slightly moist. Seeds can be sown in nursery beds or seeding trays. Snapdragon plants do not require a lot of water, so an inch by inch addition of water weekly is all it needs. However, they do require a lot of sunlight, so essentially, they are outdoor plants.
Dahlias are big powder puff shaped flowers that come in a variety of colours and shades. With many petals and big size, these winter-blooming beauties put on a stunning show. They need plenty of sunlight, so be sure to plant them in an area that receives good sun. They require porous and well-draining soil, so a potting mix of soil, coco peat and fertiliser should be used to plant them. Dahlias are easy to grow and easy to bud by pinching. After the flowers have bloomed, simply pinch off the head for good branching and budding. They are high maintenance so they require quite a lot of water and nutrients but cannot stand in drenched soil. Keep adding water and organic compost mix, but make sure to let the soil drain out completely. As dahlias can be grown from tubers, make sure to plant them in mid-September to October. If taken care off well, you can see your dahlia bloom by December-January.
A quintessential Indian flower, marigold is a beautiful and great smelling flower that comes in shades of yellow, red, orange, white, gold and copper. There are also cross budded varieties available in other mix colours and shades. If you plant them in mid-September to October, they bloom fully and spread their amazingly relaxing fragrance by December-January. Simply get a sapling and place them in a potting mix of soil and coco peat in a medium-sized pot. The soil should be well-draining and the plant should receive good sunlight throughout the day. So, the placement of these plants is extremely important. With occasional watering, the plant should do great and give beautiful blooms. One very good thing about marigold is that they repel insects and pests. So, if you have a vegetable garden, planting one or two marigold plants around can keep pests away from your produce.
We wish you glorious blooms this winter!