Monday, July 31, 2006

Vinca and Surfinia

I love periwinkles and nearly always have some of them on the balcony in July and August. Their name comes from the Russian apparently – pervinka, meaning first flower. That presumably refers to the little blue creeping ones, Vinca minor. The ones I use, Vinca Rosea, appear in our local garden centre at the beginning of July. They don’t seem to get attacked by pests and diseases and are great for filling in holes left in containers because other things have died. This year though I’ve put them all together, and they’re just a mass of flowers.

But although they’re easy to maintain, I don’t find them easy to grow. I tried again this year using seeds from last years flowers, but failed miserably. The book said to sow in March at about 20° and keep them in the dark for three weeks. That meant in the house, as the temperature outside in March is nowhere near that – especially this year, when we had a long cold winter. So they lived under the bed for a while, but to no avail. It may have been the seed or the method, I’m not sure. I’ll try again next year.

Another “bought” success this year has been my yellow surfinia. I saw it in a roadside florist’s kiosk and couldn’t resist. I’d heard they were delicate, so didn’t have very high hopes, but it’s been wonderful. It’s quadrupled in size and has flowered non-stop, so I’ve spent half the summer dead-heading. I usually prefer ordinary petunias to surfinia, as I’ve found them a bit straggly in the past, but this one is so bushy that I’ve had to change its position – at the beginning I had it on the inside of the balcony, but after a few weeks could hardly get past it. So it’s now trailing over the balustrade. The only thing I hate about it is that, like all petunias, it’s incredibly sticky. The grower who manages to develop a non-sticky petunia is set to make a fortune ….

2 comments:

Sissy said...

Annual vinca is one of the hardest plants to grow from seed!
On some of the websites I have come across, it just says that the plants are inexpensive enough to purchase in seedlings!! Not a great recommendation for starting seed!

Sue said...

HI Sissy,
Thanks for your comment. Yes, I knew it was a bit of a challenge when I started, but thought I'd try anyway. Clearing dead leaves from the container yesterday, I've noticed that they've actually now self-seeded! I'll let the babies grow a bit and then repot them and see if I can bring them on as houseplants over the winter. Watch the blog for progress reports.

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