I am not a great fan of all the bedding plants, potted individually, which are now sold to gardeners during the spring. The time seems to have passed when we simply bought bedding plants by the dozen-pack or even grew many of them from seed ourselves. I have seen people buying individually potted marigolds, zinnias and salvia – common plants that are readily available at much lower prices in dozen-packs at most garden centres.
Gardening now can be a matter of purchasing a lot of individually potted plants that are simply slipped out of their pots and into containers or borders to create instant gardens. I still like to handle the seeds and marvel at their germination, watch as tiny seedlings emerge and grow, and get my hands into the soil when transplanting time arrives. I like the tactile endeavour of tearing apart a dozen plants from a pack, separating them and planting them into a clump or row.
I must admit, I do succumb to temptation when in garden centres in the spring, and I do come home with a few patented, individually potted plants. One group that I particularly like is the argyranthemums which have been developed from the chrysanthemum genus and often have “marguerite daisy” or “cobbitty daisy” on the tags. Marguerite daisies are old annual favourites that have self-seeded themselves in rural gardens for generations – and still do, prolifically – in mine!
There are innumerable varieties of argyranthemums – pink ones, yellows, reds, and even some double ones, although most of them have single, daisy-like blooms similar to those of marguerite daisies albeit somewhat larger. I like these plants because they bloom all summer long without having to be deadheaded and are quite undemanding plants in terms of the care they require. They appreciate adequate water but actually are relatively drought tolerant, and they seem immune to insect and disease problems.
As long as night temperatures are relatively cool – as ours usually are – they will bloom non-stop all season long. I like to deadhead the plants simply to improve their appearance and if the plants do get a bit rangy and bloom becomes sparse, they can be sheared back a bit. This will cause them to branch out and resume blooming. I rarely do this as the plants I have had the last few years bloomed right up until fall frost cut them down.
I use argyranthemums as accent plants by path entrance-ways, spotted here and there in perennial borders, and combined with other plants in containers. Some of the plants are quite tall – one of my favourites is a yellow variety called “Butterfly” which grows 70 cm tall, while others are shorter, such as “Cherry Red” which only gets 30 cm high. I particularly find the shorter ones to be useful in containers. The foliage of argyranthemums is chrysanthemum- like and remains attractive throughout the growing season.
While I do not purchase individually potted flowers that are available in packs or common annuals that I can grow from seed, I do buy special plants like argyranthemums which are unique and have no comparable substitutes. I am grateful for the work of plant breeders who have developed such plants.
– Albert Parsons writes from Minnedosa, Manitoba