Wallflowers for autumn and spring

June 6th, 2014 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

'Sugar Rush' wallflowers bloom both in autumn and spring.I know, it always seems odd to be thinking about next year’s wallflowers when you’ve only just thrown this year’s plants on the compost heap. But whether it’s ordering plants or buying seed it really pays to give wallflowers a few minutes thought now.

You can always pick up a bundle of plants at the market in the autumn, of course. But that can be such a gamble. There’s always soil on the roots of the plants, as they stand in their buckets of water, and who knows if that soil is carrying diseases or weeds? Clubroot is the big worry, because wallflowers get clubroot the same as cabbages and caulies. So you may get diseases and weeds, you can never be sure of the colours, and you certainly won’t find the latest varieties.

I love traditional wallflowers, the scents and colours simply captivating. But the variety ‘Sugar Rush’, recently developed in Norfolk, has three great qualities. Firstly, it’s dwarf – ideal for containers and less likely to be blown over in borders. Secondly, it branches strongly so develops into bushy plants. And the kicker is the third feature – it flowers in the autumn and then again in the spring.

Wallflower 'Sugar Rush Orange'Other wallflowers need a spell of winter weather to initiate flowers buds but not ‘Sugar Rush’. The first flowers open in autumn, and may last into December. Snip them off as they fade and the plants will take a little break then come back into flower in spring.

The ‘Sugar Rush’ mixture comes in five colours – rich red, gold, primrose, purple, and orange. Plants reach about 12in/30cm and because of their dwarf growth, good branching and that double season of colour are ideal in containers. You can order plants of ‘Sugar Rush’ now for delivery at planting time or, if you still prefer traditional types, order seed of traditional varieties now for sowing next month.

 

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Is one of our best known gardening writers. A graduate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Graham was previously Gardening Correspondent of The Observer.
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