Diascia: Twinspur

Height 30cm (12in)

Planting distance 15cm (6in)

Flowers early summer to early autumn

Any well-drained soil

Full sun

Half-hardy annual

The little twinspur (Diascia barberae) takes its common name from the shape of its shell-like, two-spurred flowers. They are rosy-pink and borne in loose clusters on top of slender flowering stems from late spring or early summer right through until autumn. Twinspur is a slender plant, clothed with ovate, glossy dark green leaves, and ideal for growing in groups at the front of borders, in bedding schemes and in containers. The variety ‘Rose Queen’ has exquisite blooms in great profusion.

Cultivation

Sow seeds under glass in late winter or early spring at a temperature of 16°C (61°F), covering them lightly. When the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them off into boxes of potting compost and harden them off in a cold frame. Transplant the young plants to their flowering sites in late spring.

Any light and well-drained soil in full sun is suitable. Pinch out the growing point to encourage sidebranching and dead-head regularly to maintain continuous flowering.

Pests and diseases

Generally trouble free.

Digitalis foxglove

Height 90cm-1.5m (3-5ft)

Planting distance 60cm (2ft)

Flowers early to mid summer

Any moisture retentive soil

Partial shade

Hardy biennial

Our native foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) is a wonderful combination of strength and delicacy, growing 1.5m (5ft) high in good conditions, yet needing no support for its gracefully arching stems. In early and mid summer these stems, rising from rosettes of green leaves, turn into one-sided spires of spotted red-purple or white bell flowers.

Foxgloves make excellent border plants, even in winter when their rosettes of foliage form good ground cover. They also look most effective growing in a semi-wild corner of the garden.

Popular varieties

Several varieties have been developed from the common foxglove. The following are readily available. ‘Alba’ has pure white flowers, suitable for cutting. ‘Apricot’ has flowers in an attractive shade of apricot. ‘Excelsior’ has tall spikes of white, cream, pink and carmine flowers spotted with maroon. ‘Foxy’ is a dwarf hybrid strain, growing about 90cm (3ft) tall, with flower spikes in white, cream, pink and carmine all spotted with maroon.

Cultivation

Sow the seeds in late spring to early summer in a nursery bed, by scattering them on the surface and then raking them gently in. Thin to 15cm (6in) apart, when the seedlings are large enough to handle. In early autumn transfer to the flowering position – preferably one in partial shade with ordinary garden soil that will not dry out in summer.

When the central spikes have finished flowering, remove them to encourage sideshoots.

Pests and diseases

Trouble free.

22. February 2012 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Annuals, Biennials, Bulbous Plants, Featured Articles | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Diascia: Twinspur

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: