The spring flower guide: Plant these flowers in late winter for a colourful spring

A colourful garden may be synonymous with spring, but the planning starts in late winter.

Words: Jane Wrigglesworth

Plant seedlings of alyssum, aquilegia, calendula, carnation, cineraria, delphinium, hollyhock, nemesia, pansy, snapdragon, stock, viola, and wallflower.

Plant bare-root roses in rich, well-drained soil with plenty of compost. If the area is poorly drained, build a raised bed or provide drainage. Choose a position that gets at least six hours of sunlight a day.

Gladioli can be planted in all areas. Stagger the planting of corms until December to get blooms from November to April. Check corms for bugs, as thrips can overwinter in the plant material. Rub or cut this off if infested. Corms should be planted 15cm deep and 15cm apart.


Buy winter and early spring colour such as azaleas, daphnes, erica, nandina, and libertia for their colourful foliage.


Prune sasanqua camellias once they’ve finished flowering. Prune fuchsias to encourage better growth. Plant some of these prunings to extend your stock.

Set dahlia tubers in boxes of sand to propagate. Keep the sand just moist, and shoots will appear. When they reach about 8cm high, take cuttings, dust in rooting hormone powder, and plant in small pots filled with seed-raising mix. Keep in a warm position out of direct sunlight until roots appear. Plant out after hardening off.

Dahlia tubers.

Take cuttings of short, strong shoots of delphiniums with a little crown tissue attached, and plant in a seed-raising mix. Place under cover to grow on. In warmer areas, feed shrubs with a balanced fertiliser, or make your own with a mix of blood and bone and sulphate of potash. In cooler regions, leave until next month.

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Chrysanthemums have been delighting gardeners for over 2500 years. Now is a good time to take cuttings of these prolific, easy-care flowerers. Take 8cm cuttings from strong basal shoots – these are small ‘baby’ plants that grow close to the base of the parent plant.

Remove the lower leaves and cut just below a node on the stem. Place in a sandy soil or seed-raising mix. Keep the soil moist and place in a warm, sheltered area or in a cold frame. Gardeners in cooler region may need to wait until September for decent basal shoots to appear.



Sow into trays and keep under cover until ready for planting out.


Sally Brown’s tips for displaying cut flowers

5 easy-to-grow summer flowers for homemade bouquets

NZ Lifestyle Block This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.
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