Now is the time to plan and plant the winter annuals in beds if you happen to live in a ground floor house, or in pots, hanging baskets or window boxes on your balconies and terraces in case you have a home in multi-storied flats which have mushroomed all Delhi in recent years. Fortunately, Delhi offers a very rich variety of winter annual flowers to choose from. There are two ways to grow them – from seedlings grown by sowing seeds in pans/ pots, or by directly planting seedlings in beds and pots – that need to be prepared by adding manure like Vermi -Compost freely available in bags at all nurseries to sandy and loamy soil. Since this is peak season, seeds and seedlings are available in plenty in gardening stores and nurseries all over the city. My own favourites are: Balaji Beej Bhandar, Kapashera Mod, Green Ways Nursery, Dera Road Fatehpur Beri, beyond Chhatarpur Mandir, and the Rajdhani Nursery in Karbala, Jor Bagh. Masjid Nursery near Khan Market is also very well stocked with high-end stuff, but expensive. There is a wide choice of imported and indigenous seeds to buy in packets.-Goldsmith, PAN (US), S&G (UK) and Sakata Japanese) as also Indo- American Hybrid, Namdhari, Plant Man are some of the popular and tested brands to go for. The Govt. (CPWD) owned, Sunder Nursery near Humayun Tomb in Nizamuddin has shrunk in size, thanks to the creation of a heritage site near Humayun’s Tomb by The Agha Khan Foundation and the Govt Mehrauli Nursery, Jeet Singh Marg, Katwaria Sarai Opp NCERT Gate No 3 remain the most economical sources to meet your requirement of winter annuals, seeds and seedlings.in addition Gardening Societies like the Kitchen gardens Association and Horticulture Society of NOIDA hold plant Melas which unfortunately are over for this season.
This is also the time to hard prune the rose plants in your gardens and pots: expose its roots to the sun for about two weeks, fill it up with manure, and then flood them with water to get glorious blooms in December. The; plants have of course to be protected against fungi and mildew by regularly spraying Neem Oil mixed with water – stubborn infections have to be treated by spraying chemical fungicides like Bavastin.
Most winter annuals need plenty of sun, but there are a few like Cineraria and Salvia which also do well in the shade and semi-shaded spots. The Chrysanthemums, called “Mums” in the US, the national flower of Japan which come both in the dwarf (Korean) and giant varieties are the earliest to bloom winter annuals, peaking out in mid -December. Chrysanthemums saplings in tiny thumb pots brought from Pune and Calcutta costing about RS 10/- each are available in plenty. Look out for the Annual Chrysanthemum Shows in December in YWCA, Jantar- Mantar and Purana Qila, a treat for flower lovers.
My favourite winter annual are large Pansies, Hybrid Petunias, Californian Poppies,, Double Dahlias, Demarphotecas, Larkspurs, Godetias, Gypsophelas, Pholx , For providing ground cover, nothing to beat Mysembranthemums or Ice Plants called “’Baraf”by the Malis. These are multi-coloured with delicate leaves which easily spread along the soil surface in pots and beds. The blooms are glorious. For edgings around the beds Sweet Allysums and Canditufts look like garlands of white pearls. Other hardy varieties not requiring much pampering are Shasta Daisies, Nasturtiums, Marigold, Calendula, and Cosmos. Petunias and Pansies look very pretty in window boxes and hanging baskets.
You can procure their seedlings from any nursery and plant them in the pots and beds at home soon. They are heavy feeders and need frequent doses of bio manure.”Enriched Soil and Soul” is an excellent source of all kinds of Bio Manures. A Lady By name Poornima, very knowledgeable and helpful can be reached @ poornima@soil-n- soul.com ; Website-www.soil-n-soul.com.
So don’t just admire the winter annuals in the parks and gardens but grow them at home. There is no greater joy than to gaze upon the seedlings sown by you, break, first into a bud and then blossom into glorious blooms-unsurpassed beauty that only Mother Nature can create. Aesthetical pleasures apart, if you are able to get children to develop an interest in growing plants, you will be contributing substantially to conserving our environment and try to save the fast depleting green cover on earth. So go out and plant now.
I have taken on the role of Head Mali (Hony). of a small MCD park in our neighbourhood which has come in for a lot of praise and blessings from the daily walkers. I entered it in the competition organized by the All India Kitchen Gardens Assocn and came back with the 1st and 2nd prizes in small public parks category for two consecutive years! I also grow Bonsai’s and flowers in pots with own supply of garden and kitchen waste manure in terracotta “Khamba” on my terrace on the 5th floor which bagged a prize in the medium sized terrace gardens category in Delhi in a competition organized by the super -active Floriculture Society of NOIDA. So gardening as a hobby is not without its rewards!
Herewith for your viewing pleasure are a few clicks of winter annuals grown in our home last couple of years.