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October 2009

Gardening 101:
Diascia
Written By: 
Melissa Bigner

The do's and don'ts of growing the cool-weather loving plant

 


{Genus: Diascia Species: capensis }

WANTED:

Brown-thumbed gardener seeks dreamy container plant. Colorful, dainty spring to winter blooms preferred. Must mingle well with other flora, can take sun or mild shade, doesn’t drink too much, and can thrive on benign neglect. Lush looks, availability, and—let’s face it—a cheapo pricetag preferred.

MATCH:

Diascia. She’s a verdant, low-maintenance, nearly all-season annual that blooms her little heart out several times a year. Want to learn more? Read on for her vitals and how to get along great with this cool-weather lovin’ catch.


Stats

Origins: South Africa Height: About 10 inches tall Width: About 20 inches wide Foliage: Solid green Soil Preference: Easily draining soil (no acidic preference) Silhouette: Dome or mound Watering: Lightly moist soil Sun: Enjoys full sun to light shade Posse: Snails and slugs are fans Alias: Twinspur


Did You Know?

Diascia makes a great mounding groundcover, too. Plant in full sun (rock gardens are welcome), about 10 inches apart. Diascia is a great choice for Charleston window boxes for their rapid, verdant growth and cheery color. Pair Diascia With…

  • Trailers: Bacopa, ivy, vinca
  • Low- (to medium) riders: Alyssum, pansies, strawflower
  • Tall dudes: Purple fountain grass, snapdragons

Diascia Dos & Don’ts

Do: Plant in fall or spring. Don’t: Deadhead blooms. Instead, wait for all to wither then cut plant back to base to encourage new growth and repeat blooming. Cycle should continue until the first hard frost. Do: Cover the plant or bring indoors when hard frost threatens. With proper care, diascia can last through winter if the temps are mild enough. Do: Fertilize monthly or seasonally if planted in a shallow-root container. Don’t: Overwater. Standing water is the kiss of death for diascia, so give her a well-drained container and don’t overdo the watering. Do: Keep her roots covered. A light mulch covering (pine straw works) keeps soil from getting too hot or too cold. Don’t: Let her bake. Even though diascia digs sunshine, protect her roots if she becomes your summer container star, too, by placing her vessel in light shade.



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Illustrations by Sue Goldswain

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