A committed, no-nonsense vegetable grower, Alice Blackwood has never had the urge to plant anything as frivolous as flowers. Until physical distancing began. "I used to say I never want to grow ornamentals but last week I was really craving some
pretty flowers," she says.
"In the front yard I've put in hollyhocks, snapdragons, and Sweet Alice — all the nostalgic plants that my granny grew."
Scientists have explored why humans grow and give flowers, and found flowers have several benefits, inducing good moods and memories, reducing stress, and strengthening strong social links.
As an environmental scientist, Alice, 34, is more practical; she knows flowering plants provide important food and shelter for wildlife.
"We'd like to create a bit more habitat, so I've recently got a bottlebrush, grevillea, correa and a native mint bush [Prostanthera spp.]," she says.
"With the lockdown I've been spending more time in the garden; it feels good to be outdoors, doing something physical in the sunshine — and wanting to feel more in control of something too."
Tips for planting flowers in pots
Seeds and seedlings need regular watering as they're settling in, but autumn is a good time to plant, because the weather is cooler and there is more moisture in the air.
If you don't have garden space, or are renting, flowering plants in pots could cheer up your winter.
Before you plant
- Consider where you're going to keep your pot. How much sun, rain and wind it gets will affect your plant choices. Ask a local online plant group what will grow well where you live.
- When you buy a plant, ask if it has any special requirements. For example, orchids need super-good drainage, succulents need sandy soil, and water-loving plants may do better with moisture-holding coconut fibre added to the mix.
- When choosing different plants to share a pot, make sure they have the same growing needs; such as the same sort of soil and same amount of sun, water and fertiliser.