Big, blowsy and eager to please, these robust annuals are a cheap way to fill new borders.
Lavetera trimestris is among the most useful of summer-growing annuals. The name ‘trimestris’ means ‘flowering for three months’ and this is no exaggeration because you can expect a lot of flowers from these large plants which are native to the Med. Not only do they flower for a long time but the plants are big and leafy so they are good value. Though there are more compact varieties, the old favourites like ‘Silver Cup’ (which is pink) and the white ‘Mont Blanc’ reach 80cm high and 40cm across, and more in good soil. The seeds are large so easy to sow. You can sow them in spring where they are to bloom or in cell trays or pots. Sow two or three seeds per pot and thin to one if all germinate. A temperature above 15c is needed but these are not difficult to germinate. Plants grow quickly so do not sow indoors until mid April if you cannot plant out till late May because of frost.
The plants are quite bulky and will smother delicate plants to they are best mixed with other robust plants such as dahlias or strong herbaceous plants – they will swamp nigella and other, wispy annuals. But the reward is a mass of silky flowers in a range of pink shades, usually delicately veined, and white. ‘Dwarf Pink Blush’ is, looks as you would expect and is especially lovely. It grows to 60cm so is compact and not quite dwarf. The ‘Twins’ series, including ‘Hot Pink’ and ‘Cool White’ is a Fleuroselect Gold Medal winner and is a ‘triumph of plant breeding’ since the plants only grow 30cm high. Give me the tall ones any day!