Today’s post is focused on which plants flower all year round

“I’m looking for a plant that flowers all year round” this question is uttered at least 5 times every weekend at a garden centre and often during social events when people find out you are in the plant industry. My usual answer is: “So you’re looking for a plastic plant?” Susan: “No, a real one, there must be a plant that flowers throughout the year and produces beautiful flowers?”

Sit down Susan, sit down and listen up. *Carefully places glass of wine on the table and prepares to educate.

Firstly, no plant on this planet flowers year round. Flowers are plants reproductive organs, and when they flower, they are ready to reproduce. Imagine being in a constant state of ovulation, with no breaks in between, you would be exhausted and probably not survive for very long.

The same rule applies to plants, they all flower during certain times of the year, because it correlates with the best time when their seeds (offspring) need to be dispersed to ensure successful progression. This is an adaptation of thousands of years of evolution of being landlocked, having to adapt to the climate, pollinators and various other factors. I.e. Succulents and some extremophiles that naturally grow in the Karoo only flower after it has rained, which can be once a year or once every 4 years, being able to sustain themselves on morning dew and reducing their transpiration surface by curling up their leaves for the rest of the time.

Most stonefruit only flower after the harshest cold of winter has passed, as this ensures their flowers won’t be affected by extreme frost. Adaptation is the name of the flower game and they all flower during certain times of the year, because it best correlates to their reproductive success.

Jasmine, a fan favourite, flowers at the end of winter, and it’s smell is most potent as the sun sets, why, because that is how it attracts its pollinators, moths, who follow the scent of the flowers. We are just lucky bystanders who get to enjoy the lovely smell of an evolved relationship.

“But I always see Roses at Woolies and I can buy Chrysanthemums in flower, in pots from my local nursery year round?” Susan, Susan, Susan. Most flowers one can buy from stores are grown in a greenhouse, which means the climate inside those greenhouses is manipulated to ensure that specific species can be grown year round.

It’s the same growing method that allows us to grow tropical plants in the UK or arid plants in Russia. We create small micro climates for these plants and grow them on mass for retail purposes. Place any of these plants grown in a greenhouse outside in your garden, and they will almost always die in a very short time. Why? They are not adapt to the local climate, they spent their entire life in a controlled environment and as soon as they are exposed to irregular temperatures or torrential rain, they wilt and die.

So even though you can buy beautiful flowers year round, it might be better to plan your garden around the seasons, ensure you have a composition that allows you to enjoy different flowers year round, instead of relying on one poor species to do all the heavy lifting.

Blog written by Mark Mac Hattie

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