In this article, we will discuss how to grow the tender perennial of Browallia in containers. Browallia was formally sold many years ago as a houseplant but people started to grow them as a half-hardy annual bedding plant. It is a small genus of seven flowering plants, where most are annuals or short-lived perennials that belong to the nightshade family, Named after the Swedish botanist Johan Browall.
They are found in North America, Mexico and South America and are not naturally found in the UK as demonstrated by very few gardeners growing them. This does not mean you should not try as when in flower, it should bright much colour to the container garden.
Browallia is a low maintenance plant that has bright blue, purple and white blooms that are produced on thin stems. They make excellent plants in hanging baskets or containers where they will cascade over the edge.
Find out how to grow this annual bedding plant in containers.
GROWING BROWALLIA IN CONTAINERS
You can grow Browallia from shop-bought plants online but this is unusual. It is more common to buy and start from seeds.
GROWING FROM SEED
If you are starting from seed, you will need to start in February and March. To do this, fill a seed tray with seed sowing compost and water it until the compost is moist. This is very important as the seeds are tiny and if you water them afterwards the seeds will be washed away. Gently and thinly sprinkle the seeds on the top surface of the compost, and gently press the seeds in but do not cover as they will need light to germinate. Place a propagator lid on and place it on a warm and bright windowsill.
After 2 to 3 weeks the seedlings should start to emerge. Let them grow on and once they are large enough to handle, you can prick them out and transplant them individually into 7.5cm pots full of multipurpose compost. Allow the plant to grow on and from Mid-May, you can start hardening off before planting out in late May.
At this stage, the young plants can be planted in containers individually or in groups or mixed with other bedding plants. You can use a 10cm diameter pot if grown individually or larger if planted in groups.
First, select a suitable container, making sure it has plenty of drainage holes in it. Fill it with a suitable multipurpose compost to near the rim. You can add a handful of slow-release fertilizer to give enough nutrients through the growing season. Dig a hole/holes in the compost slightly bigger than the root ball it came in the original container. Drop the plant(s) in so that the top of the root ball is at the same level as the top of the surface of the compost, Backfill with the growing media, ensuring that no gaps remain using more compost if necessary. Firm them in and water well. If you are using hanging baskets use 4 plants per basket.
In the UK, Browallia must be grown in full sun but in hotter climates, it is best to grow in partial shade.
They do not like the compost to dry out too much and conversely, they do not like it too soggy. Water when your container feels dry at a depth of 5cm below the surface of the compost. When you water make sure you water enough so that it emerges through the drainage holes. They will quite happily grow until frosts will kill the plant.
Once every two weeks once the blooms start to form is the best time to start fertilizing with a high-potash, liquid fertilizer.
It is not necessary to prune, but you can keep it with proportions or if it becomes ungainly. Pruning means that an unproductive plant may be encouraged to bloom.
You can overwinter your plants indoors especially when nighttime temperatures reach below 5 degrees Celsius. You will need to cut it down to size and bring it out again in May. The problem is that over time the plant will become too woody and will stop blooming. It is easier and better to sow fresh seeds every year.
PESTS AND DISEASES
They are sensitive to chemicals in the air especially in warm air, as this can lead to leaf damage. Aphids, thrips, spider mites and whiteflies can be a problem. These are best dealt with by spraying with jets of water or using a suitable systemic insecticide or miticide, following the manufacturer’s recommendations.
VARIETIES TO GROW
There are two main species that you can find Browallia americana and Browallia speciosa.
Browallia speciosa flowers from June to late September. Popular varieties include the blue flowering ‘Blue Bells’ and ‘Blue Trail’. For an alternative the white flowering ‘White Trail’. A mix of white, blue and lavender blues can be found in ‘Jingle Bells’.
In this article, we have discussed how to grow the not so often seen but still beautiful Browallia in containers. They are easy to grow, easy to care for, relative pests and diseases free and look stunning in hanging baskets. What more can you ask.
If you are looking for a plant not often seen hanging baskets, then this is for you.
If you have any questions or comments on growing Browallia in containers, please do so in the comment box below.
Happy Browallia growing.