In this article, we will be discussing how to grow the low-growing, clump-forming plant of Erigeron in containers. They are plants for the herbaceous border or alpine garden but they are also home in the container garden. There are many varieties that can be grown with their solid, daisy-like blooms but the most common are based on Erigeron karvinskianus, the Mexican Fleabane.
The small white flowers that fade to pink with age are produced over a long period of time from spring to first frosts in autumn. Other varieties produce blooms that come in shades of blue, pink and purple.
Erigeron karvinskianus make great plants in hanging baskets, where the blooms mingle with small pink Diascias. The plant is native to Central America and is hardy to – 15 degrees Celsius, where it will grow well in dry, sunny gardens in the UK.
They are easy plants to look after and tend to be versatile, having many uses in the container garden. They are popular with pollinating insects and should be the number one choice for attracting these. If you have heavy, clay soil then this is one plant that should be grown in a container to avoid disappointment.
GROWING ERIGERONS IN CONTAINERS
You have two options on how to grow Erigeron as you can grow them from seed or you can grow from garden-ready plants.
From seed, you will need to sow in late February to April if you want them to flower in the year of planting. All you need to do is fill a seed tray with a good quality seed compost and water well, allowing any excess water to drain away. On top of the compost, thinly scatter the seeds over the surface, and lightly press the seed in. Do not cover with more sieved compost as they need light to germinate. Place a propagator lid on top of the seed tray and place it on a warm, sunny windowsill. After 14 to 20 days the seeds will have germinated.
When the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them out and plant into 7.5cm diameter pots full of multipurpose compost, and allow them to grow on. In mid-May slowly harden off for planting in containers in late May.
YOU CAN TREAT HOME-REARED AND SHOP-BOUGHT PLANTS THE SAME AT THIS STAGE
At this stage, shop-bought Erigerons and home-reared plants can be treated in exactly the same way. Firstly, choose a container that is within proportions to the plants, like a hanging basket, window box or pots. Whatever you choose make sure it has plenty of drainage holes, as too much water can cause the roots to rot.
To the bottom of the container add a 1cm layer of gravel to help with drainage. On top of this add a mixture of 20% by volume of horticultural grit with 80% by volume of multipurpose compost. This will create a free-draining growing media, suitable for the plant in question.
Dig a hole slightly bigger than the root ball it came in the original container. Drop a plant in so that the top of the root ball is at the same level as the top of the surface of the compost. In hanging baskets and pots, 2 to 3 plants can be used and planted in groups. Backfill with the growing media, ensuring that no gaps remain by filling with more compost. Firm the plant in and water well.
PLACE THE PLANT IN FULL SUN
Place the container in full sun or partial shade where the flowers can act as an edging plant. They tend to look well next to brick steps or the side of stone walls. Water when the compost is too dry but avoid too much moisture that can be fatal to the plant.
They do not need much in the way of feeding but an annual dressing of a slow-release fertilizer in early spring will help. The plant will not need to be deadheaded regularly as at the end of the growing season, you will cut the straggly stems down.
The plant will spread slowly by rhizomatous roots and because of this every few years the plant will need to be divided to help maintain its vigour. This can be done in spring, where the plant may sulk for a few days before perking up.
PESTS AND DISEASES
By a large, Erigerons tend to be pests and diseases free but slugs and snails can be a problem for young plants. It is best to protect them by using slug pellets or wool deterrent mats to prevent your plant from being eaten. Another problem is that the plant can suffer from powdery mildew. This is best avoided by watering when the plants are too dry at the roots and by improving air circulation around the plant, Any fungal infection by powdery mildew can be treated by spraying with a suitable systemic fungicide.
As said earlier in heavy soil, the roots can rot especially if it is overly wet.
VARIETIES TO GROW
Erigeron glaucus ‘Sea Breeze’ produces lavender-pink, semi-double, daisy-like flowers with a yellow disk that are set against bluish-grey leaves. This is a plant tolerant of salty winds and therefore perfect for seaside gardens.
Erigeron karvinskianus ‘Lavender Lady’ is a new cultivar that produces larger, Lavender-pink flowers than other plants of the same species. ‘Profusion’ produces masses of tiny white, daisy-like flowers that darken to pink, giving a pretty two-tone effect in pots. ‘Stallone’ has flowers that open white that eventually turn pink and even purple.
Erigeron seciosus ‘Pink Jewel’ has masses of semi-double, bright, daisy-like pink flowers that appear in summer.
In this article, we have discussed how to grow Erigerons in containers to bring masses of flowers to containers in summer. They are easy to grow, easy to look after and do not even need deadheading. They look beautiful as well, so what is not too like.
If you have any questions or comments that you wish to make on growing Erigerons in containers, please do so in the comment box below.
Happy Erigeron growing.