Ageratum, also known as floss flower, is a beautiful annual that is excellent for boarders and edging of your garden. This half-hardy annual produces fluffy, long-lived flowers in blue, pink, white and bicolor such as blue-white. The ageratum grows in small compact mounds that are covered with clusters of flowers all summer long. The main species grows to a height over two feet but dwarf varieties that grow to a height of six inches are available. This article will discuss how to grow ageratum.
The ageratum can survive in a range of locations. It is native to Central America and Mexico but it can prosper from Florida all the way to Ohio. USDA ranges from Zone 5 to 10. However, the plant is done when the frost hits.
Locate ageratum in a sunny spot for the best results. The plant id a sun lover but those in Zones 8 or above should give the ageratum partial sun. The soil should be a well-drained and enriched with rotted manure of compost well ahead of planting. When using containers use multipurpose compost and ensure that there is good drainage.
Ageratum can be bought from most major nurseries or garden centers in cell packs of young plants or they can be started from seed. Seeds should be started indoors in 3.5 inch pots in February or March. Cover the pots and keep at 70 degrees Fahrenheit for about a week. Remove the cover when seedlings appear and move the plants to a cell tray with multipurpose compost when two leaves have been developed. Harden off the plant outside after the last frost. Tall varieties should be spaced at 12 to 16 inches apart and 4 to 6 inches apart for dwarf varieties.
In the summer months the ageratum needs water but be careful not to overwater. Overwatering can cause root rot. Fertilize the ageratum fortnightly to maintain strong growth or mix a long release fertilizer with the compost prior to planting. Spider mites and powdery mildew are the main problems for this plant. Most insect problems can be effectively treated with insecticidal soaps while fungicide can be used to treat disease problems.
The flowering season for ageratum lasts from early summer to the first frost. Remove flower heads or deadhead when flowers are spent to ensure continued bloom. The blooms are very fragrant and will attract bees and butterflies to your garden. You can also collect seeds from the plant by allowing the flowers to dry out on the plant. Once dry remove the flowers and collect the seeds.
As you can see, it is not a difficult assignment to grow ageratum. With the proper location, soil and light, water and fertilizer, as well as, watching out for the insects you will grow the most spectacular ageratum plants that will make your garden the envy of the neighborhood.