'Fur Balls' - Gomphocarpus
This is a slender, deciduous shrub, often treated as an annual. Quick and easy to grow, producing stems of insignificant flowers that magically transform into unusual translucent, soft, spiny balloons. It adds fun to borders and cut flower arrangements.
Sow February to April on the surface of lightly firmed, moist seed compost in pots or trays. Lightly cover the seed with a sprinkle of fine grade vermiculite. Keep at a temperature of between 21-23C. After sowing, do not exclude light as this helps germination. Keep the surface of the compost moist but not waterlogged; until germination which usually takes 14-21 days. When large enough to handle, transplant seedlings into 7.5cm pots or trays. Gradually acclimatise plants to cooler conditions for a few weeks before planting out after all risk of frost 6cm apart. Pinch out the tops of plants after the fourth or fifth leaf stage to encourage the development of side shoots. For the best results, provide a well-drained soil in full sun.