Care-free annuals: Gomphrena

Care-free annuals: Gomphrena

The gomphrena genus contains a wide variety of gorgeous blooms. Find the colour that’s perfect for your garden and add the touch it’s been missing.

Care-free annuals: Gomphrena
Care-free annuals: Gomphrena


Recognizable by their ball-like bloom clusters, gomphrena grows up to about 60 centimetres tall in rich shades of reds, oranges and purples. They’re perfect to use in hanging baskets or as edging plants and don’t take much care at all, with early summer the perfect time to introduce them into your garden.

1. Give it plenty of sun

Gomphrena plants love the sun, so plant it in an area of your garden where it’ll get maximum sunlight all day. While they can continue growing in partially shady conditions, you’ll notice the gomphrena won’t be blooming as much as it could be.

2. Almost any soil will do

The great thing about gomphrena is its versatility. It can easily adapt to a multitude of soil conditions, so you won’t have to worry too much about the acidity or alkalinity of the soil (but it does like a pH range of 5.8 to 6.2). Although it’s not the biggest plant available, it will need a planting depth of 30 to 45 centimetres. Make sure the soil is fairly-well drained in the spring and water it regularly so the roots are damp, never dry and never soggy.

3. Fertilize once a month

Although gomphrena is fairly versatile and easygoing, it’ll do much better if you apply 14-14-14 fertilizer to it about once a month. This type of fertilizer is well-balanced and slow-releasing and can provide just the extra boost your gomphrena needs to bloom to its full potential.

4. Just a little bit of water

There’s no set amount of water you should be giving your gomphrena, as you should just take its cue from the plant. Feel the top layer of soil. If it’s dry, water it just enough so that the root ball is wet. Check on it every day to ensure it’s getting the right amount of water.

5. Keeping it looking good

There are two ways to approach gomphrena maintenance: you can leave it to do its own thing, or you can trim and pinch it regularly to keep it in shape. Many gardeners prefer the latter so they can keep the plant looking tidy and colourfully-blooming.

All you have to do is trim it fully once in the spring, and then just pinch off branch tips and wilted blooms so new growth is stimulated. If you notice any diseases or fungi, snip off the whole branch to prevent it from spreading to the rest of the plant. And if the worst case scenario happens where the whole plant is infected, dig it out completely, root ball and all, so other nearby plants aren’t affected.

Gomphrena is a pretty easygoing annual to maintain in your garden and can provide many weeks of colourful joy.

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