Calceolaria slipper flower

Height: 20-30cm (8-12in)

Planting distance 25-30cm (10-12in)

Features: flowers summer to autumn

Soil: light, rich

Site: sheltered sun or partial shade

Type: half-hardy annual

The curious, kidney-shaped blooms of the slipper flower were favourites for formal bedding schemes in Victorian gardens.

Calceolaria integrifolia and its subsequent varieties can be grown outdoors, but they must be given a warm, sheltered spot, preferably at the base of a wall.

Their brightly coloured flowers, coming in a variety of yellows, reds or oranges, either plain or blotched, make a cheerful display among their pale, fresh green, wrinkled leaves. The flowers last from early summer until mid autumn.

Popular varieties:

The following are readily available varieties for growing outdoors.

‘Midas’ is an F1 hybrid with golden yellow blooms renowned for their long flowering season. The neat, bushy plants, which reach 30cm.

Calceolaria ‘Midas’ (12in) high, are suitable for growing in bedding schemes.

‘Sunset Mixed’, an F1 hybrid, produces an impressive display of pouch-like blooms in reds and oranges with yellow/red bi-colours. It may also be sown in summer for flowering in early summer the following year. The bushy plants reach a height of 23-30cm (9-12in).

‘Sunshine’ is a free-tlowering F1 hybrid bearing bright yellow flowers throughout the summer. It reaches 20-25cm (8-1 Oin) high and has a bushy, compact habit.

Cultivation

Sow the tiny seeds under glass in late winter – they require careful handling. Prick them off into boxes when they are large enough to handle. Do not exclude light, which assists germination. In late spring harden off in a cold frame, and then plant outdoors.

They will grow in ordinary garden soil, though the best results are achieved in light, rich soil. The site must be sheltered in sun or partial shade. You may need to support the taller varieties.

Pests and diseases: Aphids and slugs are sometimes troublesome.

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