Common names: Butterfly flower and Poor man's Orchid.
This colourful half hardy annual with its fern like foliage is related to the petunia, and is a native of Chile.
It can be grown as either an indoor spring flowering pot plant, or as a border plant.
The many coloured clusters of flowers resemble butterflies and orchids when fully open,hence the common name.
The flowers colour range is extensive, with base colours of pink, white, lavender, blue, gold, red, and magenta,and markings of similar colours.
They grow to around 300-400mm (12"-16") high, and flowers from June to October (outdoors) and early spring (indoors).
The flowers tend to tumble thus making them a useful subject for baskets and containers.
Sow the seeds intended for summer borders in pots/trays of seed compost and germinate at a temperature of 18°C (64°F).
Germination should take four or five days.
Prick out seedlings when large enough to handle into cell trays or 75mm (3") pots and gradually harden off in a cold frame until planting out time.
Plant out 200- 300mm (8"-12") apart in a sheltered sunny or partially shaded site, preferably in well drained soil enriched with organic matter.
Sow the seeds intended for indoor plants in pots/trays of seed compost and germinate at a temperature of 16°C (60°F).
Prick out seedlings when large enough to handle into 75mm (3") pots.
Pinch out the growing tips of young plants when they are 75mm (3") high, and also the side-shoots when they reach the same length, to encourage bushy branch formation.
Grow on outdoors in full light, but not direct sunlight, or in a cold frame until late autumn then fetch them indoors.
Pot up plants as required.