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Perennial herbaceous plant native to Central America, cultivated as an annual, the bidens has thin stems, green in color, with a prostrate growth habit, very branched, which reach 40-50 cm in length. The leaves of this plant are palmate, very divided, of a bright green color, sometimes slightly pubescent and of greyish-green color.
From late spring to the first cold i bidens produce a cascade of flowers with five petals, star-shaped, with golden yellow petals; often the stems tend to root at the nodes, giving rise to loosening tufts, not very compact. THE bidens they are widely cultivated in planters, often next to geraniums.
Removing the withered flowers favors a more abundant and prolonged flowering; at the end of flowering it is possible to notice the small fruits, of achenes with beards that firmly attach themselves to clothes; to favor a more compact development it is advisable to trim the stems at the beginning of spring.
These plants need to be planted in full sun, they can develop without problems even in the partial shade; it is fundamental that the plant receives direct sunlight for a few hours of the day. Generally, the plant dies when colds arrive. With the arrival of autumn, in fact, it begins to decay. If you want, you can keep it in a cold greenhouse and expose it again once spring, even if new plants give better results every year.
These small plants easily withstand short periods of drought but it is advisable to water them regularly, especially in the hottest months of the year, waiting for the soil to be well dry between one watering and another; otherwise you could incur water stagnation, which is harmful to the plant due to possible rot. From March to September it is advisable to supply fertilizer for flowering plants every 8-10 days, mixed with the water used for watering.
The bidens prefer rich, loose and well-drained soils, but grow harmoniously in any soil; to take advantage of the prostrate habit in the best way, it is advisable to place it in hanging pots.
The reproduction takes place by seed, possibly already in January, in a warm bed, to obtain the flowering starting from March-April; in late spring it is possible to sow directly at home, the flowering will start from June. By preserving the plants in a cold greenhouse for the winter to spring it will be possible to propagate them by dividing the clumps.
Bidens: Pests and diseases
Generally the bidens are not affected by pests or diseases. However, excessive moisture could lead to the development of fungal diseases. In this case it will be appropriate to use specific fungicide products to eradicate the problem. Another problem concerns the attack of aphids, insects defined as plant lice and capable of sucking the sap of our bidens seedlings. Aphids damage leaves and flowers, making them dry and weakening our crops. To solve the problem, wash the plant with a spungna; In extreme cases, buy specific insecticides for aphids.