Archive | House & Greenhouse plants

Tips on growing indoor plants, conservator, windowsill and greenhouse cultivation

Anisodontea False Mallow

anisodontea

I saw these pot plants in our local garden centre and inspired by the prolific flowers wondered what they were. They are called the African Mallow Anisodontea capensis and I can see the resemblance.
According to the BBC site ‘The name might be unfamiliar, but this prolific South African plant has been grown for over a century in this country as a tender perennial pot plant. It flowers continuously through the summer into autumn, the hibiscus-like blooms varying in colour from light pink to deep magenta. The evergreen leaves are small and bright green. It needs to be overwintered under glass, but may survive winter outside in very mild, sheltered areas. May be propagated by seed in spring or by semi-ripe cuttings in late summer.’

I came across Anisodontea scabrosa, Anisodontea hypomadarum and Anisodontea capensis as varieties and I think it is a plant we will hear a lot more about as fashion and climate change impact. At the moment they are imported and I would prefer to see them grown in the UK before buying one for my own use.

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Orchid Dendrobium Culture Tips

dendrobium-polar-fire

There are over a thousand known species of Dendrobium and more are being discovered. This makes them the second largest orchid genus in the world after Bulbophyllum.
Nobile or Asiatic Dendrobiums like this example of Polar Fire are some of the easiest to grow but can be a little difficult to bloom regularly. If you do not dry and cool the plants during winter, you won’t get flowers. The flowers are showy with colours ranging from white through pink to purple, and the lip is often beautifully marked in contrasting colours. They make magnificent specimen plants.

Culture Tips.

  • In winter temperatures can drop to 40°C  when you should not water or feed but give plenty of light and air movement. Buds develop in spring and new growths appear. Water sparingly until the new shoots have grown good roots then feed weekly during maximum growth.
  • Free draining potting mixes should always be used containing coarse bark perlite, sphagnum moss and even small pebbles if a little weight is needed.
  • Propagation is by division of the larger clump when it has filled the pot. Some Dendrobiums produce offsets. Generally they do not like any root disturbance.
  • Australian species and hybrids include the ‘Rock Lily’ flowers last only 3-4 weeks but Dendrobium bigibbum is often grow for cut flowers
  • Dendrobium like plenty of bright filtered sunlight but avoid direct sunlight that may scorch the leaves. They can be difficult to re-flower if they do not receive sufficient light.
  • Never allow plants to stand in water as it may rot the roots.

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Honesty Seedheads & Flowers

everlasting-flower

Honesty also called Lunaria annua has beautiful purple flowers in April and May that are one of the few early nectar attractions for butterflies. In spite of it’s Latin name, Honesty is actually a biennial putting down a long tap root in it’s first year. This is why you seldom see it for sale in garden centres.

Gardeners Tips Growing Honesty

  • Honesty will also grow in shade and the seed heads make a great Autumn and Winter attraction as the coin shaped seed heads shed an outer skin and become luminous white moon shapes like tracing paper.
  • The growth is stiff and entirely self-supporting, a central stem branching out freely and bearing abundance of small flowers like Wallflowers.
  • Honesty should be massed with say a dozen plants in a group to give the best effect. The white variety is well worth growing, the colour being very pure and luminous in quality but purple is the main colour.
  • Honesty self sows quite freely and young seedlings can be transplanted with care being take of the tap root. Collect the seeds in October as the husks are shed but leave the papery head.
  • Seed heads can be cut, hung to dry in Autumn and used as dried flowers in floral arrangements. They look good with Christmas arrangements.
  • Most are anything but nondescript, and there are some strains with richly coloured flowers of a vibrant deep purple with a hint of magenta.
  • Lunaria annua is a biennial belonging to the brassica  family and will grow in most soil, if it looks unhappy try a bit of lime. When it is happy, which is most of the time since it generally chooses for itself where to live, it can develop into a robust, branching plant, 2ft tall and 1.5ft across.
  • Unfortunately it has no scent. Although a biennial, with each plant living only two years, when it is established it will go on forever, becoming a feature of the late spring garden. When left to its own devices it often turns up in unexpected places.
  • There is a perennial honesty Lunaria rediviva that is an exceptionally beautiful plant. It has a simple grace with yard-high stems clothed in similar fresh green heart-shaped leaves. Its cross-shaped flowers are pale lavender and sweetly scented.
  • Honesty develops thick storage roots, almost like tubers, and, in common with other brassicas, has deep tap roots.
  • Avoid overfeeding and do not use manure Honesty does best without pampering.

Read Honesty is the best policy

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Hydrangea Houseplants

pink-hydrangea

Hydrangeas make good houseplants flowering in spring from a shop bought plant. Hydrangea have been successfully grown as blooming house plants for many years. They are colourful full of flower and relatively trouble free if you give them a good drink of water regularly. Keep plants cool between 50-60 ° F when in flower but give them some good light.

Indoor Hydrangea Tips

  • Buy a new plant each year and plant the old one in the garden when it has finished flowering. It may not be hardy enough to survive but getting it to reflower indoors will mean you have to emulate the seasonal conditions it would expect in the wild.
  • To buy a good hydrangea for indoors look for a plant with just a few blooms showing color and lots of buds still developing. The plant should fill out the pot with healthy dark green leaves.

hydrangea-buds Continue Reading →

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Iris Reticulata and Histroides Species

Flowers

Whilst these Iris bulbs are grown in a gravel topped bed Reticulata make great pot plants for an alpine house. Flowering in February many varieties have deep purple or violet flowers with conspicuous yellow blotches on lower petals or falls.

  • If you have relatives called Joyce, Gordon, Natasha, Pauline, George or Katherine Hodgkin there is an Iris bulb named after them.
  • Iris Reticulata Cantab is a cobalt blue with a small orange tongue and a most striking colour worthy of close inspection. Whilst Iris Histroides Katherine Hodgkin is a light blue with distinctive marking.
  • Gently force batches of early bulbs by bringing pots of them into a cool greenhouse. When the flower buds begin to colour up, you can bring the bowls into the house.

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Uses for Echevaria

Succulents often have neat attractive leaf forms. The range of rosettes available in the Echevaria group include red tipped points to the leaves and tight groups of offsets as they multiply. This leads to a common name of ‘Hens and Chickens’.

Where to Grow Echeveria

  • This specimen was part of a row at the front of a formal border.
  • They can be grown with success in old sinks or pots, both indoors and outdoors. Ensure it is well drained and never stands in water.
  • In rockeries or alpine gardens surrounded by gravel these plants can colonise neat areas and suppress weeds.
  • As greenhouse or indoor pot plants they flower with interesting spikes. Again keep them quite dry.
  • They make an interesting collection with enough variety to a maintain interest.

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