Archive | Tips for Growing Series

Help with growing popular and interesting flowers and plants. Simple, easy guidelines for growing good plants.

Growing Towards the Light

Teasel seedheads

 

Light Affecting Growth

  • Some plants do not require high levels of light for growth, because they are adapted to low light conditions (such as jungle and forest plants).
  • Plants left in the dark will grow taller than plants in lighted conditions  but they will also be yellower and more spindly.
  • Increased height is often a response to low light levels – the plant is trying to grow over anything that may be blocking the light, and will grow towards any source of light.
  • Etiolation is an extreme form of photosynthesis, and it occurs when you keep a plant in the dark too long.
  • When a plant is blown down, like this teasel, its efforts to regrow will produce distorted stems or branches.
  • Plants on a windowsill may grow only one one side, towards the light, unless turned frequently. (I must turn my pelargoniums again this afternoon).
  • Seedlings need good, even light as a spindly plant many not recover. Beware sun through a window can burn seedlings.
  • Too little light and leaves may brown and drop off.
  • Blue daylight bulbs are the best if natural light is unavailable.

For more details read science for schools

Etiolation is a process in flowering plants grown in partial or complete absence of light. It is characterized by long, weak stems; smaller leaves and often pale yellow coloring. 

Blanching is the exclusion of light to prevent greening up of Celery Leeks and other plants

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Grow Healthy Hydrangeas

Hydrangea

There are several types of Hydrangea to consider. The Mop Heads or Hortensia above, the lace caps or other species. They are a rewarding group of plants to grow well but need the right conditions to excel.

Provide Suitable Growing Conditions

  • All hydrangeas thrive in moist well drained fertile soil.
  • Too wet and humid and you may get root rot and botrytis on foliage.
  • Hydrangeas appreciate partial shade.
  • Shallow chalky soil or light sandy acid soil may cause yellowing of leaves. To cure this water or foliar feed with Epsom salt (Mangenisum Sulphate).
  • Hot dry conditions can encourage powdery mildew.
  • Hydrangeas can be prone to insect attack from Aphids, Red Spider mite, Capsid bugs and even Vine Weevil.

 

Hydrangea

                                                       Lacecap

Flowering Problems

  • The main cause of non-flowering is pruning too hard and cutting off the buds. Just trim off the old heads in spring to the first fat buds.
  • The failure of flowers to turn blue is caused by a shortage of trace elements of Aluminium. This is available in acid soils but not alkaline soils.
  • Some species will change from pink to blue by using a proprietary preparation or colourant. This is unlikely to work when the soil is too alkaline.
  • If you have a pink flower this can be enhanced by applying limestone or chalk during winter.
  • White flowers remain white whatever you do. Some fade to a pink tinge.

8 foot hydrangea

 

Other Sources of information

Hydrangeas available from Thompson & Morgan

See Help to change Hydrangea colour
Hydrangea Hydrangea an enthusiasts site

Amazon for Hydrangea books

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More Phalaenopsis Moth Orchids

It is easier to call a Phalaenopsis by its common name of Moth Orchid

This moth orchid (called Phalaenopsis) is blooming for a second time this year and the last blossom lasted over 5 months. On one arching stem there are 12 flowerheads and one unopened bud but there is also 4 other stems at different stages of flower production and at least 25  2½” diameter flowers are currently on display. This floriferousness may be due to a happy accident after the first (and only) stem flowered I followed received wisdom. I trimmed off the spike to around 1 inch above the first node on the spike stem, somewhere below where the first flower had appeared, near a little bump. The stem regrew but horizontally and I wanted to tie it up a cane. Being too vigorous I broke the new flowering stem but all the new ones have turned up at the funeral so to speak.

Book Cover
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Growing and Recognising Arisaema sikokianum

Arisaema sikokianum

Arisaema sikokianum is a herbaceous perennial plant with vertically patterned  flowers.

Characteristics

  • In an alpine house or garden it flowers in springtime upto 18″ tall.
  • It can be planted with shade-loving hostas and Bleeding hearts.
  • They need neutral to acid soil in a moist, well-draining, protected location in dappled shade to flourish.
  • Seeds have a low rate of germination, and take a very long while to get going. Harvested in December & store at room temperature for one month, then planted in shady situations.

Other names for Arisaema sikokianum include Shikoku cobra lily, Gaudy Jack or Japanese Jack-in-the-Pulpit.
Arisaema sikokianum is one of 150 species and an unusual woodland plant noted for its unmistakable smoky-purple base, white cup and large hood with purple, green and white stripes.

There is a specialist international society for Aroids or Arum family plants with Arisaema links.

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Ideas Growing Hostas

hosta

Facts about Hostas

  • Hostas are attractive foliage plants that prosper in the shade from spring to the first frost.
  • Hosta varieties vary in height from the Blue Angel at 4 feet to  Thumb Nail at 4 inches.
  • Blue green and yellow leaved hosts all like water and the yellow & gold leaved varieties will stand more sunshine like Sun Power .
  • Varied textures are available from smooth, crinkled, puckered and leathery all  to tempt you.
  • Hostas do not seem to die of old age and require minimum maintenance.
  • Continue Reading →
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Tips for Growing Giant Vegetables

Book Cover

This is one of the many books in my collection but the only one to focus on growing big, bigger and biggest vegetables. If you want to grow giant vegetable for exhibition or to get large crops then there are many pointers in ‘How to Grow Giant Vegetables’ by Bernard Lavery and below.

If you want to see 14 feet long carrots or parsnips, the 28 pound radish or the monster cabbage weighing 120lbs then encouragement to join the monster vegetables growing movement may be our gardeners tip for you in 2011.

Starting with Giant Vegetables

  • A good big one will beat a good small one and that applies to seed so consider what you sow. Good genetic potential will grow good plants.
  • Pumpkins are a good starter vegetable as a heavy weight can be achieved in the first year. It is also fun to see them grow by inches every day.
  • You need to learn by experience so you improve growing conditions, feeding and watering based on your own observations.

Large Crops from a Small Garden

  • Harvested whilst still in peak growing condition, giant vegetables taste every bit as good as smaller varieties.
  • Continue Reading →
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Lobelia Russian Princess Perennials

Growing Tips

  • Plant in deep fertile soil which is reliably moist in summer.(You can tell this is moist by the moss)
  • Lobelia grow well in sun or partial shade.
  • Some varieties are a bit short lived 3-4 years but as they are so spectacular it is worth splitting clumps or taking cuttings to get re-energised plants at least in alternate years.
  • Perennial Lobelia species make good herbaceous border plants

Lobelia to Grow

  • Lobelia Cardinalis has deep burgundy foliage and rich pinky purple or red flowers for hot coloured planting schemes. RHS is currently offering Russian Princess variety at £15 +  p&p (so the colours need to be rich).
  • A three foot high Lobelia x speciosa Vedraniensis flowers with the traditional 5 lobed blue-indigo flowers.
  • Hadspen Purple is a more compact variety that need to be planted in swathes for best effect.
  • Lobelia tupa has beautifully felted leaves and narrow tubular brick-red to orange flowers which are borne from mid summer on long racemes. It is also called the Devil’s Tobacco.

With hundreds of species, varieties and named cultivars the Lobelia family is large and wide ranging – have a look at the family for yourself.

Other Resources

Royal Horticultural Society RHS ‘Gardening for All’
National Council for Conservation of Plants and Gardens ‘Conservation through Cultivation.’
Garden Organic National Charity for Organic Gardening.
BBC Gardening

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Fuchsia from Cuttings in Autumn

Louise

Fuchsias root very easily and it a simple matter to take cuttings both to increase your stock of plants and to protect them from winter losses.

Cuttings in September & October from Semi-hardwood.

  • I think this is the best method for those without a heated greenhouse.
  • Cuttings are taken late in the season when the bark has started to harden and ripen.
  • Select side shoots 6-10″ long and pull them off with a heel. A heel is a bit of the main stem attached to the base of the cutting.
  • Insert the cutting with 4-5 others in a 4″ pot
  • If growing several pots of cuttings plunge the pots into a tray of sand to keep them evenly moist and frost free.

Summer Cuttings from Green Tips

  • Select cuttings 3″ long with two or three pairs of leaves.
  • Cut the shoot just below the point where the lowest leaves join the stem. Trim off the 2 lower leaves and pot 2″ apart.
  • If taken in July, pot on the rooted cutting before winter. Do not worry if they loose there leaves in winter they will regrow from February.

Spring Green Tip Cuttings

  • Similar to summer cuttings they should be treated in the same way.
  • Pot on as soon as rooted in about 2-4 weeks.
  • Keep in gentle heat, shade from sun and gradually ventilate.
  • Stop the plants at 4 pairs of leaves to get bushy growth and flowers from June and the rest of summer.

Short Tip Cuttings in Heat January – March

  • This is the method used by our local nursery.
  • Overwintered plants are pruned by removing all green shoots. Then syringed with tepid water once a day to induce dormant buds on the old wood to shoot.
  • When new shoots have 3 pairs of leaves take the cutting leaving one pair of leaves behind.
  • Pot in a 3″ pot with 2-3 other cuttings and place in a propagator.
  • After rooting 10-14 days very gradually allow air to circulate.

London 2000

More Fuchsia Cutting Tips

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Growing Convolvulus Cneorum

Madiera mch11 220

Convolvulus is synonymous with bindweed that grows in poor soil and is notably hard to eradicate. However there are some species of Convovulus that are worth a space in a Mediterranean style garden.

Convolvulus cneorum is a compact evergreen shrub with narrow, oblong, silvery leaves. The numerous flowers are funnel-shaped white flushed with pink when in bud.
Grow in well-drained soil or gritty compost in a sheltered spot in full sun.
The plants are not frost hardy.

Convolvulus White Ensign (Flash Seeds) is a dwarf Morning Glory with clusters of white, trumpet flowers with yellow centres!

Convolvulus Eneorum will withstand a north facing or east facing wall but also dislikes heavy frost. The grey leaved shrubs can grow to 3 foot high and wide.

Resources

Organic Control of Bindweed

Weedkillers for Bindweed

Book Cover

Roundup Weedkiller concentrate

Book Cover

Handy spray gun,

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Tips for Growing Ipomea – Morning Glory

ipomea

Ipomea indica the blue form of Morning Glory is a cool clear blue, a startling colour in the garden. As you would expect from a member of the Convolvulous clan it is a strong twisting and binding climber.

Uses of Morning Glory

  • The plant was originally used to produce cloth die.
  • The seeds should not be eaten as they produce hallucinations
  • In the garden they are very good for screening walls and ugly sites during summer.
  • They do not last as cut flowers.

Morning glory
Growing Ipomea Morning Glory.

  • Grow from seed and collect your own seed for next year.
  • Pick off dead leaves.
  • Try some of the other colours including rose and red plants.
  • Do not allow white Convolulous to grow as it spreads and throttles other plants

ipomea

  • Thompson & Morgan search for Morning Glory seeds and plants
  • Morning Glory ‘Carnevale di Venezia’ Ipomoea purpurea, Convolvulus purpureus,
  • A half-hardy annual which climbs to 6′ tall and flowers through summer with striped blue and pink blooms with intricate markings.

Credits
Morning glory by Arenamontanus CC BY 2.0

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