Can you grow too much of a good thing? Yes I think so. There are only so many plants you can accommodate in the garden, house or even through life. So as part of enjoying the growing aspect of gardening I have started to deliberately grow for giving plants away in this case Gloxinia.
Selecting the Gift
A plant in flower is far more attractive than one the recipient has to grow-on or wait to see how it looks.
A plant that still has lots of buds to open or develop will extend the pleasure. (See the latent buds on the next photo).
Presenting the present in an appropriate way is worth a bit of effort. I have been buying a range of bowls and plant pot holders from charity shops to act as containers. In many cases I can colour co-ordinate to match container and plant. Artistically minded may want to add a label or bespoke wrapping.
Not everyone believes the Gloxinia I am giving are houseplants so I should consider providing a bit more information.
Simple Advice For Gifted Gloxinia
Gloxinia like plenty of bright light without direct burning sun.
Turn the pot round so the plant and flowers develop evenly. They love to bend towards the light.
Water from the bottom when the compost is dry and the leaves are floppy. Err on the side of too little rather than too much water.
After flowering which may last 6-8 weeks, allow the plant to rest and die back.
Keep the dry tuber until next spring if you want to try to regrow your gift.
Tips on Growing Gloxinia
Tubers or corms may be found under the name Sinningia speciosa or Gloxinia and are part of the Gesneriaceae family that includes African Violets. They have been grown as florists gloxinia since being discovered in Brazil in 1815.
Plant shallowly in good compost with the buds facing upwards, this is usually the concave side like begonias.
Water the compost with warm water from the bottom to stop the tuber rotting and keep the atmosphere humid without getting the leaves or flowers wet or they will be stained with brown blotches.
If the furry leaves elongate it is a sign they need more light.
Do not expose to direct mid-day sun as the leaves are liable to become scorched.
Gloxinia like a temperature above 60º when in growth.
Plastic pots are fine but I add some grit or perlite to help avoid water logging.
Marketing of bulbs starts earlier and earlier and this July saw some multiple chains offering pre-packed bulbs for sale. It is all very well getting ahead of the game so you get the varieties you want.
I belatedly have come to the conclusion that you get a better result and thus value for money from a specialist grower or retailer. Choice of variety, size and bulb condition are generally better as they have a reputation to protect.
Beware how you store bulbs as they can dry out (but they will also dry out in store if left hanging on one of those POS units.) If you store tulips in humid conditions they may sprout early or get mildew.
Normally I try and plant my Tulips by the end of December but this year I am a bit late. Still Tulips have a great capacity to catch up before April when they flower.
I have not been successful planting tulips in pots but I shall keep trying. Perhaps deeper in long toms is the answer; I will let you know.
Monte Carlo a double yellow only 12 ” tall. They have an AGM and are reputed to be fragrant.
Apricot Parrot has feathered bicoloured petals. There is a bit of green on the outer petals with red and apricot shades on the inner petals. These Tulips are about 22″ tall
Another lower growing Tulip Greigii called Queen Ingrid at 14″ caught my eye with red petals edged in white
Bulbs varied in size from 10-13cm. I have planted most in pots that I can bury in the ground where there is a gap and take up quickly after flowering.
The late season flowering of Cyclamen is just one of the reasons to grow these useful flowers. There are many species of Cyclamen and below is a special selection for Autumn and Winter flowering.
C. coum is widely grown in the United Kingdom and there are many colours and leaf forms. Whites and pink flowers predominate but bright red varieties are available.
C.libanoticum is often grown in pots to flower January – April. It can withstand severe cold but dislikes wet soil.
C. persicum is tender and forms the stock for many florists Cyclamen. The flowers are generally held high above the leaves.
C. hederifolium flowers pink a bit earlier than some varieties. Leaves appear after flowering. Plants are best sited under shade as provided by a deciduous tree. The underside of the leaves are red coloured.
Other winter flowering species include C. pseudibericum and C. trochopteranthum a horizontal growing variety.
Bulbs that are stored over winter can be susceptible to rot and fungus. To avoid problems check them regularly and remove and destroy any that are effected.
Ornamental bulbs, tubers and corms that may be affected include begonias, gladioli, tulips and dahlias. Edible crops that can be affected include potatoes, onions and garlic. You will know about rot when you smell some of these .
After the ‘Lord Mayors Parade’ gardeners get the manure. After the snow and sometimes during the snow gardeners get the Glory of the Snow or at least the glory of Scilla.
To have a display that looks like a professional start 3 years ago.
To have a garden that looks like Kew start 30+ years ago.
I like to grow bulbs in the garden but am often put to shame by other displays. I sometimes wonder ‘Why Don’t My Scilla Look Like This?’ but then realise that comparing your garden to Kew garden or international locations means you are on a hiding to nothing.
Naturalising means bulbs growing and seeding as they would in the wild; i.e. “in nature”. In some gardens this means growing bulbs in grass instead of borders.
To naturalize bulbs they need to be planted where they can remain undisturbed without the need for the foliage to be prematurely removed. Leaves need to die back for about six weeks after the flowers have faded.
Growing Bulbs in Grass
Crocus will thrive for years if planted in grass with a dry or fast draining soil. If the lawn is lush and gets lots of high nitrogen fertilizer it will stunt the flowering process of the bulbs. You’ll get lots of foliage but no flowers.
Plant in groups or clusters so you can mow the other area.
You need to be patient as a bulb seedling will take 5-7 years before it has built up reserves to flower. Above all do not deadhead the flowers so they can seed a couple of months after flowering.
Reliable flowering can be expected from summer bulbs and tubers. Early Summer Flowering
Alliums flower May-July, I like those that look like a burst of stars
Anemone start in April with the woodland varieties then come the blousy De Caen and larger corm types through summer
Dutch Iris look good for a short while in midsummer but I find I get poor results in containers.