Archive | House & Greenhouse plants

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

What Makes a Good Cut Flower

Alstromeria

A Gardener’s Perspective of ‘What makes a good cut flower’

  1. A flower that need little specialist care or treatment and is easy to harvest.
  2. Reblooming often and for a long season so it looks good even when left uncut.
  3. Grows quickly and true from seed.
  4. Can be forced, so it flowers when required.
  5. Satisfies the recipient for the least consumption of resources in time and space.

Tips to Help a Bouquet Last

  1. Choose flowers with firm petals or buds that sho colour that means they have developed enough feed to flower properly
  2. Fill your clean vase with lukewarm water, that will have less oxygen, to prevent air bubbles blocking the stem.
  3. Strip off leaves below the waterline
  4. Use flower food but not aspirin, bleach sugar or lemonade that encourage bacteria to breed
  5. Treat the flowers with respect, I changed after I stopped calling them a bunch of flowers

A Customer View Point of ‘What makes a good cut flower’

  1. Fragrance that is evocative, strong and distinctive.
  2. Colour or colour combinations that are appropriate. Rich and saturated or soft, contrasting or blendable
  3. Texture and proportion that can provide contrast of shape and form.Suitable length and flower aesthetics to match a display vessel.
  4. How long will it last in a vase or foam and will it need any special treatment or conditioning.
  5. Personal appeal or favourite reflecting a special association, event or season

To grow a generic mix of flowers for arrangements and bouquets check out Thompson & Morgan
A Retailers View of ‘What makes a good cut flower’

  1. Availability for a long period from a variety of suppliers.
  2. Lots of colour and sales Pizzaz
  3. Long life in Florists pre-sale and then in the home
  4. Profitable and able to generate repeat custom

According to Linda Beutler in ‘Garden to Vase’ the answer is not just ‘Mums’ ‘Glads’ and ‘Carns’

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Gardeners Tips to Condition and Extend Life by Plant

Dahlia
Euphorbia
Pittosporum
Alstroemeria
Fatsia Japonica
Corkscrew hazel
Phormium

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The North of England Horticultural Society.

Gladioli

The North of England Horticultural Society (NEHS) is over 106 year old and has been the premier gardening and horticultural charity supporting the north of England through out that time. It is independent of the RHS! The NEHS is not to be confused with Northern Horticultural society 1963-1988 or The Northern Horticultural society 1988 – 2009 which were subsumed along with Harlow Carr gardens by the RHS. Their magazine ‘Northern Gardener’ was replace by RHS publication The Garden.

Every spring and autumn the NEHS organise the Harrogate Flower Shows, widely regarded as the biggest and most prestigious independent shows in the gardening year. In autumn there are ‘shows within a show’ featuring displays by  20 different specialist groups. The autumn veg are fantastic, spring flowers are fine and the shows feature many retail opportunities to help with the charities funding.

 

Odd Facts about The North of England Horticultural Society

  • The Prince of Wales is the Patron and Jonathan Moseley is the current President 
  • Profits from the Harrogate Flower Shows Ltd are handed back to the NEHS, to enable the charity to continue its important work in promoting horticulture.
  • The NEHS   grant programme is aimed at community societies, friends groups and organisations committed to improving their local landscape. They also support those seeking to build a career in gardening and encouraging schools and colleges to become involved with horticulture through hands-on activity and development.
  • Over the years the Yorkshire thrift has seen an accumulation of  over £1m in investments with £1.3m reserves at the end on 2016.
  • The 2018 show is open 26th to 29th April from 9.30am to 5.30pm Thursday, Friday & Saturday; 4.30pm Sunday.
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Contorted Stems for Ikebana Flower Arranging

Winter Interest

Growing Corkscrew Hazel for Flower Arrangements

  • Corylus avellana Contorta is also known as Harry Lauders Walking Sticks or Corkscrew Hazel
  • It is a slow growing deciduous shrub that can grow to 20′ wide and 25′ high when mature.
  • Corkscrew Hazel looks best in winter and from February-March there are pendant male catkins on the bare branches.
  • Propagation is best done by layering branches.
  • When in leaf the mid green leaves give an ugly deformed appearance.

Corylus avellana 'Contorta'

Special Tips for Flower Arranging with Corkscrew Hazel

  • Use the twisted stems and bare twigs in winter arranging.
  • Twigs in bridal bouquets can add movement and interest.
  • Corkscrew Hazel are popular as a base for Ikebana
  • Catkins will gradually lengthen and become more yellow when kept in water for several weeks.
  • Twigs can be dried and used year after year. They can also be painted for Christmas.

Spring

A full array of books on Flower Arranging and related subjects is available from Amazon. You will find more advice and artistic inspiration amongst this selection.

Special Tips for Flower Arranging with Contorted Willow

  • I have included Contorted Willow with Corkscrew Hazel as the issues, effects, tips and methods are quite similar.
  • Twigs and stems can be dried and used several times or be sprinkled with glitter for Christmas.
  • The cut twigs will last several weeks and eventually the willow leaves will open on the stem.
  • Contorted Willow is available under several names including Salix matsudana Tortuosa (Salix babylonica tortuosa), Salix x erythroflexuosa or common names Dragons Claw and Tortured Willow.
  • Salix the Willow family are more vigourous than the Corylus Hazels

Contorted Willow
Credits
Ikebana by M. Martin Vicente CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ by Stadtkatze CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Spring by David Davies CC BY-SA 2.0
Contorted Willow by touring_fishman CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

To grow a generic mix of flowers for arrangements and bouquets check out Thompson & Morgan

Book Cover
Ikebana: The Art of Arranging Flowers by Shozo Sato and Kasen Yoshimura

Corkscrew Hazel and Contorted Willow are plants that both produce twigs that add movement and style when flower arranging. Mix with just one type of flower as less is generally more with Hazels and Willows.
Turn your arrangements into botanical works of art – here are some examples and clubs you could join.
Ikebana
Corylus avellana Contorta the Corkscrew Hazel aka Harry Lauder’s Walking Sick first discovered in 1863. Slow growing eventually reaching 20′ high and wide unless pruned for flower arrangements. Autumn cob nuts produced. Hazel catkins in spring. Cut twigs last well in water

 

  • willow leaves will lengthen. Catkins will open and yellow pollen will show
  • twigs can be dried by hanging upside down then used year after year.
  • twigs can be painted
  • use for christmas decorations, bridal bouquets
  • mix with flowers cut at different heights
  • Contorted Willow   Salix matsudana tortuosa aka S. babylonia var pekinensis, Dragons Claw, Tortured or Corkscrew Willow fast growing hardy deciduous tree
  • Salix x eryroflexuosa branches of rich chestnut colour and a ocher -yellow trunk – also hardy
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Sunflower Insects Van Gough Missed

No flies on Van Gogh

Van Gogh walks in to a florists ‘Hi Van, can I get you a sunflower?’
‘No, thanks, I got one ear.’

Vincent’s fruit loving cousin, Man Gogh

“What does the letter “A” have in common with a sunflower?
They both have bees coming after them.”

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Quick Facts about Allium christophii

Allium christophii, common name Star of Persia or Persian onion. Perhaps they have dropped the religious ‘h’  to become Allium cristophii as a nod to the Iranian roots.

Three Quick Facts about Allium christophii

  1. The clusters of ‘stary’ flowers look good in a vase, dry beautifully and hold their form for years.
  2. This allium is attractive to butterflies but not pests.
  3. Grow your own Allium christophii, by collecting seed sowing them when just ripe or  remove offsets in autumn. You get three seed capsules from each star flower.

 

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Hibiscus senensis

The flamboyant Hibiscus senensis is now readily available as a housplant from garden centres. This yellow flower was growing on an Italian road side.

In a conservatory this evergreen is a neat rounded shrub. Good drainage and light are required for good flowering but plants can have a very long life.

If you want to know more about the species of Hibiscus you could do worse than read a book ‘Hibiscus Hardy and Tropical Plants for the Garden’ by Barbara Taylor Lawton extracts of which can be found here.

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Growing Excellent Auriculas

This spring has been a good one for my Auriculas. I have been please with a powder blue flower that I hope to propagate by division in July. First I will water well and add some dilute feed.

alpine-auricula

These Alpine Auriculas look excellent  when grown in 3 inch pots. The ‘Long Tom’ pots are silghtly taller than the traditional pot and are useful as Auricula tend to grow a ‘carrot root’ used to anchor the plant in the wild. Alpine Auriculas have either a golden yellow or cream centre surrounding the tube.

Show Auriculas are considered to be the star Auricula plants and must have a ring of dense Farina around the eye of the flower. Selfs (all one colour) and Edges including most stripes have an outside edge composed of leaf tissue such as the ‘Orlando’ a grey edged show Auricula. Green edges usually have larger flowers. Stripes have recently been reintroduced with Monmouth Star having red petals with yellow rays out to the flowers edge.

Double Auricula ‘Sibsey‘  is a blue to purple flower and can be found at Specialist grower Angus Auriculas. Doubles arise from mutations of border or garden Auriculas and were amongst the first novelties cultivated and shown. There is now an increasing number of doubles including striped doubles at NAPS shows.  The Fantasia variety is deep maroon with white frosting a real eye-catcher

auricula-2

Border or Garden Auriculas have old names like Dusty Miller, Recklasses and Ricklers. Only a few  have ‘Farina’ the white powder found on leaves and flowers that resembles flour or meal which is a must on Show Auriculas.  Some are European primula hybrids and occasional are scented. Best grown in a position that gives them shade from midday sun. Water in very dry spells but plant in well drained soil. Ideal for partially shaded positions on rockeries or borders, or spring flower beds, pots, tubs

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Streptocarpus Care and Propagation Tips

Windowsill orchids are a houseplant favourite and I repeat and update some tips given 3 years ago.
Streptocarpus

Plant care tips from Dibleys National Collection

  • Always cut off dead flowers.
  • Excessive or incorrect feed and poor light make the plants produce very large leaves and few flowers.
  • It is quite natural as plants age for the old leaves to die back, and the ends should be trimmed off, especially in winter.
  • In March or April gradually start watering more often and commence feeding.
  • Do not over-pot you will get more flower by keeping on the pot bound side. Using half of three quarter depth pots is a good idea.
  • Given this treatment you will be rewarded by a continuous display of flowers from about May until well into winter.
  • You will also find the flowers are good for cutting.
  • Shallow pots are recommended but I find the roots quickly mat up and become hard to water.
  • I have taken to only using clay pots (Wide Toms)
  • Start with AGM varieties.
  • Dibleys attend a large number of plant & flower shows where plants can be bought.

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Tips for Growing Hibiscus Indoors

Buying tips for indoor Hibiscus. Smaller plants with3-5 branches each with buds are generally the best value. If they loose there buds new ones should soon follow. Look at florists and chain stores as well and garden centres.

Hibiscus
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

Hibiscus is a large genus of over 200 species. One species Hibiscus cannabinus, is extensively used in paper making. Another, roselle Hibiscus sabdariffa is used as a vegetable and to make herbal teas in the Caribbean but it is as an extravagantly coloured flower that we know it best.

If your hibiscus has flowers of red, pink, orange, yellow, salmon, peach, orange, or two coloured double or single flowers, it is probably a tropical hibiscus. Hardy hibiscus do not come in these colors or in doubles! If it is a perennial, hardy hibiscus they need very little care over the winter, they are root hardy and die to the ground each year.

Hibiscus

Houseplants and Indoor Hibiscus

  • Chinese Hibiscus are shrubby plants that make fine indoor exhibitions if given plenty of light.
  • Bought plants will have been treated to keep them small and compact. You can prune them to keep in shape.
  • Short lived, trumpet shaped flowers are available in many colours and there is a regular supply of new buds.
  • Keep in a constant temperature to avoid bud drop.
  • Don’t over-water, keep on the dry side but water copiously in summer.

Look at Thompson & Morgan for more ideas.

Hibiscus

Cultivation Tips for Hibiscus

  • Most hibiscus have a few yellow leaves when they get old and need replacing. If your plant too has many yellow leaves it is stressed probably from over watering.
  • Hibiscus want loamy, coarse open soil that is not too heavy.
  • For prolific flowering, hibiscus need weekly feedings during March-October. Low phosphorus and high potassium feed is best.
  • Repotting is usually carried out in spring if you can see roots poking out of the bottom of the pot or if they are filling the pot.

Hibiscus

Recommended Hibiscus Organisations

The American Hibiscus Society lists the following links

Hibisucus genevii in the Princess of Wales Conservatory
See the endangered hibiscus ‘hibiscus genevii flowering during May in the Princess of Wales Conservatory Kew. In the wild it is only found in small numbers in specific areas of Mauritius.’

Credits
Hibisucus genevii in the Princess of Wales Conservatory by Kew on Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Book Cover

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