Archive | House & Greenhouse plants

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

Happy Christmas Cyclamen

Cool, dampish conditions ensure happy cyclamen plants from now until Christmas. Do not let them dry out in your centrally heated house. Nor should you put them in draft

cyclamen

Indoor Cyclamen persicum can provide a splash of colour when all else is white and drab. I bought two for a pound after Christmas and chose this one because the flowers had not started opening. The tightly twisted buds are now revealing a mottled petal with an interesting cerise colouring.

The other plant I have drowned with too much TLC but its flowers were already a bit blown. This Cyclamen is on gravel in the pot and I am taking greater care. When it finishes flowering I hope to grow the corm on then allow it to dry out in summer. It will be saved in the pot laid sideways and brought back into growth next winter.

Cyclamen
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Dendrobium the Wonder Genus of Orchids

There are over a thousand known species of Dendrobium and innumerable hybrids. This makes Dendrobium the second largest orchid genus in the world after Bulbophyllum.

Dendrobium cuthbertsonii
Dendrobium nagomi

Dendrobium rhodstictum
Dendrobium hibiki
Dendrobium griffithianum
Dendrobium bigibbum

Culture Tips.

  • Dendrobiums like their roots confined in small pots. for good drainage use bark, perlag and charcoal to make up an open mix which drains easily.
  • Repot when either the compost becomes acid and soggy or when the pot is full of roots.
  • Plants from the mountains of New Guinea like a little moss mixed with the bark or they can be grown on slabs of bark or tree fern on a mossy bed. Such slabs need daily misting for most of the year.
  • Over enthusiastic flowering of small dendrobiums can lead to a premature death.
  • Small dendrobiums sometimes benefit from a steady gentle air flow.
  • 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.
  • Moss loving species can be grouped as either Himalayan, Australian or New Guinea (including Singapore). They can be grown on chunks of bark or tree fern on a mossy bed.

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Tips From Gardeners to Flower Arrangers

10 Comments from Gardeners to Flower Arrangers

  1. Prior to collecting material get your gardener to spray an insecticide to prevent pollen beetle and other insects being imported.
  2. All flowers will last longer if a foxglove is included in the arrangement. If they are not desired or available make a tea by pouring boiling water on foxglove leaves. When cool use the liquid with water.
  3. For delphiniums and larkspur add sugar don’t bother with the old Wive’s idea of an old penny (give it to the gardener).
  4. For daffodils and narcissus add charcoal or camphor to the water and preferably keep them from other flowers.
  5. Topmost buds should be nipped from gladioli, snapdragons and delphiniums.
  6. Heathers without water will last for weeks in the house without withering or dropping needles.
  7. Many spring flowering shrubs will last longer if picked in bud rather than full flower and stood in hot water first. Try this with Forsythis, Wintersweet, Witch hazel and willows.
  8. If flowering shrubs must be used the whole shoot should be taken down to two buds above old wood.
  9. Leave enough leaf material for plants to regenerate.
  10. Old flowers may be about to set seed and will not last long in the arrangement.

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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’

Book Cover

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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