We gardeners hopefully learn as we go along and this post is an update of a 6 year old report on indoor primulas.
‘Indoor plants that are in full flower in January include the strongly coloured Primula Obconica shown above. They look good in traditional blues, pinks and white with the new Twilly series including a strong red. There are plenty of long lasting blooms particularly if you pick off dead flowers. The hairs on the back of leaves can be an irritant so take care if you have sensitive skin, the plant is also known as Poison Primrose.
Plants at garden centers may have been grown specifically for a quick show of colour that makes them saleable and decorative as indoor plants. They are probably not frost free or very hardy.
Unlike other Primula obconica varieties, Twilly Touch Me is primine free, so causes no skin irritation.
Grown from seed give them dark to germinate. They flower the following spring/summer in the cool greenhouse or as a houseplant.
Primula obconica produce a dozen different colours of flowers.
The flowers last for several weeks if spent flowers are deadheaded regularly.
Do not let the plants dry out and the leaves become floppy.
Other species of Indoor Primulas include Primula malacoides a perennial plant for a heated greenhouse or conservatory. Also known as the Fairy primrose it is NOT hardy.
Primula sinensis the Chinese Primrose aka Primula praenitens is hard to obtain but the flowers look stunning so it is worth looking for.
Showing the soft fleshy leaves of ‘Twill Touch Me Series’ of Indoor Primula obconica. The Primula stem holds the flowers proud of the leaves.’
I have flirted with geraniums for several decades but never achieved the full satisfaction of a great display. Now I have a new plan to dedicate an area in the garden, dare I call it a zone? to some of these colourful plants. To give me an incentive to dedicate time and effort I have given it a name Pelargonia as I thought Geraniumistan was going to confuse the issue with cranesbill geranium or hardy geraniums.
As you can see from the search link I have blogged on 67 occasions about pelargoniums and geraniums over the Gardeners Tips years.
Frost Tender Pelargoniums
After several good years I got careless one weekend and lost some good growth and suffered several set backs after an air frost. A similar event took place 6 years ago and that was at the beginning of June.
Remember if your pelargonium stems get frosted then the plant will die and not recover!
In the North of England there can be frosts late in May and early June. In Scotland and on high ground keep your thermometer handy whenever frost is threatened.
My flikr selection -hover & press the arrow
Zonal geraniums are more accurately called ‘Pelargoniums’. The zonal is named for the distinct bands of colour around the leaf. On the example below 3 distinct shades are obvious even in a black and white image. These distinctive colours and patterns are quite sought after and some varieties are grown for the leaf shade alone.
Pelargonium House Plants
If you are worried about frost, geraniums make fine house plants. They can be kept in flower throughout the year and the flowers can be picked for a small vase. If you time it right when several ‘pips’ are showing full colour they can last a couple of weeks as the other pips keep opening.
Regular weekly feeding of high potash feed with an occasional nitrogen booster will grow a substantial specimen.
Pinch out the growing tip in April and June to get bushy plants with more flowers.
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.
Schefflera arboricola, known as the “dwarf umbrella tree,” has small green leaflets attached to stout petioles. Indoors it will have a mature height of 3 to 4 feet.
Schefflera arebold make good individual plants as indoor specimens in large decorative containers. The palmate leaves have 5 to 9 finger leaves from a central stalk.
Schefflera actinophylla can grow to heights of 8 to 10 feet inside and up to 40 feet outside in very warm climates. As well as being called the ‘octopus plant’ it also shares the common name of umbrella plant. For a 4th name it is sometimes botanically named Brassiaia actinophylla.
Where to Grow Schefflera Indoor Umbrellas
To keep the umbrella tree happy reasonable warmth of 15-20 degrees C is best.
Through winter the temperature should be at least 10-13 degrees C
A lightly shaded location is best. Bi-coloured leaves look best with some sun.
Avoid very sunny or dark locations.
Use a robust potting mix containing some loam to feed the plant for a number of years. Fertilise in summer during growth.
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
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.
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.
Prior to collecting material get your gardener to spray an insecticide to prevent pollen beetle and other insects being imported.
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.
For delphiniums and larkspur add sugar don’t bother with the old Wive’s idea of an old penny (give it to the gardener).
For daffodils and narcissus add charcoal or camphor to the water and preferably keep them from other flowers.
Topmost buds should be nipped from gladioli, snapdragons and delphiniums.
Heathers without water will last for weeks in the house without withering or dropping needles.
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.
If flowering shrubs must be used the whole shoot should be taken down to two buds above old wood.
Leave enough leaf material for plants to regenerate.
Old flowers may be about to set seed and will not last long in the arrangement.