Pleiones are charming orchids grown in pots from a pseudobulb that splits into two or more after flowering which helps to increase your stock. The flowers arrive first on 6-8 inch stems in spring followed by 6 inch long 2 inch wide leaves.
Five Top Tips for Pleiones
Also known as the Windowsill Orchid or the Indian crocus Pleione species (20c) or hybrids (250c) are available in many colours including yellows, pinks, whites and purples. Most have the spotting on the lip or patterned colouring.
Pleione should be planted in bowls or pots with about one third of the bulb showing and one third of the pot filled with crocks. Drainage is more important than the composition of the compost and roots should not be allowed to become waterlogged.
Plant in cool conditions early in the year and allow to warm up through summer to no more than 25°C. Plants need a cool resting period in Autumn and Winter. The stringy roots can be trimmed to 2 inches before replanting.
Feed plants once the leaves start to emerge with a weak balanced feed but do not allow to stand in water.
Find a reliable local supplier or buy mail order from a specialist like Springwood Pleiones who supply the flower above Pleione Er-hai (speciosa x Etna) You will find many hybrids named after volcano like Stromboli and Vesuvius
It is the scented leaves of Pelargoniums rather than the flower that attracts growers and collectors. They are often used in scented gardens for the blind but are useful in a normal garden border where they may be brushed or touched. As indoor pot plants they are ideal as living pot-pourri and may be hybrids or species in their own right.
Top 10 Scented leaved Pelargoniums
Pelargonium Fragrans Variegata a small plant with lots of scented green and white leaves with the aroma of spice, pine and lemon.
Mable Grey woody and harder to grow but heavy lemon scented leaves
P. graveolens Lady Plymouth a strong grower favoured for exhibitions with a rose like scent
Prince of Orange is an old variety that as the name implies smells of orange
Little gem is a dwarf grower with a spicy scent that remains fresh until late in the year
Houseplants in pots are popular windowsill subjects but broaden your horizons.
No greenhouse or conservatory but lots of windows? Then you can grow a range of plants using the windowsills or a shelf under a window. Chose small plants and pots that are and will be in proportion to the width of the windowsill.
Tender plants may suffer in winter behind curtains but with good double glazing I do not bother moving most plants at night.
On the Kitchen Windowsill
Herbs will be many gardeners first choice and curly or flat leaved Parsley are likely to figure most frequently. Basil can be used as cut and come again and is available in several varieties so I would add this to any list of windowsill plants.
The hot and steamy conditions of many kitchens don’t help all plants but ferns and Orchids usually like these conditions particularly on North or East facing window ledges.
We currently have a white Saintpaulia which enjoys humidity but it will be moved when the flowers go over to be replaced by a Christmas cactus in flower. …
This Bromeliad is a relative of the pineapple and as it is easy to grow indoors it makes a fine house plant. There are a wide range of Bromeliads and a society dedicated to there culture the Bromeliad Society
Grow the Bromeliads for their coloured leaves that spring from the plants center.
If flowers are wanted try a dose of epsom salts or magnesium sulphate as this promotes healthy growth, cell structure and the production of chlorophyll.
As the inflorescence or coloured spike starts to go brown cut it down to encourage off sets called ‘pups’ and get a new generation of plants.
It can be good fun growing from seed as different Bromeliads pollinate one another and you can’t be sure what you will get.
For water holding Bromeliads keep the center topped up with soft water.
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.
Thompson & Morgan search for seeds and plants
Other species of Indoor Primulas include Primula malacoides and Primula sinensis the Chinese Primrose
Showing the soft fleshy leaves of ‘Twill Touch Me Series’ of Indoor Primula obconica. The Primula stem holds the flowers proud of the leaves.
Watering can be the key to success in the garden and with your houseplants. Not surprisingly plants without water die ! Plants can drown with too much H²O so watering is a skill worth learning.
It sounds so easy when you are told to ‘water your plants’. Well so it is but there is many a slip twixt watering can and lip. Remember you are watering the soil not the leaves.
Conserving Water in the Garden
Dig in bulky organic matter to increase the water carrying capacity of your soil.
Keep the surface mulched to avoid evaporation.
Keep soil weed free. Weeds compete for moisture and evaporate through their leaves.
Wind increases evaporation so build wind breaks.
On sloping land sow across the slope reducing run off and soil errosion problems.
Plant water hungry plants together where rainfall will be highest. Do not bother to water lawns they will recover from most drought conditions when it rains.
I was taken with the though of best tips for watering a garden after a chance discussion. Last night at the Bridge club (or the pub afterward) I was asked about the different growth rates of apparently identical plants. Mike and I put it down to water so here are my top tips
God’s own water is best! If we could arrange a steady drizzel from dusk to dawn through summer our gardens would be lush and our crops juicy and large. A slow steady rain (rather than a thunderstorm) will build up moisture in the soil without water logging or running off too quickly.
God’s own water is second best as well. By that I mean rain water caught in a bucket or barrel to be watered in by can or sprayer when needed. I collect rain water off the greenhouse roof (as it may dissolve more chemicals off an asphalt surface). Either way the rain water is softer and more balanced than tap water and is at surrounding temperature when used.
I try not to use water from the barrel on seedlings to minimise damping off (rotting caused by microbes).
Sprinklers or hose pipes need to be given chance to provide a good soaking so I believe in the longer and slower method so the water can really penetrate the top 4 inches or so of soil. A quick splash can do more harm than good bringing roots to the surface.
There are over 100 species of Mandevilla but the best to grow are often sold under the name Dipladenia splendens. I rate these climbers from Central America as the type of plant you can expect to see in far greater numbers in the coming years.
Mandevilla generally have waxy, fragrant, showy, trumpet-shaped flowers during the growing season in early spring. They are fast growing woody vines that can reach heights of 10 feet so need support. Mandevilla growth is not frost proof and need winter protection although roots may survive.
The fragrant flowers of pink, red and white compensate for slightly sparse foliage.
Top Species to Grow
Mandevilla boliviensis from Bolivia and Equador flowers white
Mandevilla dodsoni Equador
Mandevilla equatorialis Equador
Mandevilla jamesonii Equador etc
Mandevilla sanderi, Brazilian jasmine vine Aphrodite shown above
Mandevilla splendens, Brazilian Dipladenia
Mandevilla laxa, Argentina and Chilean jasmine white flowers
Does well in tubs, conservatories and hanging baskets. Keep above 50 degrees F
Repot as little as possible.
Requires a sunny position but tolerates partial shade.
Needs a well drained mulch or potting mix, with slow release fertiliser as it is a heavy feeder. Feed every two weeks with a fertilizer high in phosphor.
Keep moist but do not allow to stand in water.
Propagate from sturdy wood cuttings in spring.
Look out for cultivars Red Riding Hood, Alice du Pont (pink) and Yellow which has wide, bright yellow flowers. They are lower growing and shrubbier than the species and superb in hanging baskets.
Beware if you grow one as a houseplant as the sap or latex can be caustic and is reputed to remove warts (and all).
Alternative Names for Mandevilla
Scarlet Pimpernel or Red Riding Hood
With thanks to Marcia Stefani under creative commons license on Flickr