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.
Indoor flowering all year round can be organised with the right pelargoniums.
Pelargonium more often called Geranium Something Special – from Fir Trees nursery
Throughout January this Pelargonium has been in constant pink flower on my desk. Each of 14 pips or mini buds opens to a 5 petal flower in a bunch of florets to make up the overall flower head. Three or four are in colour at any one time.
I left the plant too cold and dry and some leaves went a dark red but normally the leaves are a clear green. Some pelargonium leaves, called zonals, are banded and have good colour schemes. Betty Shellard for example has tri-coloured golden leaves.
For cuttings I know it is the wrong time but I had a leggy Blackdown Sensation, which has large cerise blooms. I wanted to knock it into shape so I have taken various cuttings. I have got out my seed propogator for the seed sowing rush that will begin shortly but in the meantime I have put the pelargonium cuttings in the box. I will let you know my success rate but working on the basis all plants want to survive I remain hopeful. If all else fails I have the stock plant, all be it a lot shorter after its haircut.
The horticultural trades association (HTA) has over 2700 member locations, many of which are one site nurseries often specialising in a small quality range of own locally produced plants.
The UK gardening industry has a retail turnover of over £5 billion a year and according to the HTA it is a buoyant and growing market. (well it would be growing!)
Like supermarkets the modern garden centres now sell more than plants and garden accessories, they even provide cafes and coffee shops.
Much of the stock has been grow abroad and brought to you at the cost of many ‘garden miles’.
Garden centres often have special offers and vouchers often designed to get you to spend in a way that extends their selling season. Not quite BOGOFF’s but 4 for 3 at Hayes or 20% off in November on selected items are examples.
Stock that is past the retailers sell by date may be reduced. You need to understand why the reduction is offered – if the stock is weak, damaged or unfit then stay well clear.
If Tulips, say are reduced in October to make way for Santa and the Christmas stock (that is so important to us gardeners) then fill your gardening boots because Tulips can be planted in November.
Normally look these gift horses in the mouth – a cheap wilted plant may never recover
There seem to be as many chains of garden centre as there are plants nowadays. Hayes, Dobbies, Strikes, Wyevale, Nocutts, Webbs, Klondyke and RHS are just some of the 130 members of the Garden Centre Association. http://www.gca.org.uk/
You may get a money back guarantee but will you return in 12 months to be told you killed the poor little plant.
Many large perennial plants can be split before you plant them to make several smaller plants that rapidly grow on. I have just bought and split a robust aster that I bought pot bound from a nursery and got 3 good and several smaller plants that will grow in the next couple of months.
Mail Order Companies
I like Thompson & Morgan for seeds and Jersey Direct often have good offers for annuals that provide bulk colour.
Buy-in seedlings and grow on yourself. Kinder pots and seedlings at the cost of a seed packet can be an economic way of getting a lot of stock for your garden.
Mini mail order plug plants are the next level of cost up but can be good value particularly for seeds that are difficult to germinate like begonias.
I like buying seedlings as a way of getting several vegetable varieties that will crop at different times and provide variety and insure against one crop failure.
In Praise of the Nursery
Of the retail choices available to gardeners my preference is to buy from Nurseries. The stock is likely to be local, hardy and ‘good to grow’.
The choice and selection of many varieties may be better although the overall range will be tighter.
The knowledge is often detailed and willingly imparted.
Many nurseries specialise and offer something different.
Owner managed business units need or help it is unnecessary for big business to cream off the profits made from hard working gardeners.
Nurserymen and women are some of the most knowledgeable gardeners I know.
Dionysia are a group of plants containing 50+ species found in mountainous areas in Afghanistan and Iran. Dionysia are the ultimate alpine plant producing a mass of, often fragrant, bloom on top of a perfect dome. However they are tough to keep alive without alpine house conditions. These plants are not for the novice and need care particularly with watering.
Dionysia are cousins of the cushion Androsaces but differ by having a long narrow tube to the corolla. They like a gritty scree with some humus and plenty of water in the growing season.
Dionysia are part of the Primulacea family and have many similar genes particularly when it comes to colour. For example, hirsutin has been identified as the violet pigment in flowers of Dionysia archibaldii, D. bryoides, D. curviflora and D. microphylla. Yellow pigment in flowers of D. aretioides is now reported also in D. bornmuelleri and D. paradoxa.
Bowles Mauve is a wallflower Erysimumlinifolium that performs for several years unlike its strongly scented cousins. It is a short lived evergreen perennial that gets a bit leggy if not kept in check. The plant flowers all summer long and it seems as though it is flowering itself to death.
Take regular cuttings which are easy to root and grow on.
It grows 2 feet high and wide in most types of soil preferring alkaline to acid
Also try other Perennial Wallflowers, Bowles Yellow or the shorter ‘Little Lilac Kiss’ from seed
Erysimum perofskianum Gold Shot as its name suggests has golden yellow flowers
Butterflies are attracted to this plant of the brassica family
As a member of the Cruciferae family the flowers grow from stems originating in the centre of the grey leaves and have 4 petals each in the shape of a cross.