It may be a quiet time in the garden at the moment, but I’m still receiving a fair few gardening questions so I thought I’d take the opportunity to answer some of them in this month’s blog.
Jill Brown informs me that each year she buys a variety of colourful houseplants at Christmas, but she struggles to keep them alive for long. Part of the problem, she rather cheekily suggests, may be due to her husband, Don, whom she thinks may be killing them through over-watering! So for Jill and Don, here are a few tips to get weeks more colour from your festive favourites
Poinsettias are the perfect plant for warm sitting rooms. Put them in a light position, out of chilly draughts. And Don, it’s especially important not to over-water them .It’s best to let the compost dry out a little before you water them again. With a bit of care, poinsettias can keep their colour until Easter!
Cyclamen hate the heat so keep them in a cool place, like a bedroom, hall or porch. They prefer to be in a light spot and to be kept slightly moist, so water them regularly. If they’re happy, cyclamen will flower for months.
Azaleas are fantastic on the kitchen windowsill. They’ll do well in other rooms too, but the warmer it is, the faster they’ll finish flowering. The good news, Don, is that they love being watered! Plunge the pot in the sink for a few minutes every day. Kept well watered, they can last until Valentine’s Day!
Hyacinths should be kept as cool as possible and turn the bowl daily to stop the stems bending towards the light. Stake the flowers before they start to get floppy. And, finally, Orchids. The big, showy cymbidium orchids are best in cooler rooms, while the moth orchid prefers it slightly warmer.
All of these houseplants will do even better over winter with the occasional feed with Flower Power, and, just between ourselves, watch out for some great special offers on Flower Power and All Season Feed in early January!
Judy Thompson has asked how she can grow her own mistletoe. The important thing, Judy, is to buy a sprig with plenty of fat, white berries. Take the berries off and store them in a cool place until late February. Using a penknife, nick back the bark on the underside of a strong branch, about 5ft up, on an oak, apple or hawthorn tree. Spread the berries beneath the bark – and be patient! It can take up to five years before you can harvest your first crop.
Jennifer bought the garden chrysanthemums that David Ponton from Hayloft Plants sold last autumn, and they’ve flowered very well in their second year. She asks how she should care for them now. Once the plant has stopped flowering, leave it to die back naturally. The old leaves and flower stems will offer winter frost protection. In early spring cut the plant back to 12-15cm and it will regrow for the following season.
Finally, Tom Morrison planted a grape vine four years ago outside, but the plant has grown into his greenhouse (a great way to grow them!) and it hasn’t flowered yet. I’m assuming it’s a named variety Tom, as those grown from pips are too variable and unreliable, so the key things are keeping it cold in winter as they need a period of cold, and feeding with Flower Power in the summer to encourage the flowers. Pruning is important too, crucially once they have flowered so ask me about this once we’ve reached that stage!
That’s it, I’m off to buy my Christmas tree. We’ve our last main gardening gift show this coming weekend (11th December) and then shows on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve so please do join us if you can.
In the meantime, may I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!