Friday, 2 January 2009

Me and House Plants

I am not really very good at house plants, but I do have some successes.
Of the ones that were mentioned in the comments on the last blog:-

Cyclamen. Some survive, some I lose. When they are new, the secret is to keep them moist but not over-wet. If they dry out, they fall outwards and do not come up properly again, even if watered soon enough. If overwatered they will just gradually give up the ghost. There is much talk about not getting the top of the corm wet and watering from the bottom. I have never bothered about that, and I don't think it matters, if you tip any excess water out of whatever they are standing in if you have given them too much and the conditions in the room are correct. This house is more likely to be too cold than hot. It is frost free though. If there is a radiator, I keep the cyclamen well away from it, (this goes for most plants). As they are in bloom in winter, the sun is not a problem and they do like plenty of light. I pull out flowers that are dying, hoping to get the whole stem.
If the plant is worth it, I keep it in the greenhouse after it has flowered. This does not get as much light as it should, which in summer suits cyclamen. Watering goes on as before - only when needed but do not alow to dry out. Now comes the "don't know" bit! I have allowed them to dry/go dormant during the summer - about June to September - and also kept them going all year. I think the natural way is to let it go dorment. Either way, for me, they go leafless or nearly at some point and then start up again. The old one in the picture was certainly allowed to take its own course this year. Can't remember how long I have had it or whether it has ever had the dry-out-under-the-bench treatment. If it had it would have been repotted in nice new compost in September. I do not bring them into the Conservatory until they have several flowers out and plenty of buds. I do not try to keep them in the house proper for two reasons - I forget to water them and the conditions are not as good.

Poinsettia - Make sure that the shop wraps the plant so that not a breath of a draft can get at it. When you get it home, put it in a draft-free place. Not too much light. I haven't got one this year but if I had it would be on the kitchen table against the wall with very little natural light. There is an electric light above it which is on quite a lot - enough apparently as it then lasts from before Christmas to about Easter, though by then it has lost most of its leaves. It needs to be kept just moist, not wet. It must not dry out though. Either way it would drop all its leaves. I do not try to grow them on afterwards. The Christmas ones have been grown in specialist conditions, with the amount of light per day very carefully controlled, as this and temperature decide when it will produce its red (or yellow) bracts. Not flowers - they are the tiny things in the centre. On Gardeners' Question Time, you will find that they all turn up their noses, whoever is on, because the plant is so fussy. Huge quantities are produced, presumably because a well grown plant does look very Christmassy. Very few survive more than a few days!

Other queries were:-
Wizzard - the plant in picture 6 down is Hebe Crystal. It, or its near relations are quite common. I saw one in Suffolk that was about 8ft tall but I think this one is not as vigorous. It could be controlled by pruning, anyway. It is very good value because it flowers from about August/September to early Spring.
Tiggy - What bulbs?!!! Usually there are lots poking through by now, even up here, but this year there are hardly any. I do not have any really early snowdrops, perhaps I should get some.
Frances - We are as far north as you can get in England, almost, only Crystal and @themill are further up. Scotland is another matter, of course - run from the chain-saw! We are at 650 feet, which is quite high, and very exposed to the wind, though we do have a wind-break to the West. Very open to the East, only a stone wall which doesn't really help much. The temperature gets down to -4 or -5 on the house wall, quite a lot lower out in the open, I should think. In the past this used to happen quite often and we had lots of snow. Now not so often and much less snow. This winter has been colder though. Highest shade temperature reaches 24 or even 25.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Colour in the garden on New Year's Day

Today, I went looking for colour.
First I looked in the Conservatory. This cyclamen I have had for a number of years, forget how many.

This one was given to me by the staff at the School at the end of term. They seem grateful for the small amount that I do for them
Then I went to the Greenhouse. the Azalea is the one that I took 2 years running when I started my blog. It gets ever bigger but does not flower as well as it used to.

Very much the tail end for these Fuschia. They will have to be cut hard back soon.

These Streptocarpus (is that the right name?) have been in flower since spring but are tailing off now. I shall remove the leaves that have had flowers growing from them soon. Many have gone already
Now we veture out into the gloomy day. (The sun came out later but I couldn't be bothered to go out again!) This Hebe appears in the last blog but it is looking a bit part worn after the long cold spell and snow.

You do not need flowers to give you colour. These pictures show evergreen foliage, some variegated, some gold and some stem colour. Also a different Hebe with small white flowers in the second picture.

And lastly, gold and green