I was so pleased to discover that there is a new strain of hardy gerbera plants available. These are hardy up to -5 degrees. The great thing about gerberas is that the flowers last for ages in water – that’s why you see them in so many restaurant dining rooms.
If the plants are potted up and moved into the greenhouse in the autumn, they will flower on and off all winter. They appeared to be an ideal plant to grow for a flower seller, so I invested in some plantlets, potted them on in ordinary compost and within three weeks had lost the lot.
Investigations on the Internet informed me that they need a very free draining compost. Determined not to be beaten I bought some more plantlets, potted them up in a mixture of compost, sand and vermiculite. These plants did a bit better than their murdered relations but after a few weeks I noticed that one was starting to keel over.
More research ensued. Then I found the key point that somehow I’d missed before - their crowns need to be kept really dry – particularly when they are small. So ideally the crown should be set above the soil line in the pot. They are now flourishing (sort of) but growth is slow.
Early August is a good time to stock up on perennial plants as lots of plants are on sale at garden centres to make space for the new autumn displays. I whistled into Homebase and picked up a couple of old English roses at half price and then spotted that they had knocked down the price of their hardy gerberas from £6.99 to just £2.49.
These were good strong plants, covered in buds. Needless to say a couple were popped into my trolley immediately. Peering closely at these pots the crowns are at soil level so it must just be the baby plants that need extra special care. They do need good drainage and twice weekly feed and if you leave them in a border overwinter I reckon a protective mulch of compost would be a good idea.
Big corporate centres that sell plants as a sideline (such as QD, B&Q, Netto etc) are great places to buy if you know your stuff (my knowledge is still a bit vague but I sniff around with the rest of the customers). If the plants are not selling well they are quickly discounted. Two weeks ago I bought two chocolate cosmos plants for £2.99 from QD – the corms can be dug up late October/early November and stored over winter. A great delicate perennial with a wonderful chocolate scent that will flower for years if they are treated correctly. In a good garden centre these plants are very expensive.
Talking of failures that I assume were cared for incorrectly, let’s move on to our ranunculus. A pretty flower with a hideous name. I bought a lot of these corms in the spring and planted them in 8 x 12” terracotta pots to transfer (in their pots) into the new herbaceous borders to hopefully flower in July. The idea being that I would dig up the pots in the autumn and overwinter them in the greenhouse and have flowers again next spring.
They did very well in the greenhouse and with a happy chortle I quickly transferred them to the herbaceous borders at the end of May, expecting a really good show. Once the pots were in the borders the green shoots started to look drained and after a couple of months all the green hopefullness had withered and died off completely. I dug up the pots last week and retrieved just a handful of corms.
I’m planning to dry these off and try again next year. They were watered and fed regularly when they were planted in the ground – any ideas as to what I did wrong would be greeted with enormous joy. I really want these beautiful flowers to thrive in our garden.
And finally on the failure front I’m not even going to mention the lisianthus plants…just 8” high, in bud for 6 weeks. Arrrrgh!
Leave a reply