Monday, 21 March 2016

spring gardening under glass

I decided it was time to start waking up the plants in the conservatory.  They've been ticking along over the winter, while my biggest risk has been over watering them.  By now the days are lengthening, there's more heat in the sun, and it is getting quite warm in there.  In fact, when I went to inspect things I found a couple of pots were dryer than they should have been.

I've been watering anything that looked as though it needed it with a watering can, but once the whole room needs doing regularly it's time for the hose, otherwise it amounts to an awful lot of trips up and down the steps with the Haws.  Last autumn I put all the spray heads from the hoses away somewhere safe and dry for the winter, so that they would not split during the frosts, which can easily happen if you leave them on the end of the hose and they happen to have water in them. Predictably, I could not remember where I had put them, and spent several minutes wandering in small circles and peering into the back of the pot shed before spotting them in a bucket in the garage.

I dusted every pot with a little fish, blood and bone as well, apart from the orchids.  I'll probably make up some cans of liquid feed fairly soon, to give things a boost, but a background treatment of slow release fertiliser seemed a useful start to the season.  And I repotted the things that needed extra space, apart from some of the ginger lilies.  I had a go at them a year or two ago, and some are getting congested in their pots again, but they are such monsters to get out of their pots that I thought I'd save that job until I was feeling more energetic.  They are barely making new shoots yet, so there's no rush.  But a tall, orange flowered Impatiens from Dibleys went into a bigger pot, as did Begonia luxurians.  The poor begonia does not look at all luxuriant and I fear it finds winter temperatures of just frost free rather too chilly.  The Impatiens has surprised me by maintaining quite a lot of healthy stem through the winter, and I think it needs to end up in a much bigger pot, but I thought I'd move it up in stages.

Salvia confertiflora, a souvenir of our visit to Kiftsgate, went into a bigger pot.  It has made rather a lanky plant, and I remembered the ones I'd seen growing in other people's gardens were in huge containers.  They have spikes of small, burnt orange flowers, and quite big leaves, and when well grown make magnificent specimens.  I pruned it as hard as I dared, but it only has one stem at the base and I didn't risk cutting through that.  It is a brittle plant, best kept away from anywhere you have to squeeze past it, and as I moved things around in the conservatory the salvia ended up with a couple fewer branches than I meant it to.

A triphylla type fuschsia went into a bigger pot, and was found on tipping it out of its old one to have root aphid, so it got a dose of Provado.  I never suffered with root aphid in the garden until a couple of years ago, on the other hand since then I have encountered it in pots at nurseries as well, so perhaps it is getting more frequent.  An acacia seedling that was a present from a friend but has barely grown, and a Dicliptera that has done very little since I bought it went into larger pots as well.  There was nothing visibly wrong with their roots, and they weren't actually crowded, but I hoped some fresh compost might encourage them.  It has worked in the past for plants that were just sitting there, not dying but not growing either.  A Hoya, another present, clung to life by the thinnest thread while refusing to grow any new roots for months until in despair I risked disturbing the few fragile roots it had by repotting it, after which it romped away.

I watered in the greenhouse as well, and dosed the agapanthus and pelargoniums with a dilute general feed to encourage them back into growth.  I can see a problem looming in the greenhouse, which is that it is already almost entirely full.  Some of my pots of seeds need pricking out, but I can't evict the perlargoniums or dahlias for another five weeks until the risk of frost is gone.

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