Last spring I meant to take cuttings of a dusky pink, single dahlia, and another in a good shade of soft yellow, that grew from a packet of mixed seed that came free with a garden magazine. The previous summer while the dahlias were in flower I stuck labels in the pots to remind me, since the time to do dahlia cuttings is when they first come into growth and before the stems become hollow (so theory says. I have never actually taken cuttings from dahlias). By the time it came to spring, however, I could not find the marked pots among the dahlias, all with white labels, crammed pot thick into the greenhouse with only a narrow aisle along the side of the bench left for me to walk along, and missed my chance.
Accordingly, yesterday at the Plant Heritage meeting I bought a packet of green plastic stick in labels. The idea is that the coloured labels will show up among the white, and I can tag pots where the plant needs attention. I thought of having a coded system, red for taking cuttings, say, and yellow for splitting, but that seemed overly complicated. If it isn't obvious what needs doing then I can always write on the label.
The Tulbaghia violacea need splitting. A tender member of the onion family, it produces fine leaves in summer that smell strongly of onion when touched, and delicate nodding flowers on long stalks. I have two forms, one with white flowers, one with mauve flowers and variegated leaves. Both have filled their pots while pushing themselves upwards so that by now the compost, densely crammed with roots, is level with the top of the pot and it's difficult to water them properly. I could move them into even larger pots, but the pots they are in are quite large enough to lift. Better to saw the rootballs in half, cut off the bottoms so that they will fit in their pots with headroom for watering, and start them off again in similar sized pots. I daresay that some fresh compost will give them a new lease of life, and I might manage to extract the dandelions that have infiltrated the roots while I'm at it.
Some of the evergreen Agapanthus need splitting as well, since their pots are so huge already that I can barely lift them. The thought of taking the bread knife to 'Queen Mum' makes me quite anxious, when she has grown from a modest little thing with just one flower stalk into such a fine clump, but I know that flowering will decline if I leave her as she is for another year. Agapanthus in pots like to be well fed and well watered in the summer, and don't flower at all well if truly pot bound, even if they don't want their fleshy roots to be sitting around in loads of spare compost. Tuesday's garden club lecture is about Agapanthus and Nerine, so if I might pick up some useful tips if I manage to get along.
I don't know what to do about Salvia confertiflora, which has not looked awfully happy this season and was very late into flower despite being in another pot so big I can scarcely move it. I rather think the plants I saw at Kiftsgate and East Ruston all had sole possession of absolutely enormous pots, suggesting it is a species that requires a lavish root run to give of its best. I have been trying to work out if it could live permanently in the conservatory so that I wouldn't have to move it, then it could have an even bigger pot, but after much mental juggling of the inhabitants still can't work out where it could go.