I have been busy giving my show plants their final stop for shows in June. When doing this, I take out every growing tip, even if it only has 1 set of leaves. With Angels and Regals, if left, they will grow on and flower leaving a gap. The sun has more power now as I have noticed that some of the dark zoned Stellars have a few red leaves, they have been moved to a shady spot in the greenhouse.
This month I carry on checking my plants for pests and removing dead or dying leaves so they do not fall onto the compost. This is a good time to get pots cleaned ready for use in the coming growing season. I also recycle used labels by removing the names with Methylated spirits as I find it removes most marker pens quite easily.
Touch wood no sign of Botrytis so far this winter. I make sure that I open doors and windows, if the weather is dry and warm enough to allow me to do so. I have had quite a lot of yellow leaves due to the temperature changing from being in double figures, to being cold, down to 0c-4c during the day. I make sure I remove dead and dying leaves through the winter to make sure that I do not give Botrytis a helping hand. Plants will benefit from having a quarter turn every few days while the light levels are low to help keep their shape.
It has turned cold with frosts at night so I have insulated my 2 Pelargonium greenhouses to give plants some extra warmth. As always I clean the glass inside and out before doing this to help let in extra light to compensate for the bubble lining the greenhouses. I make a curtain out of the bubble wrap to seal the doors at night to help keep out the cold North and Easterly winds we get at this time of the year. They are fixed so I can roll them up out of the way to make it easier to get in and out during the day.
I have started a new fan this month. It has been a while since I have used an Angel to do this, so I am trying Berkswell Seedling 1201 to see how it will fare. It seems to have plenty of vigour and the flowering pip is a good size, so fingers crossed it will grow well and fill the frame in a years time.
As the weather has warmed up all the bubble insulation has been removed. It is surprising how it defuses the suns rays as I have had to put a thin application of shading on to keep plants from getting anymore red leaves. The shading I normally use is Nixol, this has got a bit expensive with postage added on so I am trying Growing Success Greenhouse Shading. It has the same varishade technology which means it goes clearer in the wet therefore letting in more light.
I have stopped (removed growing tips) all my plants for the June shows. In doing this I have stopped everything on the plant, even if it only has one set of leaves, as I am after as many flowers as I can get for show day. One has to be careful with all this early sun that the leaves of Stellars and Dwarf Zonals do not start to turn red with the extra heat. I must admit to moving all those that have a dark zone to the part of the greenhouse that offers the most shade. For show purposes, any leaves that turn red have to be removed, as it does not grow out. It is best to do this as it happens, to allow fresh leaves to grow.
BERKSWELL FIESTA after having its last stop, this plant is in a 4.5" pot.
BERKSWELL NOCTURNE after having its final stop, this plant is in a 5" pot.
Today I braved the strong winds to do some potting on in the greenhouse as the sun was shining for a change. This time of year I take my compost, which is already mixed up, indoors to warm up. It is surprising how cold it gets stood in the potting shed. I pot plants on to the next size pot using the method illustrated on the "potting tips" page. As a guide, if the final pot is 6" I use the following sequence 2"-3"-4"-5"-6". This might sound a lot of work, but I can assure you that this is well worth doing, as I have found it produces a better shaped plant.
What strange weather this winter with all this wind and rain. The temperature went down to 0 degs. C Saturday night then 11degs. C last night. My plants must be confused, as I know I am. I did manage to get the greenhouse windows open for a few hours yesterday and checked to make sure the Angels were away from the glass, as I find they stay Botrytis free in the winter if more air circulates around them. When I check my plants to see if they want watering, I always look to see if there any pests at the same time. When you find 2 leaves stuck together, take care, for as a rule this means that there is a caterpillar between them. I remove both leaves and dispose of the caterpillar, I will spare you the details off that.
I hope your plants are looking as good as mine. I find that angels do well through the winter months and the foliage looks clean and crisp. Whilst I am cleaning my plants this time of the year, by removing dead and yellow leaves, I am looking at the shape of them and use canes to correct any wayward stems. A tip, instead of buying the green split canes that are getting expensive, I use the wooden barbecue skewers for this job. I can get 100 for £1.20, they seem to last longer as well.
As I have disposed of a lot of my big plants, I have been busy this week potting on some young plants which are being grown on to replace them. My compost when made up is kept in a bin which has a lid. This time of the year I sneak it indoors to warm up before using, this is done for the plants benefit rather than mine.
I have given in and insulated the 2 Pelargonium Greenhouses with bubbles as it went down to 3c the other night. Last year I did an experiment and insulated 1 greenhouse with bubbles and left the other. I had to put the heat on in the greenhouse without bubbles 3 hours before the lined one. I did this for a whole week and every night it was about the same. So, as you can see from this it is well worth doing. I always clean the glass inside and out before insulating to help let in extra light.
At the beginning of the month the show plants were treated to some fresh compost to keep them growing well through the winter months. As you can see in the photos the bottom 1"-2" of the rootball was removed, along with any loose soil from the top. I then replace with fresh compost, adding only half of the amount of compost that was removed into the bottom of the same size pot. This allows me to drop the plant down so the foliage touches the pot, then I top up with fresh compost.
I then wait a few weeks until the roots are finding the fresh compost, then proceed to stop all the show plants to keep them compact and also to shape them.
Bottom Third Removed
THIS IS A HOSTA THAT I HAVE RAISED FROM SEED AND IS IN ITS SECOND YEAR. IT TAKES FIVE YEARS UNTIL A HOSTA IS FULLY MATURE AND AT THE MOMENT THE GROWTH APPEARS TO BE STRONG .
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