Gardening, George, Grow Your Own, How To, Planting, Plants

Growing succulents indoors

How to Create Your Indoor Succulent or Cacti Garden

Growing plants indoors makes a wonderful difference to your home – they improve air quality, de-stress and of course look beautiful. Succulents are one of the best kind of plants to grow as they’re some of the most tolerant and easy-to-care-for varieties out there. They come in a huge range of sizes and eye catching forms to suit any space or design you have in your home. Growing succulents indoors is hugely rewarding and, as you’ll see, very straightforward.

What are succulents?

Succulents are plants which store moisture in thick fleshy leaves or stems. Cacti are one type of succulent, but they come in many forms, from trees to tiny spikes. Succulents originate from all over the world: Africa, South Africa, the Alps, Central America and South America. So they can thrive in many different conditions, particularly indoors where the temperate and humidity is close to their native habitat.

Planting succulents indoors

Pots

Succulents suit containers as they have shallow roots. This also makes them great for grouping multiple plants in one pot, if that is the look you want to go for (plus it makes them easier to water). Just aim for similar sized plants that have common watering and light requirements – do your research! Drainage is crucial when choosing your container as succulents don’t like to sit in moist soil. Use drainage holes where possible, or add small stones to the bottom if not. You can also plant in terrariums but drainage is often an issue. Terracotta is the best material as it absorbs some of the moisture.

indoor succulent garden

Soil

The key for succulent soil is to make sure it’s well draining. You can buy specialist cactus or succulent compost, or make it yourself. A good mix is 1 part well draining potting compost, 2 parts coarse sand and 1 part perlite. This should ensure water runs through the soil easily.

Watering

With succulents it’s best to err on the side of caution and under- rather than over-water. Watering once every two weeks is usually enough, even less in winter. Give it enough water to soak the soil, but ensure it can thoroughly drain before the next watering. If using a container with poor drainage, like a terrarium, only give a little water to dampen the soil. If the roots sit in water they will rot and kill the plant. With little water the plants can draw on moisture stored in the leaves and grow less, which is fine for small containers.

Placement

Succulents like sun, usually full or partial – check the requirements for the species you have. If the leaves go brown from sunburn, move the plant out of direct light. In some climates you can move them outdoors in summer, but in the UK they will need to stay inside year round.

succulent placement

Pest control

Good air circulation is crucial for avoiding pests, so think about this when you’re potting and placing your succulents. Terrariums in particular can limit air flow. Succulents are generally good against pests, but watch out for gnats, mealybugs and spider mites on the leaves – often these can be wiped off or sprayed with non-toxic pesticide.

Things to watch out for

Naturally the lower leaves will die back and be replaced by new leaves at the top of the plant, so don’t worry unless the top leaves are dying. Most succulents go dormant during winter, so avoid adding fertiliser then as they will not naturally be growing.

The best succulents to try

Most succulents are easy to grow at home and won’t require a lot of effort. But some extra tolerant and attractive ones to try include sansevieria, jade, aloe vera, echeveria, zebra plant, pincushion cacti, string of pearls and crown of thorns.

zebra plant

George at PrimroseGeorge works in the Primrose marketing team. As a lover of all things filmic, he also gets involved with our TV ads and web videos.

George’s idea of the perfect time in the garden is a long afternoon sitting in the shade with a good book. A cool breeze, peace and quiet… But of course, he’s usually disturbed by his energetic wire fox terrier, Poppy!

He writes about his misadventures in repotting plants and new discoveries about cat repellers.

See all of George’s posts.

Christmas, Gardening, Gardens, Grow Your Own, Megan, Wildlife

tree branches in snow

Christmas is officially almost here. Although it is an enjoyable time of year for most, for some it can be a struggle. It is a challenging time for our stress levels with changes of routine and lots of pressure. This can be made even worse by an existing mental health problem. 1 in 4 people in the UK experience some kind of mental health problem in their lives. That’s a massive 16.41 million people. Venture into garden therapy and you’ll hopefully see lots of benefits.

Spending time outdoors can relieve stress and improve your mental health. If you’re feeling down, anxious, or struggling with something else, getting out into your garden might help. I myself suffer from depression.  From experience, spending time in nature improves my mental outlook, helps me relax and boosts my mood, even on the downest of days. We’ve compiled a list of things you can do in your garden at this time of year. Try one or more of them out if you want to see what garden therapy can do for you.

Meditate

garden therapy zen stones

Yes it may be chilly, but wrap up warm and find a nice quiet corner of your garden to sit down and meditate. Mindfulness is now a recommended treatment for people who struggle with their mental health. It it also used by people who want to improve their overall mental wellbeing. To get started with meditation, download an app such as Stop, Breathe & Think or HeadSpace. Both have simple, easy to follow meditations for beginners.

Feed The Birds

garden bird on feeding dish

Research has shown that watching garden birds is good for your mental health. Invest in some wild bird care and enjoy the wonders of the many species of bird it’ll attract to your garden. The most common garden birds in the UK are house sparrows, starlings, blackbirds and blue tits so keep an eye out for those. A good place to start is by buying a ready-to-use bird feeder and hanging it on a tree branch in your garden. Alternatively, there are a wide range of bird seed mixes, from general mixes to mixes that will attract certain species such as robins.

Grow Something

hands planting a cactus

Although this may seem daunting to someone who has never gardened before, growing something from seed doesn’t have to be stress central. In fact, you’ll be sure to feel a sense of achievement, nurturing something that started in your hand as a packet of seeds and is now something you can serve on your plate, or admire the beauty of. Invest in a grow kit and see where the world of growing plants will take you. You never know – this time next year you might be harvesting your own veg patch!

Mental wellbeing is boosted by being outdoors so don’t neglect your garden because it’s cold! Using garden therapy can reap great benefits. So get outside, get relaxed, and get happy.

Megan at PrimroseMegan works in the Primrose marketing team. When she is not at her desk you will find her half way up a hill in the Chilterns
or enjoying the latest thriller series on Netflix. Megan also enjoys cooking vegetarian feasts with veggies from her auntie’s vegetable garden.

See all of Megan’s posts.

Allotment, Greenhouses, Grow Your Own, How To, Megan, Planting, Plants, Vegetables

Vegetarian Garden: Plant Based Proteins

Vegetarianism and veganism is on the rise, with stats showing a massive 360% increase in 10 years. Even reducetarianism is a thing now. Cutting or reducing meat in your diet doesn’t mean your food will be boring – it’ll just be more rainbow! As Primrose’s resident vegan, I have decided to address the age-old question ‘where do you get your protein from?’ by compiling a list of plant based proteins and how to grow them. In no time, your garden will be flourishing with nutrient rich rainbow veggies that would be a welcome addition to any plate.

Green Peas

Vegetarian Garden: Plant Based Protein - green peas

Green peas are a great source of plant based protein, with 5g of protein per 100g. Peas also contain many essential vitamins and minerals and a good amount of fibre. If choosing the meteor variety of peas, sow in November and the peas will be ready to harvest between May and July. We suggest sowing the seeds in old guttering and drilling holes at regular intervals for drainage. Store in a cold frame or in your greenhouse to protect the seedlings from pests. After the seedlings are well established, they can be transferred into your garden. The use of cloches would be beneficial for growth here. When harvesting, be sure to pick regularly for ultimate freshness.

Quinoa

Vegetarian Garden: Plant Based Protein - red quinoa

Quinoa, pronounced ‘keen-wah’, is an ancient grain that is packed full of protein, 13g per 100g to be precise. It contains all nine essential amino acids making it a complete plant based protein. As exotic as it sounds it is actually relatively easy to grow quinoa in the UK. The best time to sow quinoa is in April, and you should be able to enjoy your quinoa from early autumn. Early growth can look a lot like weeds so ensure you mark your plants carefully to prevent treating them like weeds by accident. Harvesting is the trickiest part – remove the seed heads when the leaves start to turn yellow and leave them to dry for a couple of weeks. To remove the seeds, rub the seed heads with your hands. Ensure you rinse quinoa well before cooking, as un-rinsed quinoa tends to be quite bitter.

Pumpkins

Vegetarian Garden: Plant Based Protein - pumpkins

Pumpkins aren’t just for Halloween – the seeds inside are packed full of nutrients and have a mighty 19g protein per 100g, making them a great plant based protein. They are also very high in magnesium and omega 3. Pumpkin plants take up a lot of ground; each plant requires around 3 foot of ground around it, making a single plot more than 6 foot each side. Sow seeds directly into the ground from late May to early June. Use mulch coupled with tomato food to feed your pumpkins, ensuring you water the seedlings regularly in order to keep them in optimum health. It is important not to harvest too early, so ensure the skin is tough and the stems have started to crack before picking. You can use the pumpkin to make a hearty soup and the seeds as a healthy on-the-go plant based snack.

Broad Beans

Vegetarian Garden: Plant Based Protein - broad beans

Broad beans contain around 6g of protein per 100g and are high in vitamin K, vitamin B6 and zinc. The best time to sow them is between February and April. If sowing earlier, ensure you put cloches in place to warm the soil ahead of time. Alternatively you can sow them in small pots in the greenhouse where it is easier to protect them from pests. Broad bean plants tend to flop which can cause the stems to bend and break so help keep them upright by investing in some cane and string. To keep your broad beans as fresh as possible, store them in the freezer or dry them out.

Broccoli

Vegetarian Garden: Plant Based Protein - broccoli

Broccoli is a very nutritionally-rich food, boasting a variety of vitamins and minerals and 2.8g of protein per 100g. This plant based protein is part of the cabbage family and there are lots of varieties including sprouting broccoli and purple cauliflower. Sow broccoli seeds from late March to early June. It is preferable to sow in a seedling tray and place in a greenhouse, poly tunnel or cold frame. After the seeds have germinated let them acclimatise to outdoor temperatures by using cloches or storing in a mini greenhouse. The amount of space you give each seedling in your plot will determine how large the broccoli head will grow. Ensure you harvest the broccoli before it turn yellow, as by then the florets are starting to bloom.

Megan at PrimroseMegan works in the Primrose marketing team. When she is not at her desk you will find her half way up a hill in the Chilterns
or enjoying the latest thriller series on Netflix. Megan also enjoys cooking vegetarian feasts with veggies from her auntie’s vegetable garden.

See all of Megan’s posts.

Gardening, George, Grow Your Own, How To, Plants, Watering

sowing a lawn from seed

Whether you’ve been giving your garden a makeover or want to touch up a patchy lawn, growing your own grass is a rewarding and straightforward task. Nothing quite beats a rich natural carpet for relaxing or playing on, and a thick lawn can really enhance your garden. Late spring and autumn are the best times to sow seeds, just outside of the frosty periods and while it’s wet enough to save on watering. Read on to learn about sowing a lawn from seed and before too long you will have a lush green garden to enjoy.

How to sow a new lawn in 6 steps

Step 1 – Prepare the soil

Smooth out the area of earth where you want to grow your new lawn. Then rake over it so the surface has open trenches to take in the seeds.

preparing soil

Step 2 – Sow the seeds

Take your grass seed and sprinkle over the soil. To start a new lawn, use 70g per m2 – to thicken up an existing lawn, 50g per m2 will do. Aim for an even covering of the soil, sprinkling by hand or using a spreader tool.

Step 3 – Mix in

Use the rake to gently mix the seeds into the top level of soil. Go lightly to avoid leaving any bare patches or putting the seeds too deep.

watering grass

Step 4 – Watering

Follow our watering schedule to ensure your seeds get enough hydration as they begin to grow:

First fortnight – Water lightly twice a day using a fine spray to avoid washing the seeds away.
Second fortnight – Water once a day or every other day depending on how quickly the soil dries out.
Second month – Water more heavily, twice a week.
Third month – Water once a week.
Up to 6 months – Water enough to stop it drying out, then let nature take over.

How to Keep Lawn Edges Neat

Step 5 – Mowing

Soon enough, your budding new grass will need its first trim. You should start to get shoots within the first two weeks. When the grass reaches 5cm tall and it’s a dry day, it’s time to cut. Mow slowly and don’t cut it right back – the plants are still tender. For the first four times you mow, just give it a little trim. After that you can gradually start to cut it back to your desired length.

Step 6 – Lawn care

For the best start in life, you’ll need to give your turf a little TLC. After 3 months you can start regular feeding with lawn fertiliser. But avoid using liquid fertiliser until 6 months. Fertilisers are often specialised for summer or autumn – make sure you use the right type or you will encourage growths that could be damaged at that time of year.

Don’t use weedkiller during the first 6 months either as it may kill the new shoots. Instead weed by hand. After the first year, you can begin aerating the lawn too.

growing lawn

And there you have our six step plan to lawn growing success! We hope these tips help and inspire you to trying out sowing from seed. Alternatively, you can compare real with artificial grass and see which might be best for your garden.

George at PrimroseGeorge works in the Primrose marketing team. As a lover of all things filmic, he also gets involved with our TV ads and web videos.

George’s idea of the perfect time in the garden is a long afternoon sitting in the shade with a good book. A cool breeze, peace and quiet… But of course, he’s usually disturbed by his energetic wire fox terrier, Poppy!

He writes about his misadventures in repotting plants and new discoveries about cat repellers.

See all of George’s posts.

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