Composting, Flowers, Gardening, Grow Your Own, How To, Planting, Plants,, Watering, Wildlife


There is no doubt that roses are one of the most popular flowers to grow in Britain. In fact, so many are planted each year that if you set them out as a single row these plants would circle the equator! With the proper care and maintenance you can expect your rose to last for at least 20 years. However, many roses fail to thrive and a lot of that is due to improper planting and care. There are several elements to consider before attempting to plant a rose in your garden and this step-by-step guide should help you to navigate the pitfalls ensuring your rose is a success!


Planting Position 

Choosing the correct position for planting your rose is crucial. If it is not in a suitable spot it will not thrive. Plenty of sun is needed for your rose to grow, slight shade in the afternoon is good but not continuous shade. Your rose needs shelter from the cold winds. A nearby hedge or fence is good but should not be too close that it shades the bush. Your rose will need good drainage as it will not grow in waterlogged soil.

 Soil Conditions 

When planting your rose it is important that the soil is suitable. Ideally the soil should be medium loam, slightly acid with a PH of 6.0-6.5 and reasonably rich in plant foods and humus. Roses cannot thrive if the soil conditions are poor. Roses should be planted from Late October to March and the ground should not be waterlogged or frozen.

Preparing the Rose 

Cut off any leaves, hips or buds that may still be present. If the stems are shrivelled place all of the bush in water for several hours. Cut off any decayed or thin shoots before planting. Plunge roots into a bucket of water if they seem dry. It is crucial that the roots do not dry out before planting and make sure they remain covered until you are ready to set the bush in the planting hole. Cut back any long or damaged roots to about 30cm.

Planting the Rose 

Mark out planting stations to make sure your rose bush has enough space. There should be a distance of about a metre between each plant. When planting make sure that the bud union is about 2-3cm below the surface.

Caring and Maintenance


Roses benefit from having a layer of mulch on the soil surface around the plants as it reduces weeds, keeps soil moist in summer, improves soil structure, reduces black spots and some mulching material provides plant foods. Some suitable materials used for mulching include moist peat, shredded bark, well rotted manure, good garden compost and leaf mould. Prepare the soil surface for mulching by clearing away debris, dead leaves and weeds. Water the soil surface if it is dry. Spread a 5-7cm layer around the rose. Mulching reduces the need for watering and hoeing but does not replace the need for good feeding.


Roses have a deep-rooting habit meaning that the watering of established plants is not crucial in some seasons. However, some roses need watering after a few days of dry weather. For example, newly planted roses, climbers growing against walls and roses planted in sandy soils. All roses will need plenty of water in a period of drought in spring and summer. When watering, use about 5 litres of water for each bush or standard rose and 15 litres for a climber.


The main purpose of hoeing is to keep down weeds that are not smothered by mulching. Hoeing needs to be done frequently to make sure that the underground parts of the weeds are starved. Do not hoe any deeper than 2-3cm below the surface or the roots could be damaged.


Roses are perhaps the most popular flower for cutting and using as decoration. To make sure you don’t weaken the rose bush, do not take more than one third of the flowering stem with the flower. Cut just above an outward facing bud. Do not cut struggling or newly planted roses.  


Roses make heavy demands on plant food reserves in soil. If one or more vital elements run short your rose will not thrive. Feed your rose every year using a proprietary compound fertiliser containing nitrogen, phosphates and potash. You can use powder or granular fertiliser, liquid fertilisers or foliar feeding.


It is important to regularly remove dead blooms. Remove the whole truss when the flowers have faded. Cut the stem just above the second or third leaf down. This will help the rose conserve energy.


Roses do not produce shoots that increase in size steadily each year. Therefore, if they are not pruned the rose becomes a mass of live and dead wood. The purpose of pruning is to get rid of the dead wood each year and encourage the regular development of strong and healthy stems. For more details click here.


Grow Your Own, Jorge, Plants

Superfoods have exploded in popularity in recent years, helped by clever marketing playing on our ever present awareness of our mortality. Viewed as a special tool for keeping us fitter for longer, claims have been disseminated by wellness bloggers and celebrities, who do not have to stick to strict scientific principles, and remain unsubstantiated. Much of this goes back to a desire to move away from processed foods to traditional foodstuffs with legible ingredients lists, but also the rapid rise of allergies, the rise of vegetarianism and veganism and of course wishful thinking.

Nonetheless, while none of these foods are super, they are nutrient rich, and work well in moderation as part of a balanced diet. As if colour coded by nature, the different colours of fruit and veg originate from its dominant pigment, each containing different nutrient profiles. Beta-carotene, for example, that gives orange foods its colour is high in vitamin a – an essential nutrient for good vision. Hence, through eating a variety of coloured fruit and veg, you can ensure against nutrient deficiencies.  

Personally, part of the attraction of superfoods is the fact you can grow many of them yourself, both reducing emissions and saving money, and of course learning a skill. Now, without further ado, here are 5 exotic superfoods you can grow in the UK.


Fascinating in every measure, pineberries are a progeny of the same cross that gave us the common garden strawberry, although are the polar opposite in colour! With an acidic-sweet taste like pineapples, pineberries live up to the latin name for strawberries – Fragaria x ananassa with ananassa meaning pineapples. Suitable for growing outside, pineberries produce small yields and benefit from extended sunlight. Likewise with the common garden strawberry, the key is to keep the soil moist without inducing fungal diseases such as verticillium wilt. To do this be sure to use fresh compost and avoid spots where you have previously planted plants from the solanaceae family. If disease does occur, be sure to address it quickly. Too boost yields, it is worthwhile to plant in the autumn the year before, which allows time for the roots to establish themselves.


Two species of kiwis are sold in the UK, Actinidia augusta and Actinidia deliciosa. The former, known as the hardy kiwi can be found growing as far north as Siberia! Perfect for small gardens, the most popular cultivar, Issai, will reach a manageable 2.4m and can be trained into any shape. Known for its bumper crops, the cultivar requires a sheltered sunny spot of garden.

More familiar, deliciosa’ fruits are sold in supermarkets and are significantly larger than its hardier cousin’s. Originating from southern China, the species benefits from a greenhouse. Jenny, the most popular cultivar, is extremely vigorous and can reach a whopping 5m. We recommend you attach it to a pergola and prune to ensure its energy goes into producing fruits.

Passion Fruit

With one of the most beautiful flowers of any fruiting species, passion fruit doubles up as an ornamental. Ostensibly hardy to -6C, the plant can be killed down to the roots in the harshest winters, but will regrow. Like the kiwi, it is extremely vigorous and will swamp anything but the largest greenhouses unless checked.


Another fruiting species with gorgeous flowers, almonds are within the same genus as peaches, plums and cherries. Although perfectly hardy, producing fruits can be difficult due to the propensity of its blossom to get destroyed by late frosts. Hence, you can’t guarantee a crop every year. Almonds benefit from a pollination partner of another cultivar and must be kept away from peaches as hybridisation will produce bitter nuts.


The quintessential superfood, blueberries grow fantastically well in the UK. The most exotic cultivar, Pink Lemonade, produces large pink fruits that actually taste of lemonade! For a more traditional variety, try Goldtraube – a reliable producer of large fruits with excellent flavour.

Jorge at PrimroseJorge works in the Primrose marketing team. He is an avid reader, although struggles to stick to one topic!

His ideal afternoon would involve a long walk, before settling down for scones.

Jorge is a journeyman gardener with experience in growing crops.

See all of Jorge’s posts.

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


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


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.


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.


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.


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.