How To, Jorge, Planting, Plants, Trees


Bare root plants in winter pose challenges to growers and gardeners alike. Freezing temperatures make even the simplest tasks difficult, with nurserymen having to trudge for miles in the bitter cold to assess whether a plant is suitable for transportation. Facing staff shortages and delayed couriers due to severed transport connections and hazardous rural roads, fulfilling orders can be beset by delays. Gardeners face different challenges with rock hard ground making planting impossible, rendering plants brittle and vulnerable to damage.

During winter plants become dormant, transfering energy to their roots and shedding their leaves. Biological activity slows, but doesn’t stop, just like when animals enter hibernation. This allows plants to be removed from soil that provides support, nutrients, warmth, moisture and oxygen. This reduces the weight of the plant, reducing transport costs, making bare root plants significantly cheaper than alternatives.

Plants can survive for significant periods without soil and can even be grown without as in the case of hydroponics. Although they can suffer for transplant shock, in which the plant’s health is threatened due to broken roots, disturbance and dehydration.This is why plants are carefully wrapped and their roots covered in hydrogel. Hence, they should not be removed from their wrappings until you are ready to plant and be left alone in a location not liable to temperature fluctuations.

Bare root plants should never be left in direct sunlight, nor be taken into the house, but can be stored in a cold outbuilding. Plants are liable to tissue damage when warming too fast, just like when humans suffer from chilblains. Bringing a plant into the house can cause the plant to come out of dormancy.

Bare root plants can survive for up to ten days without additional nutrients and water and indefinitely in temperatures below zero. If you are unable to plant in this time we’d recommend you leave your plant in water with liquid fertiliser. You can begin planting when the ground defrosts and temperatures rise above zero, with optimal temperatures around midday. Be sure to give your plants roots a good watering.

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

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.

Gardening, Liam, Plants, Trees

The Rowan tree, commonly referred to as the ‘Mountain Ash’, has become an incredibly popular tree in the UK; especially in urban spaces as they are known to thrive in harsh conditions with compact growing habits. You have more than likely come across several already this year, especially as during this time of year as they display attractive bunches of red, orange, or even white berries. For a genus which provides so much much needed winter colour, they  are relatively unknown and perhaps they deserve a little more praise than they currently receive.  Rowan tree’s are typically distinguishable by their pinnate green leaves,  white flowers in spring and brightly coloured berries in autumn and winter.

The similarities between the Rowan and the Ash, and given that Rowan’s are found at much higher altitudes is what gave it the name ‘Mountain Ash’. However, the Rowan is in the genus Sorbus of the rose family Rosaceae and completely unrelated to the Ash which is a part of the Oleaceae family.

Rowan is typically the name associated with the European variety Sorbus aucuparia which derives from the Latin word sorbus for ‘service tree’ and aucuparia which is formed from the words avis for ‘bird’ and capere for ‘catching’. Rowan trees were traditionally used in game hunting as many birds were attracted to the tree’s berries.

There are other varieties however as the Sorbus genus can be found throughout much of the Western hemisphere including Asia. Sorbus commixta or ‘Japanese Rowan’ is the species native to Japan and Korea where it is known as nana-kamado, literally translates to ‘seven (times in the) stove’ as the wood is robust and can be used several times in fires. Additionally there is the Sorbus aria, or ‘Whitebeam’ which hails its name from the lightly coloured timber it produces.

Sorbus berries

Despite being popular in more modern urban spaces the Rowan Tree has held a special place in our collective imaginations for centuries. The European Rowan is richly documented in folklore as protecting people from evil and demonic spirits and would be commonly referred to as the ‘Wicken Tree’ or ‘Witch Wood’. It is for this reason that Victorian writers commented on people, especially in Scotland, having Rowan trees planted outside of their homes. S. aucuparia has also been known as the ‘wayfarer’s tree’ and the ‘traveller’s tree’ as it protected travellers on treacherous journeys and prevented them from getting lost.

One thing is almost universal about the Rowan and that is that they are adored by wildlife. Come Autumn all manner of birds will gorge themselves readying for winter. In their natural form, however, the berries are far too bitter for human consumption. They can be freezed however to break down the acids and then cooked to make jams, chutney, jelly or even a wine!

‘The whitebeams are members of the Rosaceae family, comprising subgenus Sorbus… They are deciduous trees with simple or lobed leaves… They are related to the rowans and are thought to derive from hybrids between S. aria and the European rowan S. aucuparia.’ Called white beam due to the white colouring on the underside of the leaf.

Sorbus aucuparia ‘Apricot Queen’sorbus apricot queen

Blooms profusely white flowers between April and May followed by apricot coloured berries and fiery red autumn foliage. This particular variety is hardy against harsh conditions including pollution and so makes a tough attractive tree in urban settings. Initially bought into the UK for commercial growing during the 1980s it has become widely popular today.

Sorbus aucuparia ‘Asplenifolia’

More commonly known as the Cut Leaved Mountain Ash the leaves of this cultivar are particularly serrated. Providing rich tones of orange and red during the Autumn there is also a charming display of quite large crimson berries.

 

Sorbus Commixta ‘Embley’sorbus commixta embley

Often referred to as the ‘Scarlet Japanese Rowan Tree’ this cultivar is renowned for its fiery Autumn displays. It was initially brought to the UK during the 1880s from Japan and has been a popular cultivar ever since, both for people and for the birds who love to feed on its orange berries.

Sorbus aria ‘Lutescens’

This Whitebeam variety was initially brought to Britain from a French Nursery and then commercially grown from 1885. When the leaves emerge in Spring both sides of the leaf are covered in miniscule downy hairs giving it them a stunning white glow. As the seasons progress it loses the hairs on top of the leaf but retains a white underside accompanied by orange fruit in the late summer and a golden Autumn display in early Autumn.

Sorbus aucuparia ‘Joseph Rock

This particular cultivar of Rowan Tree is named after the Austrian Botanist Joseph Rock who explored different parts of Asia throughout the 1920s bringing back different plants and introducing them to the West. The Autumn colours are particularly striking on this attractive tree; the fiery red leaves juxtapose beautifully with the creamy-white berries.

Sorbus aucuparia ‘Sheerwater Seedling’

Horticultural journalist Noel Kingsbury lists the ‘Sheerwater Seedling’ as one of the most ideal ornamental trees for urban and tight spaces. It is easy to see why; it is one of the most compact rowan tree’s available and yet still provides the charming pinnate foliage along with profuse bunches of red berries.

Sorbus hupehensis ‘Pink Pagoda’sorbus hupehensis

The name literally means ‘Hupeh Rowan’ or ‘Hubei Rowan’ which derives from Hubei Province in China from which this sub-genus originates. It has also been commonly referred to as the Chinese Mountain Ash. The beautiful blue-green pinnate foliage acts as a fantastic backdrop for the vast bunches of pink berries which in many cases pull the branches down, hence ‘Pink Pagoda’.

Sorbus thuringiaca ‘Fastigiata’

The S. thuringiaca is a cross between the aira and the aucuparia grown initially at the start of the 20th century in York. ‘Fastigiata’ comes from the word ‘fastigiate’ which simply means to have a very columnar growth habit. This particular variety is noted for its spectacular Spring display of white-clustered flowers.

Sorbus aucuparia ‘Beissneri’

Known simply as the ‘Common Rowan Tree’ it is identifiable by all the quintessential traits of a European Rowan. In Spring lush green leaves  appear along with clusters of snow-white flowers and then scarlet red berries during the late summer.

Sorbus aucuparia ‘Chinese Lace’

‘Chinese Lace’ is actually a European Rowan and not a Chinese Rowan. The name instead reflects the fine foliage which hangs of the branches in a lace-like fashion. The leaves have deep serrations and are known to turn a beautiful burgundy shade come Autumn usually accompanied with bunches of scarlet berries.

Sorbus cashmiriana ‘Kashmir Rowan’kashmir rowan berries

A unique cultivar of Rowan hailing from Kashmir in the Himalayan mountains it is most readily distinguishable by the large white berries it produces. These berries can be as large as half an inch and they’re bound to stay on the tree for much longer as birds do not seem to enjoy them. The flowers too are larger than European and Japanese Rowans and are also slightly tinted pink making it an unusual and spectacular ornamental Rowan.

Sorbus ‘Eastern Promise’

Awarded RHS’s Award for Garden Merit ‘Eastern Promise’ has become a popular tree here in Britain due to its tough, hardy nature and its pristine, compact growing habit. Like many other Rowans it is well suited to the urban and confined environment and is distinguishable by the pink shade of its tiny berries.

Sorbus vilmorinii

Named after the 19th century French Horticulturalist Maurice de Vilmorin this variety originates from Western China including the mountainous region of Tibet. Blooming quite large white flowers in Spring it produces particularly huge pink berries during the Autumn.

vilmorin rowan

Liam at PrimroseLiam works in the buying team at Primrose. He is passionate about studying other cultures, especially their history. A lover of sports his favourite pass-time is football, either playing or watching it! In the garden Liam is particularly interested in growing your own food.

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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.

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