How To, Mandy, Planting, Plants

Bamboo can do well in containers, even some of the more vigorous, running types, although the slower-spreading clumpers are the best choices.

It’s important to remember your chosen variety will only get as tall as the pot’s size will let it – a a good guide is about 50% to 75% of its maximum height in open ground.

It will also be less hardy but as most cultivars are very hardy, this shouldn’t pose a problem in the UK.

Caring For Bamboo In Pots

It will also require much more watering in the summer – as much as once a day during extreme heat, usually every 2-3 days.

Bamboo needs feeding most in summer when it is producing new stems. As bamboo is a grass, it requires a high-nitrogen feed, (10 per cent or more) – a controlled-release fertiliser will save you time, applying it in spring.

Bamboo will need to be divided or transplanted regularly to stop it from becoming root-bound. With clumpers, you can leave them a maximum of six years in a large 50-55cm container; runners will need to be divided every three-five years. This is a difficult job, as the pots are heavy and the plant bulky – get friends to help!

Planting In Pots

When it comes to container size, the bigger the better. If you want planter boxes, 46cmx46cmx46cm is the smallest to use for permanent use. Bamboo can fill whatever space it is given; a long, narrow planter, will produce a long, narrow screen, of moderate height.

Use well draining high-quality potting soil and make sure the pot has good drainage holes.

Bamboo can be grown in smaller pots but will need to be repotted every year. Don’t use tall, top-heavy or blow vase-shaped containers, as bamboo blows over easily.

Metal troughs alone are not a good idea, as the roots bake in summer and freeze in winter. Line it with bamboo barrier fabric or old carpet to act as insulation and drill extra drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.

Best Bamboo Varieties For Containers

Avoid large runners; smaller runners will grow better in containers and clumpers can do very well but need partial shade. Good runners include Pseudosasa japonica, Phyllostachys aureosulcata, P. nigra, and P. aurea will produce interesting, compact nodes at the base.

For clumping bamboo, most Fargesia will make a good display, with a fountain-shaped plume of foliage.

Groundcover varieties like Sasa make short, bushy container accents. Fargesia and Sasa varieties will need afternoon shade, or the leaves will burn.

Mandy at PrimroseMandy Watson is a freelance journalist who runs www.mandycanudigit.com.

A plantaholic with roots firmly planted in working-class NE England, she aims to make gardening more accessible to the often excluded – the less able, the hard-up or beginners.

Advocate of gardening for better mental health.

See all of Mandy’s posts.

Container Gardening, Garden Design, Gardening, Guest Posts, How To, Indoor

While you may have had a good-sized home with great landscaping both indoors and out, now you have downsized and moved to a much smaller apartment. Outdoor landscaping is not your domain anymore, and you have to now deal with a small indoor space. You do want it to look larger, you don’t want to infringe upon your living areas, but you really want lots of plants. What’s the answer to this dilemma? An indoor vertical garden!

What’s a Vertical Garden?

A vertical garden is a garden that grows upward (vertically) using a trellis or other support system, rather than on the ground (horizontally).

There are many ways to install a vertical garden in your small apartments and following are some of our favorites. Whether you live in a small Auburn, Alabama apartment or a huge city like London, you can still find ways to make it work!

Pallet

While Mississippi John Hurt wrote a famous song called “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor,” we want you to use a recycled pallet and install in on a wall. Then, cut our small areas and insert plants. This won’t take up much space but will add a nice splash of green to the wall it’s installed upon.

Leather or Wood Garden

You construct this by using a piece of plywood and either leaving it natural or covering it with leather—or plastic if you choose—and installing it floor to ceiling. Then, add a triangular expanding trellis and place small potted plants at nice intervals. This really adds outdoor charm indoors.

Wall Frame Garden

An old square wooden frame can be fixed to a wall and succulents that don’t use much water can be planted in it. You may need some netting or a screen behind the frame, but a lot of multicolored succulents can help hold in the soil and add cheeriness to the room.

Mesh

Steel mesh that you buy at a big-box home improvement center is another great option. Just run this from floor to ceiling also, get some hooks, and hang pre-potted greenery wherever it looks appropriate. Even sparsely covered mesh adds green to your room.

Vertical Air Plant Garden

To make one of these, place a three-quarter inch piece of plywood on a wall. Then hammer in nails in a triangular or square pattern and connect them with string. Next, buy a plant like tillandsia that can get most of its nutrients from the air without being planted in soil. With this scheme, you’ll have living plants that need little care, hardly any water and little further maintenance, but they will make your wall come alive with beautiful green hues.

Shelves

Wooden shelves that look like outdoor planter boxes are a favorite of ours. If you have a little more space, you can extend these out a few inches. If not, they can be installed close to the wall with enough room for a couple inches of soil. Philodendrons will look very since in this setup.

Shoe-hanger Garden

OK, so you aren’t good at building things, you don’t do well with hammers, and you have no idea how to pound in patterned nails and attach string. Don’t worry, though, because something called a shoe-hanger that you can buy at a charity shop will come to your rescue. Instead of hanging shoes on it, however, fill the pouches with soil and plant appropriate indoor plants. You can get this job done in minutes and you’ll have a wonderful indoor garden.

Are You Crafty?

If you are, check out this idea. Buy some two-liter soft drink bottles, and after you emptied them, cut them off about four inches from the top. Place the cut-off bottles neck-down on a wood rectangle and fasten them with a modified twisty-tie to the wood. Make sure you leave some room between them. Next, place soil into the bottles—they should look sort of like a funnel—and plant herbs like cilantro and parsley in them.  Now, mount the wood on a wall and water very carefully so that you don’t get your floors wet. You’ve got an inexpensive and nice-looking vertical garden that will make you smile.

Vertical gardening is an excellent way to save space in your small apartment. Primrose can help you choose the right plants as you explain exactly what you are doing, and you’ll see that for a very small investment you can bring outdoor beauty indoors.

Love these ideas, but not the hassle of making them? Primrose has an excellent range of quirky indoor planters, in all the trendy colours from copper to matt white.

How To, Jorge, Plants

The pruning requirements of your bramble is dependent on whether it is a summer or autumn fruiting variety. We recommend you train your plants to a south-facing wall or fence system to allow ease of management and to maximise productivity.

Selecting Sites

Like most fruiting plants, full sun is ideal, but unlike most fruiting plants, brambles can tolerate shade. Planting in a sheltered location is recommended as strong winds can damaged stems.

Training Systems

As most brambles are composed of floppy canes, they need to be supported, either to a south-facing wall or to a fence. A fence can easily be constructed with two 2-2.5m fence posts and galvanised wire. Canes need to be tied in with twine.

Floricanes & Primocanes

Brambles produce multiple stems, known as suckers, which grow out of a single root system. These stems are known as primocanes in their first year and floricanes in their second. As these stems grow from a single root system, they share resources, so it’s best to select 6-8 strong canes, pruning weak growth down to the ground.

Brambles are divided into summer-fruiting (floricane) and autumn-fruiting (primocane) varieties. Summer-fruiting varieties produce on second-year wood (floricane) and autumn-fruiting varieties produce on first-year wood (primocane). Primocanes and floricanes are easily distinguishable by their colour – the former green and latter brown.

Raspberries & Wineberries

Note: wineberry is its own species, native to Japan. They are pruned in the same way as a summer-fruiting raspberry.

Summer-Fruiting Varieties

  1. Summer: once floricanes have fruited, prune them to the ground.
  2. Dormancy (Autumn-Spring): select the best primocanes (6-8) and remove the rest.
  3. Late-Winter: thin the tips of primocanes (up to 30% depending on vigour). This helps boost fruit size in the following year.

Autumn-Fruiting Varieties

With autumn-fruiting varieties, you have two options available to you.

  1. You can prune your primocanes down to the ground every year after harvesting in autumn. This method produces one large crop each year.

  1. Alternatively, you can prune a stem below the fruiting area in autumn of the first year. This area will produce a small crop in the summer of the second year, after which it can be pruned down to the ground. The primocane emerging in the same year will produce a crop in autumn, where it can again be pruned below the fruiting area. This method produces two crops each year – a small one in summer and a larger one in autumn.

Training Raspberries

There are three training methods for raspberries – the stool, hedgerow and V/T trellis system. Fence posts should be 1.5m above the ground, spaced 1.6-3.6m apart. 2 rows of wire is at 60cm intervals is ideal. Autumn-fruiting varieties are only suitable for the hedgerow system.

With the hedgerow system, canes are planted 40cm apart. As new stems emerge, they can be thinned leaving one every 10cm. An advantage to this method is increased planting density.

With the stool system canes are planted 68m apart. As new canes emerge 6-7 are selected within the vicinity of the original, leaving the same space as when planted. An advantage of this method is improved circulation and light penetration.

The V/T trellis uses two rows of wire, which allows easy separation of primocanes and floricanes. Simply drive two stakes into the ground at an angle or hammer in a piece of wood perpendicular to the stake to form a cross.

Blackberries & Hybrid Berries

Note: loganberries and tayberries are both crosses of a raspberry and blackberry, while boysenberry was produced from a blackberry, loganberry, dewberry and raspberry. They are pruned in the same way as summer-fruiting blackberries.

The vast majority of blackberries are summer-fruiting and produce on second-year wood (floricanes). They are pruned much the same way as summer-fruiting raspberries.

  1. Summer: once floricanes have fruited, prune them to the ground. Once cut, canes can be left to degrade, making them easier to remove at a later date.
  2. Dormancy (Autumn-Spring): select the best primocanes (6-8) and remove the rest.
  3. Late-Winter: thin the tips of primocanes (up to 30% depending on vigour). This encourages the production of fruiting laterals.

Training Blackberries

Summer-fruiting varieties can be divided into semi-trailing and erect varieties. Fence posts should be 1.5m above the ground, spaced 5-7m apart.

There are two methods of training semi-trailing varieties – the fan and rope system. Up to 4 rows of wire can run between the posts at 30cm intervals. Bushes can be planted 3-3.5m apart.

With the fan system, primocanes are allows to grow straight upwards and are tied to the top wire. The floricanes are tied to the bottom wire(s).

With the rope system primocanes are tied to one side and floricanes the other.

Erect varieties are not as malleable, so a single wire 1.2m from the ground will do. Because they grow upright, they can be spaced 1m apart.

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.

How To, Jorge, Plants, Trees

Just like apples, pears are predominantly self-sterile and need to be paired with a pollination partner to produce fruit. There are a few partially self-fertile varieties that will crop without a partner, but any crop is much improved with one. Conference and Obelisk are the only varieties that are truly self-fertile and will produce a decent crop unaided, but for bumper crops we recommend you partner up.

Pollination Basics

Pear trees produce flowers that have both male and female reproductive organs, the anther and stigma respectively. The anther produces pollen and the stigma contains ovules. Pollen needs to be transferred from the anther to the stigma. This is usually done by insects, which flowers are designed to attract. Once a pollen grain reaches the stigma, it will start to form a pollen tube.

From here two things can happen. If the pollen grain is incompatible, an enzyme will be produced, which stops the pollen tube from growing, preventing fertilisation. If it is compatible, the pollen tube will grow down the stigma and deposit sperm onto the ovules. Fertilised ovules grow into fruit.

Pollen may be incompatible if it is from the same tree, from a closely related variety or a triploid variety. Self-fertile trees are different in that they produce pollen that will fertilise its own ovules.

Pear trees are put into pollination groups with group 1 flowering very early and group 6 flowering very late. Group 1 will always flower before group 2. Some websites will provide a specific flowering date, but it really depends on your location. Pears will be pollinated by any variety in the same or neighbouring (+-1) flowering group. This is because by the time the flowers of group 3 open, group 1 have already closed, making pollination impossible.

Do I Need to Buy a Pollination Partner?

Unless you live in an isolated location, it is probable there is another pear tree nearby. honey bees, the principal pollinator of trees, will forage several miles in search of nectar, so if you are in an urban area it is likely you are fine.

How Do I Know if My Tree is Well Fertilised?

Well-pollinated fruits have a large diameter and lot of seeds. Poorly pollinated fruits are small and misshapen.

Can Different Pear Species Pollinate Each Other?

Asian pears (Pyrus pyrifolia) will pollinate European pears (Pyrus communis) and vice-versa. Ostensibly, ornamental pears will also fertilise fruiting pear trees.

Other Than Buying A Pollination Partner How Else Can I Improve Pollination?

It is a little known fact that the first flower colour a bee lands on will be a bees preference thereafter. Bees also have an innate preference for violet/blue flowers which have the highest concentration of nectar. It is therefore unwise to plant flowers such as lavender near your orchard. Pears produce pale white flowers, which bees may forgo for more vivid flowers. The presence of weeds such as dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) and chickweed (Stellaria media) can also distract bees, so it is worth deheading them.

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.