How To

A Guide to Perennial and Alpine Care

The term ‘perennial’ encompasses dozens of species, so many gardeners can feel perplexed when deciding how to care for the differing plants in their garden. Within this post, we will detail the best way to care for your perennials, covering their planting, maintenance, and advice on mitigating common problems once they have become established.

Perennials

A Guide to Perennial and Alpine Care

A perennial can be defined as a plant that will live in the ground for beyond two years. It will retreat into the ground during Autumn, and subsequently reemerge in Spring. As such, the planting and nurturing of perennials in your garden can be a satisfying activity, where you will be rewarded with a beautiful flowering display amongst your flower beds and borders. 

Nevertheless, it is important that you do not make any errors in terms of their planting and care, as their requirements are less versatile than an alpine’s (which are inherently accustomed to growing on more unusual surfaces, such as rockery and gravel).  

The most appropriate method to plant your perennials will depend on whether they are container-grown or bare-rooted.

Planting Container-Grown Perennials

These consist of a small-sized perennial that has been placed into a container of soil. To plant your perennial, dig a hole in your garden that is slightly larger than the container itself. The hole should be greater in terms of its width, as opposed to its depth. This will ensure that the perennial’s roots are well-buried, yet their shoots and stems will be bordering ground-level (where most moisture and nutrients is present).

To remove perennials from their container, gently tease their roots out from the soil (if you discover any spiralised roots, ensure that they have been adequately freed up from the soil).  Once finished, place your perennial into their hole, and lightly pat-down the surrounding soil. 

After your perennial has been  planted into the ground, provide it with a nourishing drink. This should be given even if the soil is presently moist, because it will mitigate against future dryness and help settle the soil.

Planting Bare-Rooted Perennials

Upon receiving your bare-rooted perennial, it is best to firstly assess their size. If they are over 75 millimeters in length, they can be planted into your garden immediately. 

If your perennial is of a smaller size, we advise you to initially place them into a pot to be ‘hardened off’ under a sheltered area. This will contribute to a more established perennial that will flourish beautifully within the impending months. 

Caring for your Perennials

A Guide to Perennial and Alpine Care

Once planted into the ground, we encourage you to water your perennials generously; with such efforts most integral during their initial growing season. Deadheading is also recommended, as this will prevent your perennials from wasting valuable energy on spent flowers. Nonetheless, you can allow the nearby leaves on the plant to remain, as they can leverage more energy into their roots for enhanced flowering.  

How to Deadhead your Perennials

Deadheading your beloved perennials is a brilliantly-straightforward undertaking, with the only equipment required being a pair of scissors or secateurs.   To deadhead, identify any flowers on your perennial that appear spent, and carefully rescind them from below their base.

Dividing your Perennials

As part of ensuring unrivaled flowering, once every few years, it is beneficial to divide your garden’s largest-appearing perennials. If your perennials are exhibiting the following signs, they are most likely ready to be divided;

  • They have outgrown their assigned space.
  • They are producing a lesser amount of flowers.
  • The inside of the perennial appears to be in worse health.

If you wish to relieve yourself from the duty of dividing your perennials, why not purchase one of our enchanting Begonias. Due to their blooms naturally dropping off when their lifespan has completed, a Begonias’s care will not necessitate any dividing, making them a lower-maintenance option for your outdoor space.

It is most sensible to divide your perennials on a drizzly day.  If the soil appears dry, soak the soil that encircles the perennials you will be relocating. It is also important that the perennials themselves are thoroughly watered; this will provide ease in their removal from the ground.

Taking good care, loosen the soil around each perennial, and gently pick them up in their clumps. To help assess precisely where they should be divided, using a hose or a watering can that produces a gentle stream, wash off the soil to expose the roots.  With a garden fork, slowly separate the roots, and prune away any damaged areas. Once this step has concluded, you can then re-plant each segment into a hole (with their depth matching what they were previously accustomed to).  Finish off the job with a generous watering, and await your perennials’ greatest return yet.

Alpines

A Guide to Perennial and Alpine Care

An ‘alpine‘ is considered as a plant that is traditionally accustomed to growing within mountainous districts. Therefore,  these plants will happily grow in rock gardens, paving, and walls.

Due to their versatile growing abilities, alpines have proven a popular choice amongst those with smaller or less traditional gardens. If you are hence seeking to add colourful interest to your outdoor space, please continue reading for a succinct guide to the planting and care of alpines.

Planting your Alpines

If you are presently pondering over the most appropriate time to plant your alpines, we strongly encourage you to plant them in March or April. During these months, the soil in your garden will be rich in moisture, and its temperature will be rising increasingly. 

If you are planting your alpines into a container (which many consider as the most reliable method of providing optimal growing conditions) ensure  that the soil is a composition of compost, topsoil, and grit. To be exact, each ingredient should account for a third of the overall mix.

As part of establishing excellent drainage, create several drainage holes towards the bottom of the soil mixture, and place a generously-sized piece of crock above these holes. This will mitigate against the possibility of a build-up in silt. Once your alpine has been planted, finish by adding a layer of grit. Aside from this layer’s decorative purpose, it will help protect your alpine from pests (specifically slugs). 

If you are seeking to plant your alpine into the crevasse of a wall, you can fill the crevasse with the aforementioned mixture. Nevertheless, not every alpine will subsist under these conditions. In light of this, we strongly recommend our Phlox Subulata ‘Fort Hill’; not only does this alpine display captivating, heart-shaped petals, it is an excellent means of softening your garden’s walls. This ‘Moss Phlox’ can be purchased here

Caring for your Alpines

A Guide to Perennial and Alpine Care

Once your alpine has been planted snugly into the ground, reward it with a sufficient watering. From this point onwards, the care necessitated by your alpine is relatively straightforward; namely entailing a feed of high-potash plant food each Spring, and the deadheading of any blooms that appear spent (as previously detailed within this post). 

Grow Your Own, How To

Growing your own Crops

The growing popularity of sustainable living is inspiring more and more of us each day to begin growing our own crops. However, often due to space constraints, limited disposable income, or simply inexperience, many of us are hesitant about entering the seemingly complex world of grow your own.

Within this post, we will detail the necessary steps for successfully growing your own crops, applicable to every outdoor space, budget, and primed with beginners in mind. 

Seeds and Planting

Growing your own Crops

The most suitable seeds to sow will vary in accordance with the differing times of the year. If you  wish to begin growing your own during January (indoors), early potatoes and broad beans will prove reliable options. With the assistance of a heated propagator, celery and rhubarb will additionally be worthwhile choices. 

Similar to selecting the most appropriate seeds, the best method of their planting will depend on where you are within the year.  We therefore encourage you to continue reading for some helpful advice. 

Can I begin growing crops outside in January?  

For planting this early in the year, initially ‘starting off’ your crops indoors is recommended. For this temporary period, your seeds are best planted into a mix of sieved compost from your garden, and peat-free compost. If you are unable to obtain the former ingredient, simply using peat-free compost will be sufficient. 

When sowing your seeds into their containers, it is advised that you use 7.5 centimetre pots that are equipped with drainage holes. Please note, if you are planting broad beans, it is best to use a single container for each seed, and to make sure that the container is reasonably deep.

Each of your seeds should ideally be sown in rows that are well-distributed; this will enable each seedling to be easily watered, and transported when necessary.

It is no longer frosty outside, can I now begin planting?  

A guide to adopt is if the soil in your garden is loose, fluffy, and relatively warm to the touch, you can now commence your planting. Ideal crops to plant at this time include parsnips, broad beans, onions, beetroot, carrots, peas, spinach, and turnips. 

It is best to ensure that your seeds are planted in free-draining soil that is rich in organic matter, and experiences direct sun exposure for a minimum of half the day. Traditionally,  March will consist of the first month of the year regarded appropriate for sowing seeds straight into your garden. 

What is the easiest and most effective way to sow outside?  

When sowing, there are various techniques that you can adopt; these include direct sowing, station sowing, and thinning. 

The easiest method of growing your own crops is in the form of direct sowing, where your seeds will be planted directly into your garden, without necessitating an initial growing period in a greenhouse. 

To enhance the outcome of your sowing activities, it is beneficial to sow two or three seeds together, and to space them a few centimetres away from another two or three seeds that have been collectively planted. Once the seeds have developed their first leaves, you can then select the most healthy appearing plant, and thin out the other saplings accordingly. From this approach, which is also referred to as ‘thinning’, you are maximising the chances of growing a hardy, fruitful crop, that will neither have to compete for light, water, or nutrients. 

I don’t have a proper garden, can I still grow crops? 

If your outdoor space is restricted, you can instead use a few containers, or a raised bed or two. It is preferred that you use the native soil from your garden to fill your beds or containers, however, if you are unable to do so, you can purchase nutrient-rich soil from your local garden center. 

We sell a broad selection of affordable raised beds, available in a myriad of colours and sizes, available here

 

Caring for your Crops

Growing your own Crops

Once your seeds have been planted, it is important for their soil to be consistently moist. It is therefore recommended that you use a hose or watering can that releases a gentle stream of water. This will be achievable through an extremely fine nozzle. 

Once your seedlings have become established and are exhibiting steady growth, your watering activities can be reduced. Although precise watering needs will vary for each crop, a general rule to abide by is to water them every ten to fourteen days, that is, if there has been no rainfall. 

If your crops have initially been started off in a greenhouse, once each seedling has grown into a reasonable size, they should be placed outside in their containers for one to two weeks to harden off. When the soil is warm to the touch, your seedlings can then be planted into your garden, spaced six to nine inches apart. 

Protect your Crops

Although we must value slugs and snails for providing food for our wildlife and recycling vegetative matter, your seedlings can be extremely vulnerable to these creatures. To mitigate this, it is advised that you resist planting your crops too early in the year, and to not over-water.

Harvesting

Growing your own Crops

Assessing when your beloved crops are ready to be harvested can be rather puzzling. Size is never indicative of maturity, and whilst some plants can cope with their produce being partially harvested, others cannot.

A valuable guide to follow is if the ripest vegetables cannot be easily removed, they should be cut carefully with a knife.

Please read below for information surrounding the harvesting of all of the vegetables that have been detailed within this post. 

Harvesting Guides

Broad beans; These can be harvested when the beans become visible through their pod. 

Peas; A good indicator of ripeness is when each pod appears well-filled.

Celery; Generally, your celery can be harvested between August and October. To mitigate the risk of disease, each stalk should be rescinded from its base with a sharp knife. 

Rhubarb; The optimum time to harvest your rhubarb is when the stalks of their leaves are, or have, exceeded ten inches. Similar to celery, the stalks can again be rescinded from their base by a sharp knife. 

Early potatoes; It is advised that you wait for their flowers to open, and their buds to drop. Once the tubers themselves have become the size of an egg, it is a positive sign that they can be harvested. 

Parsnips; These crops can usually be harvested from the end of August until the end of January. A good indication of ripeness is once their foliage has begun to reduce. 

Onions;  Your onions can be harvested when the bulbs have achieved a large size and their apex has yellowed.

Beetroot; This crop can be harvested once the roots have exceeded the size of a golf ball.  Your beetroot can be lifted from the ground by gently holding the foliage and simultaneously levering beneath the root with a fork.  

Carrots; Although this is subject to variation depending on the type of carrot, if their shoulder ranges from half to three quarters of an inch in thickness, they can be harvested. 

Turnips; A degree of subjectivity surrounds the harvesting of turnips. Whilst some prefer younger roots, others relish larger bulbs. A general guide to use is if the turnip has had its greens removed,  if it has reached three inches in width, it is ready. For a turnip that still has its greens intact, if it has reached two inches, it can be harvested. 

Spinach; Upon being sown, your spinach will typically be ready for harvest in 37 to 45 days, once a rosette of several leaves becomes apparent.

 

Evie, Fire Pits, Garden Design, Make over

cosy autumn nights

Although summer garden parties are now a fond distant memory, there’s nothing stopping you from enjoying the most comfortable time of year outside in your garden. We’ve handpicked a selection of items designed to transform your outdoor space into a cosy place of sanctuary that you can enjoy, even during the Autumn nights.

You may be thinking, “Garden furniture? What about the rain?” but that is precisely why I have selected Teak furniture as this month’s bench of choice. Known for durability and its strength to withstand extreme weather conditions, teak furniture is ideal for anyone who seeks a comfortable bench with very little maintenance required. 

Due to its durability, teak is unlikely to suffer from rotting, termites, and many other damaging wood conditions. In fact, choosing teak with high quality wood and a high oil content is set to be your greatest investment all year. Warm and golden in colour, a teak bench is an Autumn garden essential, and usually big enough for nearly the whole family to share. Of course, if you’d like to give your teak bench more protection, you can opt for a furniture cover during non-use.

Does anything scream Autumn like toasting marshmallows by the fire? The best part is, you don’t need a big bonfire to do it. Let the natural elements keep you warm outside this Autumn with an outdoor fire pit. In cast iron, this classic firebowl ties in traditional tones with hard-wearing construction. Whether it’s the warmth you like, or simply the sound of the fire crackles as the wood burns, a firebowl is guaranteed to set the mood for your Autumn garden. 

It wouldn’t be a cosy evening without fluffy blankets now would it? It’s time to get the kettle on and wrap up under a big woven throw while you enjoy the crisp fresh air. Many gardeners will say, Autumn and Winter is when you work hard in your garden but Summer is when you get to enjoy it. With these additions, you can enjoy it all year round.

With Autumn, comes darker nights. Don’t let poor visibility stop you from getting outside and enjoying this season. Light up your garden into a magical magnificence with luxurious outdoor lighting. You could place these above your garden bench, by your back door, or even perfectly placed along your walkway. If traditional styles are to your taste, popular lighting options include decorative wall lights, stylish lamp posts, and glowing pedestal lights. Whereas, a favourite amongst modern gardeners are sparkling string lights and eye-catching hanging lanterns.

Shop the look:

Oxford 4 Seat Bench Teak Furniture

Cast Iron Rust Finish Fire Bowl

Hyde Park Outdoor Wall Lantern

Lifestyle Throws & Blankets

 

For more, be sure to keep up to date with us by following us on Pinterest, Facebook & Instagram. Tag your customer photos with #primroseuk for the chance to be featured!

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Evie at PrimroseEvie works in the Primrose Marketing Team.

Growing up in the English countryside, she likes nothing more than to be surrounded by nature’s peace and quiet, with the addition of the family pets of course!

Evie is passionate about all things digital marketing and loves the challenge of combining creativity with online content.

When not at her desk, you’ll typically find her in the gym, posting on social media, or watching a popular series on Netflix!

See all of Evie’s posts.

Gardening, Gardening Year, Gardens, Gary, How To, Plants

Autumn leaves waiting to be raked

The September heat is fading, and Autumn is in full swing. As it gets colder, the trees begin to change and nature becomes gold for a few months. We have put together a list of the essential gardening jobs for October to help you make the most out of the transitional season in your garden.

General 

  • Mulch the borders with compost if not done in the spring to boost the quality of your soil and help it retain water and nutrients during the colder months. 
  • Continue to tidy borders of weeds and leaves. These will become slippery over winter, but will also be harder to remove once the soil freezes.
  • Apply autumn lawn feed. These specialised feeds help to fortify your lawn from frost and icy conditions. 
  • Cut back perennials that have died down. 
  • Renovate old lawns or create new grass areas by laying turf. By doing this now you encourage root growth instead of leaf growth which allows your grass to survive the winter, and cuts down on and mowing in the cold

Animals 

  • Refill Feeders regularly This well help late migratory birds on their way, but also provide a constant food source for wintering birds. See our range of bird feeds here.  
  • Install insect hotels. This is the easiest time of year to find the raw materials you need to build an insect hotel. By doing it now you’ll also have it ready for the Insects try to get away from the cold. 

Plants 

  • Remove fallen leaves from roses to prevent blackspot – a fungal disease that can spread quickly to your whole rosegarden. 
  • Pot up your herbs and take them inside, either to a frost-free greenhouse or windowsill.
  • Move tender plants, including aquatic ones, into a greenhouse or conservatory
  • Bring potted tropical plants inside, including bananas, pineapple lilies (eucomis) and brugmansias.

Produce 

  • Begin planting garlic for a good summer harvest.  
  • Apply fleece to late season crops when frost is forecast
  • Harvest apples, pears, grapes and nuts

Greenhouse

  • Clean out the greenhouse to get rid of debris that can harbor overwintering pests
  • Attach guttering to the greenhouse and install a water butt, to make good use of autumn rain. You can reuse this water elsewhere in the garden, it also discourages water from freezing on the greenhouse
  • Wash greenhouse glazing to let in as much of the weaker autumn daylight as possible. This will keep your plants healthy as well as warm during the cold winter months.

It’s a busy time of the gardening year, but putting in some hard work now will give you great results in spring. Let us know what your up to on social media

 

Gary at PrimroseGary works in the Primrose product loading team, writing product descriptions and other copy. With seven years as a professional chef under his belt, he can usually be found experimenting in the kitchen or sat reading a book.

See all of Gary’s posts.