Bulbs, Flowers, Gardening, Planting, Plants, Scott

There are a wide range of plants for spring that you can sow now in April. Read our quick guide below to some staple planting options for your garden.  

Pond Plants

Pond Plants

With the weather beginning to warm now is a great time to introduce plants to your pond. The warmer temperatures will give them plenty of time to establish. Try not to delay too much between purchasing and planting these as drying them out can be damaging. Plant into mesh containers and fill with aquatic compost before submerging. Be sure to include some oxygenating plants like Hornwort to help keep the water clear.

Perennials

Spring Plants - Digitalis

Getting plants into your garden beds now will ensure you have a beautiful display come summer. Plants like Digitalis or Campanula are perfect plants for spring and for adding colour to your garden whilst also being a great source of pollen for bees and butterflies. Water new plants regularly to help them get established and give an extra helping hand with occasional top-ups of organic compost or well-rotted manure. 

Summer bulbs

Spring Plants - Dahlia

Dahlias, Gladioli and Peonies are all perfect summer bulbs for getting in the ground now in preparation for summer. Make sure they get a sunny position in the garden with some well-drained soil. Planting across a number of weeks will give your garden a procession of flowers emerging one after the other so you can enjoy continuous colour outside for the season. 

Climbers

Clematis

Climbing plants are a great way to update a space and bring new life to areas of your garden. They can be used to cover trellis or pergolas in characterful blooms or serve a practical purpose of transforming unsightly walls or buildings. They’re also a great asset for smaller gardens where space is a premium and growing vertically make the most use of available space. Plants such as clematis, honeysuckle and Ipomoea are all great varieties to try sowing.   

Nicotiana 

One of the best ways to step up your garden game is to plant for all of the senses. You don’t want to limit the enjoyment of your garden to just what you see – think about your other senses, in particular, what you can smell. Nicotiana has a delightful fragrance that is very enjoyable on summer evenings. Plant these in March and April to enjoy when summer rolls around. 

Poppies

Spring Plants - Poppies

Instantly recognisable with luscious scent and colour, poppies will always bring delight to your garden. They can be sown from March to May in time for blooms in summer and autumn – a great plant for creating lasting colour with variations of interest. 

Scott at PrimroseScott Roberts is a copywriter currently making content for the Primrose site and blog. When at his desk he’s thinking of new ways to describe a garden bench. Away from his desk he’s either looking at photos of dogs or worrying about the environment. He does nothing else, just those two things.

See all of Scott’s posts.

 

Jorge, Plants, Trees

fan trained tree

Pruning apple and other fruit trees is especially important in a tree’s first five years, as it allows one to create a structure best suited to the space allocated. Best undertaken just before a tree emerges from hibernation, pruning involves three types of cuts, namely heading, thinning and notching, which can produce highly varied training systems both free standing and high density.

Why Should I Prune?

Pruning is not a particularly time consuming process, as it’s only necessary a few times a year. It allows one to maximise value, promoting plant health and reducing size. It’s essential for many fruiting plants, such as raspberries, gooseberries, and many fruit trees, which often only produce on new wood, with old unproductive wood unable to fruit.

How Does Pruning Affect Plants?

To understand how pruning affects plants, you first have to understand how plants function.

Plants harness the sun’s energy to produce sugars through the process of photosynthesis, which primarily occurs in leaves. They absorb water and nutrients through roots, which flow up by capillary action. As sugars and water move around plants, so can many other substances, such as hormones, which control plant processes.

The most important hormones are auxins and cytokinins, which act to give plants their structure. Auxins are produced in plants’ leaves and flow downwards, while cytokinins are produced in the roots and flow upwards. Auxins act to simulate root and shoot growth and cytokinins the production of lateral buds, which are initiated in a shoot’s tip. Auxins also act to inhibit cytokinin through a process of apical dominance.

When you prune a plant, the auxin-cytokinin pathway is interrupted. Without auxin flowing downwards, apical dominance is broken and dormant buds emerge at the shoot tip. Hence, pruning encourages branching. It also temporarily upsets a tree’s balance between top and bottom, causing cytokinin to become dominant.

Types Of Cuts

The most common cuts practiced are known as heading and thinning. Heading removes part of a shoot or limb, while thinning removes an entire shoot or limb. As pruning causes branching, heading cuts alters a tree’s natural habit, causing unnatural branching. As thinning cuts completely remove a limb, a tree’s habit is unchanged, albeit with missing branches. Heading isn’t necessarily bad, and is commonly used with fruiting plants, but it’s important to note by heading trees you are altering its natural habit.

Training vs Pruning

It’s important to practice pruning and never let a tree get out of hand, as remedial pruning is more challenging and detrimental to the tree’s health than bi-annual maintenance. In the early years of your tree’s life, it’s best to practice formative pruning or training to establish an ideal form. For example, with hedging plants you may cut down to 15-30cm to encourage branching at ground level, giving you a thick screen from bottom to top. Training can take a long time, up to 4-5 years, but gives you the best value for the rest of a tree’s life.

Pruning is more about function and size. It can be used to encourage fruiting, by removing old unproductive wood, or simply maintaining an ideal size. In early years, you may reduce vigour, removing weak or crowded growth. In later years, you may try to promote vigour, removing old unproductive wood, and remove shading branches, maximising sunlight penetration.

Establishing a Framework

Note: most trees will arrive 2 years old and have already been pruned at the nursery. Some steps below may be unnecessary.

The point in the trunk from which the first branch emerges is known as the head. Trees can be low or high-headed depending on what height the first branch is maintained. Low headed trees are structurally stable, easy to harvest and necessarily produce earlier (because less branches are removed). While high headed trees are disadvantaged, they are grown for their ornamental value.

The major branches that emerge close to the head are known as the scaffold branches (and branches growing off the scaffold branches secondary scaffolds). Selecting the best primary scaffold branches is key to establishing productive fruit trees, as because any tree has limited resources it’s best to concentrate on a few scaffolds. Any young tree will have dozens of shoots to choose from but only select the strongest, removing weak growth and those too close together. Optimal scaffolds have wide crotches, characterised by gaps between the trunk and scaffold, which ensures they are mechanistically strong, grow horizontally and have a reduced risk of disease. Wide crotches can be established by weighing down branches.

Training Systems

Left unpruned, trees grow into structurally stable forms able to withstand strong winds and bear fruit load. However, they grow too tall, with shading of the interiors. What is required is known as codominance, whereby the main stem is relegated in importance, and more energy is transferred into the scaffolds on which the bulk of the fruit is produced. Multiple, training systems were developed to establish codominance.

The open centre system involves severing the main trunk up to a 1m of newly planted trees. Early severation reduces the dominance of the main stem and leads to branching. From these branches 3-5 are selected, growing in different directions. The system is ideal for growing and harvesting fruit, but isn’t mechanically strong as the heavy scaffolds are so close together.

Open centre is sometimes known as a vase.

The delayed open system involves first selecting a few scaffolds and then severing the main trunk, higher up. A problem with this method is that adequate branching (to be selected as scaffolds) is not guaranteed.

The modified leader system is an intermediary between the two extremes. Here, the main trunk is left to develop until it reaches 2-3m and growth is restricted. Scaffolds are selected as normal, however laterals higher up the trunk are selected to compete with the central leader, reducing apical dominance. The central leader and the laterals are periodically pruned, maintaining the tree at one size.

High Density Training Systems

Better suited to the average garden are high density training systems such as fan, cordon, espalier and stepover, although the latter two are only suitable for apples. Most high density systems require rigid horizontal wires run at intervals, bamboo canes, weights and twine or ties to keep branches in place.

Fan and espalier require more vigorous rootstocks such as the M26/MM106. Stepovers require very dwarfing rootstocks, specifically the M27. With cordons the M27 is again recommended, but the M26 will suffice. It’s important you choose spur fruiting trees as shortening any tip bearers cause a drastic loss in fruit output. Where possible, choose maiden trees; they are not only easier to shape, but also cheaper.

Espalier training involves repeatedly severing a young tree’s main trunk to establish tiers of branching on one horizontal axis. A first cut is made about 40cm above the ground, above a few strong buds. Once the buds have grown, two opposing branches are then tied to galvanised wire, and weighed down, ensuring they grow horizontally. Another branch is then selected to be the new central leader. This one is then headed around 30cm from the first tier, and the process repeated. Up to 4 tiers can be established this way.

An espalier apple tree

With fan training, the first cut is again made about 40cm from the ground, but this time the resultant branches are trained at 45 degree angles, attached to bamboo canes. From each of these two branches, four shoots are chosen, two growing upwards, one on the lower side and another to further extend the arm, and these are again attached to bamboo canes in turn. No central leader is tied in.

A fan-trained peach tree.

Cordons are very simple to set up and are often grown at 45 degree angles. Every year, the leader needs to be shortened by about a third, and branches shortened to three or four buds.

With stepovers, you are carefully bending the central leader until it grows horizontally, tying it to a low-lying wire. The key is to tie at multiple points as to distribute pressure.

When Should I Prune?

Pruning during the growing season allows quick recovery. Just before the end of dormancy is ideal, although pruning in this period may remove flower buds. It’s common to wait till after flowering, but you can continue tidying to midsummer. Avoid pruning late summer and early autumn as it will make plants vulnerable to frost injury.

Avoid pruning during times of drought. Leaves produce a plant’s food, and severe damage to a plant’s production capability can result in death.

Maintenance Pruning

Remove the 3 D’s: dead, dying and diseased wood. These will only worsen your plant’s health.

Remove water shoots and suckers. Water shoots are vigorous shoots that grow from the top of a branch upwards. They will not fruit, but cause crowding and waste energy. Suckers emerge from a tree’s roots, and will compete with the central stem for resources. With grafted trees, suckers will be a completely different variety entirely.

Notching is another cut, similar to heading, but more precise. It involves making a notch into the bark, above a bud, interrupting the flow of auxins, causing the bud to grow into branch. It can be used to force secondary and tertiary scaffolds in the optimal locations.

Additional Tips

Consider how large the secondary scaffolds will end up. If two secondary scaffolds are close when young, they’ll definitely cross when old. Remove one.

Consider biomechanics. A tree adapts to its exposure. Leaving it lopsided, or without too many branches, can cause a plant to sway in the wind, and potentially topple.

Consider shading. Often branches are left on the south side to shade the trunk during peak heat.

Consider rootstock. If you want to experiment choose a vigorous rootstock. Extreme dwarfing rootstocks do not grow fast enough to establish an elaborate structure and are best left as a bush.

Additional Resources

Skillscult is an invaluable resource for pruning, and expands upon all the concepts in this post.

Birds, Bulbs, Flowers, Gardening, Gardening Year, Gardens, Grow Your Own, Planting, Plants, Scott, Wildlife

With Spring truly on its way now and the clocks going forward, there’s plenty to be doing in the garden. March gardening is all about setting yourself up for the return of warmer days. With a little preparation, you’ll have an outdoor space filled with colourful blooms and happy wildlife. This is an important month for wildlife when insects start becoming more abundant, birds begin working on their nests and smaller mammals come out of their winter hibernation.    

march garden

General

  • Mulch to protect soil: bare soil is in a vulnerable state as it’s coming out of frosty weather and heading into drier, warmer days. This means water will start evaporating from the soil; to ensure that doesn’t happen too much, a good layer of organic mulch can keep water in and also help stop the growth of unwanted weeds.  
  • Begin mowing the lawn: grass will now start growing more steadily. A lawn will stay greener the less you take from it each time you mow so little and often is ideal this time of year. 
  • Plan your summer planting: start thinking ahead to summer and begin planting your summer flowering bulbs.
  • Protect plants from pests: warmer weather means more pests will be coming into the garden. Try to stick to natural pesticides where possible and if chemicals are required be sure to use it late in the day when the majority of beneficial insects will have made themselves scarce. 

garden mulch

Plants

  • Plant summer bulbs: you may be enjoying some colour from spring bulbs but now is a great time to think about summer planting. Plan out your arrangments now to ensure you get the full benefit of their colours come summer. 
  • Plant in containers: lots of plants can successfully be grown in containers; a great option for when space is limited to perhaps just a balcony or patio area. Hardy plants like roses can be an excellent choice for providing dramatic colour without taking up lots of space. 
  • Relocate shrubs: if you want o re-arrange the layout of your garden a little, now is a great time to move evergreen shrubs. The shrub will not have begun taking water from the soil yet so moving it now will give it time to recover and prepare for a good growing season. 
  • Control weeds: use a fork or hoe to get ahead on clearing garden weeds. This can help prevent more serious outbreaks later in the year.

summer flowers

Produce

  • Prepare seedbeds: break down large clumps of soil before raking over to create a ridge effect. Apply an organic fertiliser two weeks before sowing any seeds and your bed will be ready for growing success.  
  • Plant shallots and onions: a perfect grow your own project that can be used in all sorts of dishes. Onions can begin growing in march and finish off in the summer. 
  • Plant early potatoes: seed potatoes can be planted in trenches with an organic fertiliser to get off to the best start.  
  • Sow herbs: hardy herbs like chives, dill, marjoram and coriander are perfect for sowing this time fo year. Plant seeds into drills and pant out when large enough o handle. 

herb garden

Greenhouse

  • Plant summer seeds: you can propagate summer blooms like marigolds in the greenhouse in preparation for warmer days in summer when they can be transplanted outside.
  • Clean the glass: with the warm weather returning you can give the glass a good clean to remove the marks left by winter and maximise the amount of light getting through.
  • Plant summer vegetables: courgettes, cucumbers, squashes and sweetcorn are ideal for planting in the greenhouse ready for transplanting to the outside when the summer warms the garden properly. 

summer saplings

Animals

  • Prepare for hedgehogs: hedgehogs will start coming out of hibernation. Having food and shelter in your garden as well as easy access in and out can make your garden a preferred hedgehog spot. 
  • Feed the birds: this time of year can see a scarcity of wild food for birds who will be working hard to build nests in preparation for chicks. Give them a helping hand by putting out appropriate foods. 
  • Provide a home: butterflies and bees will begin to emerge. Having bug hotels and feeding stations in your garden can make your space a sanctuary for these important pollinators.  
  • Top up birdbaths: make sure the birds in your garden have open access to water for cleaning and drinking. 

hedgehogs

Scott at PrimroseScott Roberts is a copywriter currently making content for the Primrose site and blog. When at his desk he’s thinking of new ways to describe a garden bench. Away from his desk he’s either looking at photos of dogs or worrying about the environment. He does nothing else, just those two things.

See all of Scott’s posts.

Decoration, Flowers, Garden Design, Gardening, Gardening & Landscaping, Gardens, How To, Indoor, Indoor Plants, Mothers' Day, Plants, RHS

The Best Climbing Plants to Grow in Pots

The use of climbing plants within both your garden and home can forge stunning depth, create floral interest, and even conceal unsightly fences and walls. Climbers are additionally commended for their ability to attract and accommodate wildlife, whether they are nesting birds, butterflies, or bees. 

The use of pots in growing climbing plants is often fundamental, particularly if you are seeking to adorn your patio, terrace, or balcony space. Pots will further enable you to retain greater control over the soil pH, drainage, and positioning that your climbing plants will receive. A garden with soil that is rich in fine clay particles will likely experience poor drainage, nevertheless, planting climbers into pots will mitigate these risks and ensure hospitable growing conditions. 

Within this post, we will detail five climbing plants considered most suited to being grown in pots. This post has been structured to reflect differing gardens, and possible themes that you may wish to evoke; covering the cottage garden, the urban garden, the simplistic garden, the creation of interesting arches, and concluding with how climbing plants can be utilised indoors. 

The Cottage Garden

The Best Climbing Plants to Grow in Pots

Within the traditional cottage garden, you can expect to see lupins, dianthus, delphiniums, lavender, and campanula, to name a few examples. Nevertheless, a rose’s abundance of large, scented petals that are so neatly tied together will always offer a classically graceful feel. Aside from this variety’s monumentally beautiful appearance, this ‘Giardina‘ climber rose will happily grow in pots; ideally on a sunny patio adorning the front of your home, or arranged around an archway. 

A pretty modern climbing rose, this variety will bear large, pale-pink blooms with delicate petals that increase in vibrancy towards the centre of each flower. Repeat flowering, this rose will display stunning blooms from Summer through to Autumn; gracing your garden with a long-lasting display. Each flower will boast a fresh scent with delicate floral undertones, and will make a stunning cut flower, which will keep for a generous period of time when placed into a vase.

The Best Climbing Plants to Grow in Pots

With Mother’s Day merely a matter of weeks away, this rose variety would prove a wonderfully sentimental gift, that can be appreciated year after year. It can be ordered here

The Urban Garden

The Best Climbing Plants to Grow in Pots

Whether they are  located in London, Bristol, or Manchester, it will never be unusual for urban homes to have smaller-sized gardens, and, when paired with residents who may lead busier lives, ensuring an interesting, flourishing garden can entail an inconvenient compromise on time. 

A climbing plant considered low-maintenance, visually-impactful, and suited to pots, consists of our jasmine climber (Trachelospermum jasminoides).  This jasmine plant will grace your outdoor space with delicate, luminous-white blooms that will release a beautifully sweet and relaxing scent. The shape of each flower somewhat resembles that of a wind spinner, which will form enchanting silhouettes within your garden. Accompanying these blooms is glossy green foliage, which will evolve into a bronze shade during Winter, and as such, you can enjoy elegant seasonal displays with very minimal effort.

The Best Climbing Plants to Grow in Pots

This jasmine plant can be ordered here. 

The Simplistic Garden

The Best Climbing Plants to Grow in Pots

Making floral additions to your garden can necessitate plenty of thinking, specifically, ‘will this work with my other plants?’. If you also live with those who have tastes that differ to your own, you may ponder even more. This is often why a simplistic approach is so convenient. For this theme, we have selected a climbing plant that we believe will satisfy every possible taste.

Clematis is often the first climbing plant that will spring to a gardener’s mind when considering container or pot growing. Even when planted into a very small pot, clematis plants will provide a magnificent flowering display- with the colder months included.  

The Best Climbing Plants to Grow in Pots

This ‘Miss Bateman’ variety of clematis will produce a rosette of large, oval-shaped petals in a crisp-white shade, contrasting beautifully against a delicate yellow and maroon centre. Vigorously-growing, this plant will flower in Summer, and again in early Autumn. They can be ordered through this link

Forming Interesting Arches

The Best Climbing Plants to Grow in Pots

Aside from adding charming structure to your garden, arches are a wonderful means of allowing scents to linger, and varying colours to intersperse with one another. Benefitting from an excellent growing habit, and relishing more sheltered areas, our ‘Blue Passion Flower’ plant is a fitting option for enhancing your garden’s arches or archways.

Displaying maroon, violet and white operculums that delicately rest on large white sepals, passion flowers are arguably one of the most unusually-structured plants around. Hardy, and with a vigorous growing habit, this passion flower will flourish within a pot or container; ideally placed in pairs beside each side of an archway for a subtle, yet highly exotic edge.

The Best Climbing Plants to Grow in Pots

This passion flower plant , which can be ordered here, proudly carries the Royal Horticultural Society’s ‘Award of Garden Merit’; affirming its reliable performance, availability, stable form and colour, good constitution, and resistance to pests and diseases.  

The Use of Indoor Climbing Plants

The Best Climbing Plants for Pots

The use of climbing plants need not be confined to the outdoors; the benefits of accommodating climbing plants within your home do not differ from those of house plants. This monstera plant will absorb harmful gases via its leaves and roots, contributing to a healthier environment for you and your loved ones. Studies have additionally linked the presence of indoor plants to reduced stress, enhanced creativity, and also productivity. Interestingly, the latter benefit has been evidenced by the reaction time of employees increasing by 12% when in close proximity to house plants.

One of our favourite climbing plants that will happily grow indoors is our ‘Monkey Leaf Monstera’, which features large, oval-shaped leaves that display unusual perforation, resulting in an appearance comparable to Swiss cheese. This plant will arrive bound to a moss pole, enabling it to form interesting shape within your home. 

The Best Climbing Plants to Grow in Pots

This charming Monstera deliciosa can be purchased through the following link

If you wish to know more surrounding the air-purifying abilities of plants, you can find additional information here