The diary of two novice gardeners and allotmenteers

Chris and Steve's Weblog – City Chickens

Tag Archive: propagation

Calla Lily Rhizomes

The calla lily grows from bulbs, more properly called rhizomes, and will, as most bulbs do, spread by producing even more bulbs. These bulbs can be divided and replanted in another location. The calla lily is a very hardy genus that will grow in more or less any soil as long as the climate is humid enough. In many of the countries where the calla lily originates it is thought of as a weed and is cut down to make way for agriculture. The calla lily can also be propagated through its seeds but it takes a little more time than just digging up the extra bulbs. I am sure that I shall try. I can’t resist seeds.

I unpacked these rhizomes today and was amazed at how big they were. I had thought that they were expensive at £3.95 for each bulb but having seen them I am filled with confidence of their success. The more I read about these fascinating plants the more I want to know. I had debated about whether to plant each bulb in a separate pot but decided in the end to put all three in a large 40cm patio pot. The directions on the pack say plant in rich potting soil and water sparingly until growth starts. Keep indoors until April and keep frost free. The three varieties that I have  planted are Auckland, a beautiful pink, Schwarzwalder, a deep almost black maroon and Albomaculata, white. I can see me buying more of these as they come in an amazing array of colours and are said to have a long flowering period. As with all bulbs grown in containers the soil needs to be changed either every year or every other year.

When grown in pots for keeping indoors the compost should be kept moist and plants should be given a weak solution of liquid plant food every three weeks while they are in growth. The best place to site them is in a west-facing window, where the air temperature does not rise much above 21°C. A south-facing window may be too hot when the sun is at its strongest in summer. Remove the flowers when they start to fade. When the plant has finished blooming, allow the leaves to turn brown, and reduce watering. Stop watering completely once all the foliage has died back.

Francis Masson, was born in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1741. In the 1760s, he went to work at Kew Gardens as an under-gardener, and was sent abroad to hunt for new plants. He sailed with James Cook on HMS Resolution to South Africa, landing in October 1772. Masson stayed there for three years, during which time he sent back to England more than 500 species of plant – including  Zantedeschia .  Information from Graham Clarke.

The red lily beetle, Lilioceris lilii,  loves the delicious lily foliage and will quickly decimate your plants. The only real answer is to seek them out and kill them. being a vivid scarlet red, they are easily spotted.  You should also look out for the eggs on the undersides of the leaves and the grubs.

Pumpkin – Mammoth, Jack o’Lantern and Snowman

Laura’s pumpkin seeds are already chitted and put into a module tray to grow on. I have put my seeds in between damp kitchen towels and in a plastic box to chit. Four Pumpkin Snowman – A beautiful snow white ornamental pumpkin that will hopefully grow to the size of a football if several fruit are left on one plant. Grow in  rich soil. Full sun, ample moisture and insect control should bring good results from this vigorous variety. Seeds and information from Seekay. Six Pumpkin Mammoth – This is a more traditional large orange fruit. Six Pumpkin Jack-o’-lantern – This is thought to be the best pumpkin for carving. Good for Halloween carving or cooking. Fruits have a round to elongated shape and taste good as well. Pumpkins are hungry feeders so a weekly dose of tomato food will help them to reach their full potential. Harvest in Autumn.

Seven of Laura’s pumpkin seedlings have gone with her friend Bryan to live with him and eventually grow in his allotment. Her other seven have been potted on and are taking over my room. My own seeds have still to germinate.

Leek Musselburgh and Porbella

4th March – I have sown seeds of Leek Musselburgh and Porbella in a pot of damp compost and placed the pot into a polythene bag. I shall keep the pot inside in the warm until germination which could be 14-21 days. The plants are intended to be put at the allotment. We have had mixed success with Leeks over the years and I am using up old seed. I still have some seeds left but I think when I use them up next year I may give this veg a miss in future. We do like to cook with leeks but they are quite cheap to buy and a bit hit and miss to grow successfully.

Sempervivum Hybridum – Hens and Chickens

I wanted to have a go at growing these unusual plants mainly because I can remember them from the garden at our prefab where I lived from the age of six months to twenty one when I left to get married. My mom always referred to them as hens and chickens. I ordered the seeds from Seekay at 99p for 250 seeds. when they came in a tiny plastic tube I was amazed at the size of the seeds. They are miniscule. Like dust. Today, 1st March, I have scattered a few onto a flat tray of sandy compost, not covered them but put the tray into a polythene sleeve and put in on the window ledge. This is another one on my wish list for around the pond. The soil is quite gritty there and I can place a few rocks for them to grow amongst. Update 7th March – Much to my surprise I was excited this morning to find that quite a few of these seeds had germinated. They are very tiny but gave me a bit of a lift this morning. 22nd March and these tiny seedlings haven’t moved on much. I have read that they are hardy plants but I suspect that the process of getting them to that point is a little more tricky.

Sempervivum hybridum is an old-fashioned favourite often seen in planters. Commonly referred to as Hens and Chicks, this perennial plant is unique and forms clusters of fleshy rosettes. The foliage colours can vary from greens to bronze-reds and all shades between. The succulent foliage spreads and produces a mat of foliage. It grows well in full sun to partial shade and prefers well-drained soil. Hens & Chicks ground cover seed can be started either indoors or directly outside. If starting inside, start the seed 6 – 8 weeks before the end of frost season. If starting outdoors, wait until frost danger has passed and soil temperatures have warmed to 70F. Press the seed into the soil but do not cover it. Keep the seed consistently moist until germination occurs which is usually within 21 days. For transplanting into the garden, wait until  after last frost and space the plants about 24 ” apart. Amazon.

Sempervivum means ‘always alive’. Also called houseleeks, Sempervivum are commonly grown in containers but they can thrive in bricks, driftwood and between rocks, due to their ability to grow in very little compost. South-facing rockeries, gravel gardens and vertical walls also make good habitats. They perform best in a sunny position in well-drained compost with sharp horticultural grit added for drainage. A layer of grit added to the surface of the compost further aids drainage.  Houseleeks are most valued for their distinctive rosettes of succulent, spirally patterned foliage, although they also bear attractive flowers from spring to summer. Each rosette is a separate plant and is monocarpic which means that it flowers once and then dies but is soon replaced by other new rosettes called offsets. These offsets can be separated and planted up, and will then grow into new clumps. Sempervivum don’t need feeding, but do benefit from being repotted each year into compost containing slow-release fertiliser. http://www.gardenersworld.com/plants/plant-inspiration/growing-sempervivums/.

Mirabalis Jalapa Marbles Mix – Marvel of Peru


Mirabilis Jalapa is an outstanding plant that will produce flowers that are marbled in colours of red, white and yellow. The flowers open in the early morning and evening , Sow seeds between February and April on the surface of a good quality seed compost and cover lightly,  Seeds can take up to a month to germinate. DO NOT EXCLUDE LIGHT as this helps germination.  Keep the compost moist but not waterlogged.  Once large enough to handle transplant into 3″ pots and grow on. When all risk of frost has passed plant out in Sunny well drained site with rich soil. Info, seeds and pictures from Seekay. Four-o-clocks are bushy annuals with colourful flowers and a sweet lemon or orange fragrance. They grow equally well in part shade as well as full sun. They begin flowering in midsummer when sown directly as seed, but will flower earlier if grown as transplants. The individual flowers open early in the morning and late afternoon and are also called four o clock flowers for that reason. They often will stay open until the following morning then close and die.  A single plant may contain different coloured flowers depending on the mix.

I received these seeds today and am looking forward to growing them. They sound very interesting. I plan to soak a few seeds overnight with a view to sowing in modules. I was pleased to learn that they have a  citrus scent too. I have sown these seeds today Wednesday 1st February and apparently they can take up to thirty days to germinate. Update – 12th March and there is one two inch seedling standing alone like a Meer cat on guard and quite a few seeds showing signs of growth. It was worth the forty day wait. 20th March I have potted on six strong seedlings.

 

 

Arenaria Montana – Mountain Sandwort

Arenaria Montana is a classic little alpine or rock garden plant. The plant has narrow, glossy green leaves that form prostrate mats of foliage that are evergreen. In mid-spring, Mountain Sandwort is blanketed by relatively large, white flowers.  Whilst it does best in full sun to partial shade, it is considered to be drought-tolerant. It is not fussy as to soil type or pH and is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. Plants will grow to be only 2″ tall at maturity. Its foliage tends to remain low and dense to the ground and is slow growing. Their ground-hugging habit means that this useful plant can be used at the front of the border or, it can be used as a lawn substitute for low foot traffic areas. They are at their loveliest spilling over edges of walls and will quickly fill in spaces between stepping stones or trail down the sides of walls. RHS award 1993.

Sow in spring or in autumn. Prepare pots or trays with good free draining seed compost; moisten by standing in water, then drain. Surface sow two seeds per pot or cell and press them gently down to firm them in. Cover the seed with a fine layer of vermiculite if you have it.  Seal pots in a polythene bag or cover trays with clear plastic lids until after germination. It is important to keep soil slightly moist but not wet. Remove the covering once the first seedlings appear. Germination can take up to 30 days. If seeds do not germinate by 4 weeks remove pots/tray to a cool shaded area. Seedlings are usually large enough to handle after 4 weeks. Transplant the seedlings into 3½” pots. Two seedlings can be planted to one pot. Place the pots in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse to grow on.  Before transplanting outdoors, harden off gradually. They do best in moist but well draining soils.

Arenaria Montana has a shallow root system and can dry out very quickly. Cover substrate with vermiculite or mulch to retain water and keep your eye on small plants until they establish themselves. A relatively low maintenance perennial, simply remove damaged foliage in spring and fertilise with a complete balanced fertiliser, don’t fertilise after mid September. It should only be pruned after flowering to avoid removing any of the current season’s flowers.

Arenaria Montana is native to mountainous regions of south-western Europe from the Pyrenees of France to Portugal.

The genus name Arenaria is taken from the Latin arena meaning sand referring to the sandy habitats of many species. The species name Montana means simply ‘of the mountains’. Arenaria Montana is a member of the Caryophyllaceous family, a cousin of the popular Dianthus genus.

Today, 6th February, I sowed all twenty seeds received from Seekay at a cost of £1.22, I put them two to a module. Now I must wait for thirty days for germination. From past experience I know that Alpines aren’t easy to grow. We are planning on rebuilding the area around our old pond this year and these were  something I thought would be good there. Update 16th Feb – three green shoots showing after ten days.

Cerinthe Major Purpurascens – Honeywort

I haven’t grown these plants before and they first came to my attention whilst watching an episode of Life in a Cottage Garden. Carole Klein was extolling their virtues and showing us how to start them from seed. The plant, fully grown in her own garden, looked enormous but I decided then that I musts give them a try. I have put just two seeds into a little tepid water to soak and plan to sow them tomorrow, 6th February. The individual seeds are quite big. I bought mine from Higgledy at £1.99 for 10 seeds. There were actually 12 in the packet. Germination should be about two weeks. First seedling through after 8 days.

Cerinthe is a beautiful hardy annual. It has oval, fleshy blue-green leaves, mottled with white, and rich purple-blue, tubular flowers held inside sea blue bracts. Bees love it. For early blooms sow in pots indoors in early spring. Alternatively sow outdoors in April. Once introduced into the garden, self-sown seedlings will mean that it rarely disappears. information from BBC site.

Sowing Brassicas

I have sown the first trays of Brassicas for the year. One 20 module tray of Brussel Sprouts Evesham Special. I have put more than one seed to a section as the seeds are not new this year. One large module tray including 6 Romanesco, 6 Cauli Autumn Giant, 6 Cabbage Primo, 6 Cabbage Derby Day, 6 Cabbage Glory of Enkhuisen and 6 Cabbage Kilaxy. Sown on the 4th February so I should see some signs of life in ten to fifteen days. They are all brassicas that I have grown before many times. Six Romanesco through after five days. Romanesco potted on today 16th Feb. Cauliflower Autumn Giant potted on too 16th Feb.

The GOE are from Seekay at 75p for 100 seeds. The Romanesco and the Autumn Giant Cauliflower, 65p for 50, are new seeds this year but all the others are at least one year old.

Geum Mrs Bradshaw

Geum Mrs J. Bradshaw is a clump forming herbaceous perennial with fuzzy, dark green pinnate leaves and erect purple stems supporting double flowers. The rich scarlet blooms set against emerald green foliage are a bonus in the border. These hardy perennial plants will flower all summer from June right through to September. An excellent Geum variety awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit for its reliable performance, stability of colour and form and good resistance to pests and diseases. Cut back the foliage after flowering to encourage new growth.

 

 

 

 

Only two of the seedlings made it through the Winter and they have been potted on again into five inch modules.

Rudbeckia Orange Fudge – Brown Eyed Susan

Today, 30th January, I was presented with a packet of Rudbeckia Rustic Dwarf seeds with a last sowing date of this year. I have sprinkled the whole packet onto a tray of moist compost and put it into a polythene bag and look forward to seeing some seed leaves pushing through in a couple of weeks. This vibrant coloured flower is also called Cone Flower, and I had some of those in the perennial seedlings that I bought from T&M. Unfortunately they didn’t survive the Winter.

History : Rudbeckias are members of the daisy family and were named by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus to honour two eighteenth century botany professors, Olof Rudbeck the Elder and Olof Rudbeck the Younger. Linnaeus is reported to have told his teacher , Rudbeck the Younger, “so long as the earth shall survive, and each spring shall see it covered with flowers, the rudbeckia will preserve your glorious name”.

Germination update – 5th February and lots of green seedlings pushing through after only one week. Very good for seeds dated 2005.