Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Tag Archive: propagation

Cleome Spinosa – American Spider Flower 2017

Cleome Violet Queen will be the next seeds to go into some damp compost. These half hardy annuals were £1.99 for 200 from Higgledy who recommend sowing between January and March indoors. Best sown on the surface of moist compost and can take up to four weeks to germinate. I shall sow just twenty of them tomorrow 19th January. It seems that these plants can grow as high as six feet so I shall have to be careful where I put them. Eye catching and strongly scented, the deep violet flowers and palm like leaves of this beautiful plant will add a tropical look to the late summer garden. so say the people at Twenty tiny seedling are now fighting for survival on the window ledge. Germination was great at 100% and took only ten days!. Let’s see if I can get them through to flowering.

Cleome spinosa Violet Queen is a sumptuous purple, which looks good with almost anything, particularly good with verbenas, dahlias and sunflowers. Cleomes are an elegant, very long lasting annual,  flowering longer than all the other half-hardies. Sow early. The only downside to Cleomes are their thorns. Information from the Sarah Raven site.

I have bought new seeds from Seekay of two other colours of this beautiful flower. On doing a bit of research I see that I can sow these directly in the ground now, May/June so I am looking forward to doing just that. The two new varieties are Helen Campbell, White and Rose Queen, a subtle pink.

Despite it’s recent revival in popularity Cleome hassleriana ‘Rose Queen’ is actually an heirloom flower having been grown in gardens since 1817. A beautiful variety with deep, rose-pink flowers that fade to light pink. The large, open, airy flowers have a strong scent and bloom throughout the summer until frosts.  Eye-catching spidery flowers and palm-like leaves add a tropical look to the late summer garden. Cleome are very easy to grow are generally free of pests and considered drought tolerant. Despite that fact they grow their best in moist but well drained soil and full sunlight. The spidery flowers make attractive cut flowers and the seed heads can be dried and added to bouquets.  Frost and cold winds are lethal to this elegant South American annual. If you wish to start them early in the year do so under glass and only plant out after the danger of frosts has passed. Sow indoors in April or outdoors May to June. Cleome like good light levels and germinate quickly if sown quite late. Start them in April or early May. If planted too early the seeds will not germinate and may rot. Sow indoors 4 to 6 weeks before last frost, or sow directly where they are to flower after all danger of frost has passed.

Cleome is a genus of annual flowering plants with 170 species. Cleomaceae are a small family of flowering plants in the order Brassicales comprising about 300 species in 10 genera. Cleome are native to southern South America. This heirloom flower has been grown in gardens since 1817. The genus name Cleome is derived from an ancient name of a mustard like plant, in reference to its seed pods. The species hassleriana is named after Emile Hassler 1864-1937 a Swiss botanist and plant collector. The synonym Spinacia is taken from the Latin spina, meaning a prickle or thorn. Because of their unique flower clusters, these blossoms got the nickname spider flower. Although most flowers have a multitude of meanings cleome one. An old-fashioned expression that asks the recipient to elope or run away with the giver.

The white Cleome Spinosa Helen Campbell looks good in large drifts on its own or intermingled with white cosmos Purity. It’s 16th May and a warm rainy day so I am about to go and sow seeds of both in the white border. The advice is to put seeds on the surface of the soil as they need light to germinate.






Sweet Pea Beaujolais – Higgledy

This morning the seeds from Higgledy arrived with a very clear explanation for the delay in delivery. They were well packed and look of good quality. First to sow will be ten Sweet Pea Beaujolais They are sitting in a little warm water to soak ready for sowing tomorrow. I received twenty seeds at a cost of £1.99 so more expensive than Seekay. I plan to sow the next ten in March and compare the results. Update – seeds were sown on 19th January and to date, 30th, only four have germinated

Along with a hand written notes Higgledy’s Benjamin enclosed a free packet of Phacelia Tanacetifolia.This plant is completely new to me but I am assured that it attracts bees and hoverflies to the garden so I shall give it a try.




Lemon Tree

I have a lemon tree in the garden that I think I bought from many years ago. It used to be in a pot in the porch but at some point I transplanted it into the ground. This year I plan to move it again into a new large pot and am busy reading up about the best soil mix needed.

I have read that Lemon trees can be grown in pots outdoors in summer and brought inside for the winter. The fragrant flowers appear all year round apparently but are especially abundant in late winter. The fruit ripens up to twelve months later so they often flower and fruit at the same time. Although I have had this plant for many years I know very little about how to care for it. Although I have read conflicting information I think my best bet is to wait until Spring to re-pot this lemon tree. Pot and compost are waiting so here’s to Spring.

I bought a pack of lemons from the supermarket last week and just for fun I have put ten collected seeds in some damp kitchen towel and sealed them into a plastic freezer box to try and get them to sprout. Following advice from Lee of Project Diaries on YouTube I have peeled away the outer husk from the seed. It’s Thursday 12th January so I will be recording the germination time. Update 18th January one of the seeds has germinated. It is seven days since I set them. I have put the sprouted lemon seed into a 3″ pot of compost today 19th January. Monday 23rd January and two more seeds have sprouted. I have put them in damp compost like the other one. However the first one put in on 19th has still to show its head above the compost.

The seed must still be moist when it is buried into the soil. Sow the seed about half an inch deep in the middle of the pot.Spray gently with water from a spray bottle.Cover with clear plastic. Place the pot in a warm place until it sprouts. Don’t allow to dry out. After about two weeks, when the leaves emerge take the plastic cover off. Two weeks to wait then. One week on, 29th Jan, one seedling through.


Just before Christmas my friend Tallulah gave me a lovely bunch of flowers and the Carnations still look fresh today. I bought myself some yellow ones from Lidl on Sunday. It’s been a long time since I bought myself any flowers. I was very pleased to see that three of the stems had shoots still attached and I have taken them off to try and root them. 20 days and tiny hair like roots are beginning to grow.

SeeKay Carnation - Hardy Border Mix - 300 seeds - Perennial

Friday 20th January 2017 – Carnation Hardy Border Mix – seeds have been sown on moist compost in a container with drainage holes and enclosed in a polythene bag to retain moisture and heat. Seeds from Seekay 300 for 99p. Update ten out of twenty seedlings showing after six days. 

Choose a container with drainage holes in it filling the container within an inch or two from the top with potting soil. Sprinkle the seeds across the top of the soil and cover them lightly. Water until the soil is moist and then wrap the container in a clear plastic bag to create a greenhouse effect. The beginnings of your carnation garden plants should poke through the soil in two to three days. Move the seedlings to their own pots once they have two to three leaves and transplant them outdoors once they reach a height of 4 to 5 inches and your area is free of frost risk.

Clematis from Seed

imageI love growing plants from seed. The pure joy of seeing a healthy green seedling pushing through after you have sown a tiny black dead looking seed is well worth the effort. It is time consuming and fiddly but I’m not very good at sewing, knitting or crochet like most ladies but I do seem to have some success with plants. I have been having a go with vegetable and flower seeds over the years but one plant that I have never grown from seed is Clematis. This Autumn I put in a few cuttings and am looking forward to seeing the results of those but I am determined to try and raise some from seed next spring.

I have read a little but prefer to learn by trial and error. The few tips I have gathered are as follows. Clematis seeds throw down deep roots so need to be sown in gritty, sandy compost in a deep container or pot. Germination can take from six weeks to three years. Ah well we will see. Heat isn’t needed and sown seed can be left in a cold greenhouse or outside. Moisture should be maintained by covering the pot with grit and enclosing in a polythene bag. I dread to think how many seed heads I have thrown into the compost over the years, however this last year I did save a few and put them into seed modules In sandy compost. I don’t hold out much hope for those but next year I will be more prepared.

Hosta – Silver Crown

Many years ago I visited my sister’s house and she and her husband were lifting and splitting some Hosta plants. I was given a good sized root which I planted in a large pot and then ignored. Every year the plant got bigger and bigger, I threatened to repot it but didn’t until this year. I struggled to get it out of it’s pot then, after much reading online about the best way to divide it I set to and hopefully haven’t destroyed it. It has been divided into seven good roots. The original pot with gravel for drainage and filled with new compost houses one root. I have given it a feed and topped the whole thing with gravel to keep away the slugs. I have temporarily potted the other roots to overwinter and may use some in the garden or give them away. I have read that this variety is the most common in this country and have been amazed by the number of varieties available. Only now have I learned the name of this plant and I have promised not to take it for granted in future. I shall keep it safe from slugs and snails and watch out for its flowers and seeds. April 29th 2017. Well I had given up all hope of getting any of the divided roots to survive. The main root was put back into its original pot and up to now is not showing at all. The other divisions were put into black florists buckets to overwinter and were all underwater and slimy when I checked on them in the spring so they were thrown onto the side garden which needed building up after excavation. The cosseted one in a big pot with new soil, feed and drainage is nowhere to be seen. However, popping up here and there in the side garden are the discarded ones. Gardening never fails to surprise me.

Athough there were more Hostas being cultivated in Japan, a Hosta with Chinese heritage was the first one to be grown outside of Asia. Seeds of the Hosta Plantagonea arrived in France in 1784. By 1790 the Hosta had arrived in London. In 1812 an Australian botanist named the Hosta in honour of Nicholas Thomas Host, an esteemed botanist and physician. It was then that the genus changed from Hemerocallis to Hosta.

Hebe Rakaiensis – Shrubby Veronica

Hebe Rakaiensis, also known as Shrubby Veronica, is said to be covered in white flowers from early to mid-summer. This small hebe forms a neat dome shape and is fully hardy, preferring full sun or partial shade in the garden or rockery. This plant has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (RHS AGM). It is supposed to be easy to grow and evergreen. They like an alkaline or chalky soil. Our garden sits on clay so they should do ok.

Sean and Deb brought five rooted cuttings of this Hebe on their last visit. I have to nurture them now through until next Spring when I hope they will be part of my plans for the rockery, which has been put off until next year.

Growing Acer from Seed

Sow seeds at any time of year in trays or pots about quarter of an inch deep in good seed compost. Place in a propagator or warm place. Seal the container inside a polythene bag to ensure a humid atmosphere and leave for 6 weeks. Place outdoors for eight weeks to chill. Transplant seedlings when large enough to handle into 3″ pots. Grow on in a cold frame and plant out the following spring or autumn in a sheltered part of the garden. It may be up to three years before you can plant into it’s final position. Choose a slightly shady, sheltered spot in moist, free draining, lime-free soil. Sounds easy doesn’t it. I understand you can also use prunings to grow from a cutting. Ah well, the seeds cost nothing so I shall give it a go.

Update Sunday 30th October – the seeds are in a tray of damp compost which is inside a polythene bag. They have to stay like that until the middle of December. Tray put outside middle of December. Update 17th January. Tiny green shoots showing.

Growing Clematis from Cuttings

imageI have been taking stock of the Clematis in the garden and reading up about how to prune or propagate them. Softwood cuttings are best taken between April and June from the mid-sections of strongly growing vines. The tips will be too soft and the lower parts may be too woody.  Prepare the selected section of vine by cutting through it immediately above a leaf joint and again about 3-4 cm below the same node. Remove the excess foliage to reduce moisture loss. Insert the cutting into compost up to the leaf joint. Label the pot and water it gently. Cover the surface of the compost with grit to deter slugs and retain moisture. Place in a well-lit area out of direct sunlight and maintain a humid atmosphere by covering with polythene or a propagator. Bottom heat will aid rooting but is not essential. Rooting should occur in four weeks. Pot up separately when rooted but if they are not ready by late summer delay the job until next spring and grow the cuttings on for another year before planting out.