What Does Microclimate Mean?

What Does Micro Climate Mean?

Every room can accommodate at least one plant. House plants need not have the restriction of windowsills. They can be put on shelves, the floor, kitchen worktops, desks or side tables. Perhaps hung from the ceiling or staircases or fixed to the walls.

Each room in the house will have its own micro climate. That can be suitable to grow a wide range of plants within a single home. However, what does micro climate mean? These plants are often those that would not generally suit being grown in that region. For example, in a city house in Edinburgh, it is possible to produce exotic tropical plants. They would have no hope of surviving the cold Scottish winters outdoors.

What is a Micro Climate?

What is a Micro Climate?

Climate describes the general attributes of the long-term weather patterns within a country, region or city. A micro climate describes the conditions within a much smaller area. That could be a room or even a single corner of that room. You can create different micro climates in a house by using variations in light and shade, humidity and warmth. For example, a steamy bathroom with south-facing, double-glazed windows. If it has an extractor fan that doesn’t work very well, it would have a humid, warm atmosphere. A spare bedroom with north-facing single-glazed windows could have a small radiator. If that is set to low, it would have a generally cool, if not cold, shady atmosphere; unless guests were staying, in which case the micro climate would change to being much warmer.

A Plant for Every Situation

It is always better to avoid wasting money, time and love on an unsuitable plant. Assess the various micro climates within each room and use this information to display suitable plants; lush exotic jungles in humid places, cacti and desert plants for sunny windowsills, ferns for shady spots. Avoid buying a plant first and putting it in a spot that simply has the wrong conditions for it. Use the plant files on this website for inspiration on useful plants for different situations.

What Does Micro Climate Mean?

Things to Watch Out For

Every home will have varying temperatures through the seasons. By and large, these are things that will not affect the growth and health of houseplants. Sudden and severe changes and extreme conditions, however, are what to avoid and be aware of.

Draughts

Although a plant may appear to be in a warm spot, if it is in the way of chilling and drying draughts, it will suffer. Obviously, doors and windows are the main culprits, but air bricks can also create a cold breeze. Don’t forget that a draught can carry a long way down a hallway.

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Central Heating

Overall, central heating can have a drying effect. In warm rooms, some plants may need a light misting to retain sufficient humidity around their leaves. Avoid placing leafy plants near or above radiators as they may dry out excessively in the hot air around them, causing brown, crispy foliage.

Snow Globe Micro Climate

Windowsills

On the face of it, the ideal spot for a houseplant is a windowsill, but be aware, again, of extreme temperatures. Plants can be scorched easily on a sunny day, especially on leaves that are very close to, or touching, the glass. Temperature changes can also be more dramatic on a windowsill – it can get sweltering when the sun is out but dramatically colder at night (especially with single glazing).

Draughty windows and frequent opening and closing of blinds or curtains can cause further problems, as it can be easy to knock and damage a plant. Pets who enjoy looking out the window can also injure houseplants as they seek their own space on the windowsill.

Phototropism

This is the name given to the phenomenon whereby a plant will lean towards the most reliable light source. Over time, it can lead to all the leaf growth protruding from one side of the plant, creating an uneven appearance. Rotating plants regularly will ensure even, upright growth.

Uneven Leaves Micro Climate

Dampness and Humidity

If suitable plants are chosen, damp rooms should not cause too many problems. However, ensure that you remove dead foliage and other detritus promptly to avoid grey mould (Botrytis cinerea) and other fungal diseases.

Temperature Variations

Plants will suffer when kept in a room that is generally kept cool but then suddenly receives heat, such as a guest bedroom. Similarly, plants can become damaged when left in an unheated house while the owner is on holiday (see more about this here). Mitigate these problems by temporarily moving plants to another location that is closer in temperature to their usual spot.

Standard Cotinus Royal Purple: Smoke Bush Tree

As a change to this discussion on micro climates when growing indoors, I thought I would introduce you to one of my favourite small trees.

The beautiful Royal Purple Smoke Bush is now available as a Patio Standard tree! Perfect for keeping shaped as a centrepiece to any planter or even in the garden border, this tree comes with an approx 70cms clear stem, topped off with branches and foliage which will fill out year-on-year. Simply give excessive growth an occasional trim to maintain and develop a rounded head of foliage of magnificent, dark red-purple leaves. In Autumn, these will turn vivid scarlet-red, but before this in summer, fluffy, smoke-like plumes of purplish-pink flowers will appear, hence the name Purple Smoke Tree!

This purple-leaved smoke tree will make an eye-catching specimen plant in a sunny mixed border, or when used in a large planter. The clear stem means it can be under planted with other contrasting plants to provide a foil for the rich purple foliage. Perhaps some silver foliage such as Calocephalus would suit?

Smoke Bush Tree

Click here for your very own Smoke Bush Tree!

Cultivation is best in dry, infertile soils, which keeps the growth habit more compact and also improves the autumn colour; when planted in fertile soil, they become large, coarse and also tend to be short-lived, succumbing to verticillium wilt disease.

Supplied as an established young tree in approx three-litre containers at around a metre tall total height.

Enjoy your Smoke Tree!

Feeding Plants in Your Micro Climate

A plant given sufficient light, water and carbon dioxide will survive, but for it to thrive it also needs nutrients; much like humans need a range of vitamins and minerals, which ensure the various and complex physiological processes work effectively. For house plants, the gardener must provide these nutrients, but fortunately, this is a relatively simple task. Follow this guide to feeding small indoor plants.

The Big Three

The significant three nutrients a plant needs are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, represented on a bottle of fertiliser by the letters N, P and K, respectively (the Latin, scientific name for potassium is kalium).

Nitrogen is necessary for the production of cells and for the growth of leaves and shoots (yellowing leaves are a classic sign of nitrogen deficiency).

Phosphorus is a requirement for healthy root growth.

Potassium ensures good flower and fruit production.

On top of these, there are a range of micronutrients, such as magnesium, boron and iron, which are necessary in tiny quantities but play essential roles in cell production and photosynthesis.

When to Fertilise

Plants bought from a garden centre or nursery will be in compost that has all the necessary fertiliser mixed into it. Still, the plant will exhaust this supply after around six months. After that, it will be required to apply fertiliser to maintain adequate nutrient levels. The myriad options available can be confusing, but the deciding factor is how long the fertiliser takes to release its nutrients.

The fastest-acting are the liquid fertilisers because the nutrients can most easily be taken up by the plant. These can be applied as a spray over the foliage or, more commonly and efficiently, as a concentrate that is then diluted and watered on. Liquid fertilisers need to be applied regularly throughout the growing season, according to the instructions on the packet.

Slower or (more accurately) controlled-release fertilisers come as granules or small composite plugs of beads that are mixed with the soil surface or pushed into the pot, respectively. They are designed to break down over weeks or months (again, check the packet for dosing instructions and longevity), releasing the nutrients inside as they go. However, the plugs do not always break down effectively, especially in soils that are kept on the dry side (such as with arid plants).

In general, fertilising is only necessary in the growing season, but specifics are listed with each plant in my Plant Files section.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree

If you want an easy to care for indoor plant, but something unusual which is sure to be a talking point, why not consider a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree? This is actually one of the rarest house plants in the world, and is stunning to look at! 

Micro Climate Fig Tree

Buy your own Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree here!

You can actually play a part in conserving this plant for the future and have the pleasure of owning something very few people have seen. There is apparently only one of these plants still growing in the wild, with others being destroyed by hurricanes. 

 
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Ideas 4 Landscaping Scam?

Ideas4Landscaping

Ideas4Landscaping is a comprehensive collection of over 7200 landscaping designs, ideas and themes plus over 300 pages of gardening landscape guides. I have just bought the entire package, and this is my honest review of the product. Therefore, I will be covering what I like and dislike.

What is Ideas4Landscaping?

The product offers step by step blueprints and pictures of over 7250 different ideas for landscaping designs. The creator, Helen Whitfield, provides a simple, efficient and user-friendly online gallery for landscaping inspiration to design your dream landscape. Therefore, inside this massive database, you will find thousands of landscaping pictures in over 60 categories consisting of:

  • Backyard landscaping
  • Front yards
  • Garden landscaping
  • Patios
  • Decks
  • Walkways
  • Lawns

This massive collection of photos, ideas, and simple step-by-step details are designed to help homeowners make some progress with their plan to liven up their home with the perfect landscaping.

Landscaping Ideas

The Pros

Below are some of the points I was really impressed with, so read on.

  • A Huge Range of Designs to Choose From

This is a complete landscaping resource with detailed diagrams, complete with colour pictures and examples of many types of landscaping designs. It has everything you will need to get started in creating the perfect outdoor living experience for you and your family. It includes ideas for gardens, pools, decks, pathways, sheds, gazebos, hedges, driveways, waterfalls, ponds, patios and walkways.

There are multiple designs available for each type of landscape, so you have some variety to choose from.

  • Suitable for Beginners or Professionals

All the designs are ideal for beginners or professionals. I am somewhat new to landscaping, but I found most of the projects can be completed in one weekend.

  • Great Bonuses Included

The bonuses you get with this product are great. The bonus videos on landscaping are excellent for beginners who want an easy to follow video guide. There are also some great value books added in, including an organic vegetable farming guide which I have found very useful.

Book on Organic Vegetables
  • Full-Colour Pictures

I appreciated the number of full-colour pictures and diagrams which are included. I am a very visual person, so it is easier for me to follow a picture or diagram instead of reading paragraphs.

  • Money Back Policy

The 60-day money-back guarantee is always appreciated. I like seeing a merchant who stands behind their product 100%. It puts the consumer at ease, knowing that they are not going to lose a penny if they choose not to use the system.

Landscaping designs

What I Did Not Like

It is cool that I get instant download access but it also takes away the joy of a printed collection. The designs are all in a downloadable online gallery, which is excellent if your primary purpose is to stop using paper and save the trees. But it can be quite a hassle if you want to have your design sitting snugly next to you as you create your landscape.

However, you do have the option of printing everything out. That way, you do not have to go online to view it.

Do I Recommend It?

Yes!

Ideas4Landscaping is a great collection anyway you look at it. It is suitable for beginners as well as seasoned landscapers alike. It offers excellent value for money, considering the one-time price you pay for such an extensive system.

Ideas4Landscaping gets two thumbs up from me!

Please note: I have just been told, Ideas4Landscaping is currently running a huge promotion. It usually sells for over $297: Helen has slashed that price down to $47, for now.

I am told the price is going back up within a matter of days. So if you are at all interested, now is the time to buy Ideas4Landscaping. Click on any of the links in my review. Happy landscaping!

Landscaping Ideas

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Keep Plants Watered While Away

Ideally, a friend or neighbour can step in to water and feed your plants if necessary. It is perhaps a good idea to first offer them a run-through, or leave instructions by each pot. However, what if nobody is available to help? Various measures can be taken to care for the plants left behind when you go away. Here is a guide on how to keep your plants alive whilst on holiday.

Landscaping Ideas


Pre-Departure Checks

Always check plants thoroughly for pest and diseases in the week leading up to the holiday, and deal with them then, otherwise they will enjoy the holiday as well. Water and feed the plants thoroughly before you leave.

Keep Plants Alive

Move Their Pots

Moving plants away from windows means that they will be out of direct sunlight (which dries them out) in the summer, and safe from cold draughts in the winter. In the summer, move the plants to the coolest room, and in winter to the warmest (assuming the heating will be turned off). Fridges and freezers give off heat, and in the absence of central heating, it can be a good idea if you go away in winter to put plants on top of these appliances.

Keep Plants Alive

Watering Systems

While dormant in winter, many houseplants will tolerate a few days without water, providing they are given a thorough watering before you depart for a holiday. However, in the summer, many plants will need constant access to water.

Plants take up water through their roots, and in doing so draw it through the soil. Capillary matting is a means of extending the reach of the roots into a well of water collected in, for example, a bath, sink, large bowl or deep roasting tin. As the soil in the pot becomes dry, the water is drawn up from the well through the matting and into the pot.

One option is to place the pot directly onto the matting and have it dangle over the side into the well. For instance, place a washing-up bowl full of water in the sink with the plants on the matting on the draining board above. This works best with plastic pots; for terracotta pots, push the matting up into the drainage hole to ensure a better connection.

Keep Plants Alive

Alternatively, push a strip of the matting into the compost at the top of the pot. This will act as a wick, drawing up moisture from an individual well, and would be a good option for larger or more delicate plants that you cannot move easily.

Raising Humidity

Grouping plants together will help reduce water loss from the plants. All plants give off water through transpiration; evaporation of water through the stomata (pores) in the leaves. The drier the air, the faster the water loss. Grouping plants together means the surrounding air becomes more humid than if you place them individually; hence, the evaporation gradient is flatter, and the water loss slows down. For short absences, tie a clear plastic bag around the whole plant and pot, using canes which you insert into the container to keep the bag from touching the leaves.

The Venus Fly Trap

Here is one plant you definitely want to keep alive, but luckily, it can find it’s own food! The Venus Fly Trap is a fascinating specimen, that is genuinely predatory, and actually captures and eats insects! Not one for the fainthearted, but kids will love to watch the jaws snapping when prey triggers them. The plant prefers a sunny spot and is relatively easy to look after. How it works is impressive, as it releases a scent similar to fruit and flowers, and has an intense red colour to fool the insects into thinking it’s a real flower.

Venus Fly Trap

The traps of this fascinating plant are at the ends of the leaves, with special hair-like sensors which cause the trap to trigger when the prey touches it two or three times in quick succession. This prevents accidental triggering by rain or debris falling in. The traps are also smart enough not to close on really tiny insects which would waste valuable energy for very little return. Once the jaws have closed, there is no escape.

The struggling insect stimulates the trap to close further, immobilising it. The leaf produces digestive acids which kill, then dissolve the body and absorb the valuable nutrients.

Once closed, traps take five to 12 days to reopen after the prey has been digested and will only work a couple of times before they become unusable. Do not be tempted to close them yourself as this will weaken the plant.

Click here to order your very own Venus Fly Trap!

Spring and Summer Care

  • The plant should be watered from below during the growing season. The easiest way is to permanently stand the pot in a saucer which is filled with rainwater to 2.5cm (1in) deep.
  • Don’t be tempted to feed plants yourself, they’ll catch all that they need themselves. If you must, just leave them outside for a few days in the summer to ‘catch up’.
  • The Venus Fly Trap may flower, but it is best to cut these off as this will weaken the plant and result in fewer, smaller traps.
  • Never apply fertiliser to the plants.

Autumn and Winter Care

  • From September onwards, you will notice some of the leaves begin to die off, and this is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about as the plant enters its winter dormancy.
  • Watering at this time can be reduced so that plants are kept just damp. All you need to do is let the water tray empty before filling it up again, to about 1cm deep.
  • Any dead foliage can be cut off.
  • Plants need a cold winter rest. If you are growing your plant indoors, move it to a cooler position such as an unheated greenhouse, porch or unused and unheated room.
  • The secret of success is always rainwater, never tap water, and allow winter rest.

I hope you enjoyed this guide on how to keep your plants alive whilst on holiday.

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House Plants to Buy for a Spectacular Display

Using plants as decoration allowance for some really creative touches. It is a chance to express your personal style with not only the choice of plants but also how you display them. These suggestions are undoubtedly just a starting point, and websites such as Instagram and Pinterest can be fabulous sources for inspiring ideas. Generally, the more the plant is made part of the room, the better it will look. Here are some suggestions for house plants to buy to create a stunning display.

Landscaping Designs


A Lush Jungle

A great thing to do in an unloved corner of a room is to group a few large, leafy plants together. Choosing plants of different heights will create interest and allow plenty of light to reach all of them. Add in some other empty pots or baskets, a rug or a piece of sculpture (it needn’t be expensive; it could be driftwood from the beach).

Curated Collections

If you have a burgeoning collection, it is a good idea to select individual plants carefully and display them in rows in front of a painted wall. You could categorise your selection; maybe specialist plants or a particularly favoured species. Create labels that are as much a part of the display as the plants; for example, cover your pots in blackboard paint or use labels made from slate, wood or colourful plastic.

Statement Plants

Choose a large, single plant to create a focal point in a room. It could be on a side table or on the floor, or even on its own dedicated stand.

Shelfies

Plants can be dotted around the house on shelves or bookcases. They could be displayed alone or among other treasured possessions. Putting a few different plants in the same style of pot is an easy trick to create unity of design. Alternatively, group potted plants on a shelf in different-shaped containers that are of the same colour.

Kids and Kitsch

Get children involved in planting a miniature landscape for their bedrooms; perhaps incorporating plastic toys, such as dinosaurs in a mini-jungle. Fake birds, butterflies and bees dotted around evergreen foliage can add colour.

Kitchen Garden

Bring the garden into the kitchen with herbs, salad, edible flowers and micro greens, which you can then have immediately to hand for creating fresh-tasting, flavourful dishes. Seed merchants are always introducing new vegetable and fruit varieties suitable for container growing, and there’s no reason why those containers cannot be inside.

Seasonal Displays

These are ideal for rooms that require a bit of cheer all year round, or to brighten up desk space. A container of mixed seasonal plants can be created simply and affordably using plants widely available at garden centres and supermarkets.

Hanging Gardens

Plants don’t have to always grow up; they can also trail down. This is a particularly great way to introduce greenery to smaller rooms without taking up too much space. Wall-mounted brackets for pots are great for a hallway. You can also try using suspended containers to hang plants over bannisters. Hanging baskets can be used in the kitchen for edibles, such as strawberries, tomatoes or nasturtiums, or elsewhere in the house for permanent features of trailing foliage plants. You can even find hanging terrariums.

Sinking Moss Balls (Chladophlora)

Some of you may not even be aware that this unusual plant actually exists. It gets its name from its appearance, which gives the impression that it is a variety of moss. However, it is actually a variety of algae, often used to decorate aquariums. It forms a soft ball with a velvet feel and can look incredibly stylish when on display. A simple, clear vase will show it to its best advantage. They are also straightforward to look after. You just pop them into lukewarm water, preferably rainwater or filtered water, and turn them occasionally. This mimics the action of the waves lapping at them on lake shores where they are usually found. The water should be replaced when it becomes cloudy, which is generally every two weeks or so.

Indoor Plants on Display

Click here to buy your very own sinking moss balls!

Recycled Chic

Create individual containers that are also environmentally friendly by recycling old pots; collect a few matching ones for different plants, build little crates from bits of reclaimed wood, or paint or cover old pots and trays.

I hope you enjoyed my suggestions of house plants to buy for a great display.

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Indoor Plant Disease Identification

Diseased Plant

House plant diseases tend to be fungal rather than bacterial or viral. The most likely are here in this guide to indoor plant disease identification. If the symptoms don’t match, check the further resources section for where to find more information.

Landscaping Ideas


A Healthy Environment

As with preventing pests, infection is much less likely on healthy plants, so look after them well. Good housekeeping is also essential to avoid cultivating an atmosphere in which disease could take hold. Also to prevent spreading any existing disease. Keep plants tidy, removing dead leaves and other detritus from around the base of them. Make sure tools and equipment, including the pots themselves, are clean, by washing with soap or other detergent and hot water. If the plants’ compost develops mould on its surface, repot it, washing off the roots entirely before replanting in fresh compost.

Fungicidal sprays are available to treat some diseases but reserve them for only when they are necessary. Select a treatment which is specific for the condition you have identified and always read the label before choosing a product. Make sure that you follow all the manufacturer’s instructions, including maximum dose, spray and harvest intervals.

Botrytis

Also known as grey mould and, to wine-makers, noble rot. Spores are ever-present in the air, everywhere, and readily infect dead or weak tissue, before spreading to the rest of the plant.

Signs of damage: Fluffy grey moulds developing quickly on leaves and stems, or spots on petals.

Control: Prevent infection with good air circulation and by promptly removing dead or damaged tissue with neat cuts to minimise open wounds. Remove and dispose of infected tissue, trying to contain it in the process, to avoid spreading more clouds of spores.

Mildew

Both powdery and downy mildews are fungal diseases which cause white mould on leaf surfaces.

Signs of damage: Patches of white mould; powdery on the upper side, downy on the underside with corresponding yellow patches above. Leaves yellow and die; inhibition of growth is evident.

Downy Mildews

Downy mildews invade plant cells, and only the spore-bearing structures show on the leaf surface as a white or grey fuzz. Early stages of fungal attack can be seen as yellowish blotching on the lower leaf surfaces. These blemishes are followed by a bloom of white or greyish-white spores, and if left untreated, the plants may be severely crippled.

Powdery Mildews

Plants suffering from these diseases are easily recognised, as their leaves, stems, flowers or fruit may be covered with a white-grey powdery coating. The fungus causing the disease may be specific to the host plant; for example, rose mildew will not affect any other type of plant, or it may have a broad host range attacking many varieties of herbaceous plants. The disease is superficial, but if it is not combatted, it may result in a loss of leaves.

Control: powdery mildew often infects plants with dry roots and wet leaves, so ensure proper air circulation and correct watering. Downy mildew is also characteristic of damp environments and usually affects young plants. Remove affected parts as soon as they are seen and improve the atmosphere around the plant.

Viruses

These tend to be brought in via the plant or occasionally through infected pests or tools.

Signs of damage: The whole plant will become stunted or distorted, with yellow spots or streaks on the leaves.

Control: It’s impossible to treat a virus, so the plant must be disposed of, and all tools and equipment thoroughly cleaned afterwards to avoid the infection spreading to other plants.

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Mindfulness with Plants

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of training the mind to focus on being aware of one’s surroundings to quieten the rest of the chatter in the brain. It can be as simple as concentrating on breathing, but can also involve bringing attention to an object or repetitive activity.

Ideas4Landscaping


As plants and gardening are already well known to bring a sense of peace and calm, combining the two is a logical choice, effortless to do when using house plants, leading to a happy mind.

Mindfulness

The aim is to have something to entirely focus the attention and senses on, for five to 10 minutes a day. It is better to use a single plant, rather than a collection, as in this way concentration can be more readily focussed. It could be a high-maintenance orchid, or a similar tropical plant, which needs time spent on it; for example, misting and cleaning the leaves every day. Alternatively, it could be a plant that has elements that are particularly stimulating to the senses, such as fragrant flowers or tactile leaves, or one that is merely captivating to look at.

How to be Mindful

If carrying out maintenance, concentrate entirely on the sensations; for example, the action of squeezing the misting bottle handle, perhaps the feel of water falling on your hand and the look of the water as it falls through the light and onto the plant. If sitting in contemplation of a plant, focus all your attention on it and really look, smell or feel the plant, appreciating every nuance.

It is perfectly natural for your attention to wander during these exercises, but bringing it back to the task at hand is all part of training the mind to focus.

Mindfulness

What to Plant for Mindfulness

Tactile plants, such as an air plant (Tillandsia argentea), Delta maidenhair fern (Adiantum raddianum), Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) and African violet (Saintpaulia).

Fragrant plants, such as lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus), lemon verbena (Aloysia citrodora), citrus trees (Citrus), jasmine (Jasminum), lilies (Lilium) and Pelargonium.

Visually interesting and detailed plants, such as auriculas (Primula auricula), Cape primrose (Streptocarpus), cacti, bromeliads (Nidularium, Neoregelia), Solenostemon and Fittonia.

Delta Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum raddianum)

This is one of the most delicate ferns, with black stems bearing tiny leaflets that tremble in the slightest breeze. A slightly scented-leaved version is also available. Water regularly and feed with a diluted fertiliser in spring and summer. Prune only to remove dead fronds.

Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus)

The bird’s nest fern is a very tolerant plant, making it an ideal beginner’s house plant. The large flat, glossy leaves are mid-green and have an attractive black midrib and crinkled edges. Pot using a mix of 75/25 multipurpose compost and grit, and water as required. Clean the leaves regularly to keep them clean and shiny. Prune only to cut out dead leaves to the base; brown edges can also be trimmed.

Citrus Trees (Citrus)

Lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits and more, all citrus trees can be grown in a large pot indoors, though they will appreciate being outside in the summer, if possible. Meyer’s lemon and Nagami kumquat are good compact trees. Water freely in summer, sparingly in winter. Feed in summer. Misting can help pollination. Prune only to pinch out shoots (to encourage bushy growth) and to remove dead and side-shoots borne on and at the base of the stem.

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum walisii)

The peace lily forms clumps of dark-green ovate leaves and white flowers (spathes). All parts of the plant are extremely toxic. Water regularly in summer, sparingly in winter. Feed monthly in summer. Prune only to remove dead leaves and flowers. It will benefit from an occasional misting.

Pelargonium

Sometimes mistakenly referred to as “geraniums”, these fall into two groups, both suitable as house plants. One is grown primarily for flowers (commonly red or white, though their bi-colour leaves are also attractive), the other for their scented leaves (bright and crinkled leaves, scented with anything from rose, lemon and apples to cloves and cinnamon). On the latter, the leaves and summer flowers (pink or white tones) are smaller but can be used in the kitchen. Water and feed regularly in summer, sparingly in winter. Cut back to a short, open framework each spring.

Click here to get your pink, coral, white and red pelargoniums!

Mindfulness

Cape Primrose (Streptocarpus)

This plant has a primrose-like flower borne on delicate stems above long, slightly furry, dark-green leaves. Varieties available can include pastel-pink, blue or purple flowers (see the specialist nurseries listed on this site for the best choice). Best watered from a saucer to avoid rotting leaves, but do not allow to stand wet. Water regularly in summer, sparingly in winter. Feed monthly in summer. Prune only to remove dead leaves and trim flower spikes back to the base.

Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera)

A typical house plant or gift at Christmas time (hence the name), when generally it is in flower (varieties of red, pink and white). Despite the name, it hails from the rainforest and needs a partially shaded, humid position.

Click here to buy this cute rabbit planter!

Mindfulness

Coleus (Solenostemon)

Perennial plants, often treated as annuals, though can be over-wintered. Their serrated leaves come in a wide range of beautiful colours and patterns; it is possible to buy seed mixes that give a good spread of colours within one packet. Protect from direct sun on hot summer days, and mist frequently to maintain high humidity. Pinch out growing shoots of young plants to encourage bushy growth. Seed can be sown in spring, or over-wintered plants can be cut back to a short framework in spring.

Mosaic Plant (Fittonia verschaffelti)

This is a creeping, ground-cover plant noted for the coloured veins (usually white or pale pink) on its leaves. It is a good candidate for terrariums. Water regularly in summer, sparingly in winter. Feed in the summer. Prune only to remove dead stems.

Share Your Story

Do you have a particular house plant to help create mindfulness? Which plant do you think inspires calm and peaceful thoughts? Who would have known that cleaning a plant’s leaves can benefit your own well-being?

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Bee Friendly Plants UK

Attract Bees

Plants that will attract these fascinating and useful garden visitors usually have simple, tubular or daisy-like flowers, especially in pinks and purples; avoid double-flowered varieties. Butterflies also like fruity scents. Remember that their caterpillar stage needs different food plants. Nettles are well-known as the food of tortoiseshells, but long grass and other weeds support many species.

Bees are necessary for gardens. They pollinate and bring life, playing an essential role in growing all sorts of crops.

Unfortunately, bees in the UK are under threat, so it’s down to us avid gardeners to help them out. There are ways in which we can prepare our gardens to attract bees, encouraging them to pollinate all the year through.

Here are the top bee and butterfly friendly plants that will attract the critters into your garden.

English Lavender “Hidcote

This compact lavender with thin, silvery-grey leaves and dark purple flowers is an evergreen shrub useful for edging. Dense spikes of fragrant, tubular flowers, borne at the ends of long, unbranched stalks, appear during mid- to late summer. Like all lavenders, the flowers dry the best if cut before they are fully open.

Bee Friendly

Click here for your beautiful lavender plant!

Aster “Andenken an Alma Potschke

This vigorous, upright, clump-forming perennial carries sprays of large, daisy-like, bright salmon-pink flower heads with yellow centres from late summer to mid-autumn, on stiff stems above rough, stem-clasping, mid-green leaves. Suitable for cutting, or in late-flowering displays. “Harrington’s Pink” is very similar, with paler flowers.

Daphne “Eternal Fragrance

Non-stop blooms from April to October make Daphne “Eternal Fragrance” unbeatable for flowers and fragrance. This rare semi-evergreen Daphne flowers on new growth, so they just keep coming! With a compact, slow growth habit and deliciously sweet fragrance, this elegant shrub is perfect for planting in containers close to a doorway, where you will fully appreciate the fabulous heady fragrance as you pass. Height and spread: 90cm (36″).

Bee Friendly

Click here to add this “eternal fragrance” to your garden!

Buddleja “Davidii

All cultivars of buddleja, the butterfly bush, are fast-growing, deciduous shrubs with a wide range of flower colours. As the popular name suggests, the flowers attract butterflies and other beneficial garden insects in profusion. The long, arching shoots carry lance-shaped, mid- to grey-green leaves, up to 25cm (10in) long. Conical clusters of bright, fragrant flowers, usually about 30cm (12in) long, are borne at the end of arching stems from summer to autumn; those of “Royal Red” are the largest, up to 50cm (20in) long. These shrubs respond well to hard pruning in spring, which keeps them a compact size for a small garden.

Bottlebrush Plant “Callistemon Citrinus

This attractive cultivar of the crimson bottlebrush is an evergreen shrub usually with arching branches. Dense spikes of brilliant red flowers appear in spring and summer, amid the grey-green, lemon-scented leaves which are bronze-red when young. Grow at the base of a sunny wall to give protection from the winter cold.

Bee Friendly

Click here to attract bees to your bottlebrush plant!

Caryopteris x Clandonensis “Heavenly Blue

A compact, upright, deciduous shrub, grown for its clusters of intensely dark blue flowers which appear in late summer and early autumn. The irregularly toothed leaves are grey-green. In cold areas, position against a warm wall.

Daphne “Perfume Princess

Pretty pink springtime flowers clothe the stems of this robust shrub and fill the garden with an exquisite perfume. Although slow growing, Daphne “Perfume Princess” is well worth the wait, forming a medium-sized shrub with an attractive rounded habit. This hardy evergreen shrub has increased in popularity in recent years, providing year round interest as a specimen plant in borders and containers. Height and spread: 120cm (47″).

Bee Friendly

Click here for your very own “perfume princess“!

Gardenia “Kleim’s Hardy

Exotic single white blooms with an intoxicating fragrance that is simply divine. Gardenia “Kleim’s Hardy” is the first of its kind that can be grown outdoors all year round. Its glossy evergreen foliage provides the perfect backdrop for the beautiful blooms in summer. A beautiful, compact shrub for sheltered borders and containers. Height and spread: 90cm (36″).

Bee Friendly

Click here for this exquisite bloom!

Hardy Gardenia “Crown Jewels

Who’d have imagined you could grow a tough, hardy outdoor Gardenia a few years ago? Large pearly white, waxy double blooms, contrasting dramatically against rich, glossy evergreen leaves. This hardy shrub will be a prized specimen from the moment it’s delivered to your door. And do not underestimate the fragrance, Gardenia “Crown Jewels” has one of the most reliable, most intoxicating scents that will fill patios, gardens and your home all summer long.

Bee Friendly

Click here to add some “crown jewels” to your garden!

Patio Lavatera Mallow “Barnsley Baby

These upright and showy, flowering shrubs with stiff stems and sage-green leaves usually bloom from midsummer to autumn in pinks and purples. Although they are short-lived, they proliferate on any well-drained soil, including thin, dry land, which makes them a welcome addition to any garden where quick results are desired. They also perform well in coastal areas, being able to tolerate salt-laden winds, but the shrubs will need staking if grown in a site exposed to wind. In cold regions prone to severe frost, plant them against a warm, sunny wall.

Bee Friendly

Click here to order a “Barnsley baby” for your patio!

Dwarf Patio Lilac “Palibin

Dwarf Lilacs are like a dream come true; compact, bushy plants, smothered in tiny scented flowers from late spring. The “Palibin” stays small and neat, making it perfect for patio pots and small gardens. The abundance of fragrant spring flowers is astounding. Position them next to well-used doorways where the sweet fragrance will be really appreciated. Height and spread: 1.5m (4.9′).

Bee Friendly

Click here for a dwarf lilac!

Share Your Story

Are you aware of the necessity of bees in your garden? Did you know they were under threat? What plants do you grow to attract them? If you have any thoughts or questions, please add them below, and I will get back to you a soon as possible. Happy gardening!

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How to Propagate House Plants

Creating Plants

The act of growing more plants is known as propagation. Some houseplants will do most of the work of propagating themselves. Others will readily grow into new plants from cuttings or a piece of root. Alternatively, use external sources, such as a new pack of seeds.

Here are some of the simplest ways to create more houseplants, which will produce a clone of the original. This is a great way to bulk up stock, replace older plants or make a lovely, personal gift.

Succulent Pups

Many succulents, such as Aloe, Agave and Echeveria, produce miniature versions of themselves, which grow from the side of the main plant. These baby plants are called “offsets”, or “pups”. You can sever them from the main plant and put into their own pot to grow and mature.

Creating House Plants

To propagate, simply cut away the pup, trying to keep as much root attached to it as possible, and plant into a small pot of compost and grit.

Spider Plantlets

The long, dangling stems of mini plantlets are characteristic of the spider plant. In the wild, these would be looking to root themselves into something and grow into mature plants. To replicate this process at home, put a small pot of multipurpose compost under the first plantlet that attaches to a strong-looking stem (known as a “runner”) and cut off the rest of the stem beyond that plantlet.

If the plantlet sits comfortably in the compost, it can just be left. Otherwise, pin down the stem with a hairpin or half a paperclip, which will keep the base of the plantlet just under the surface.

Creating Plants

Keep the compost in the pot moist, and the plantlet should root into it relatively quickly. Once the plantlet roots correctly into its own container, cut off the stem or runner from both the mother plant and the plantlet. Pot on into a larger pot as it grows.

Ginger Roots

It is easy to grow ginger from “roots”; bought from a supermarket. Use the plumpest, freshest-looking roots. Organic ones are preferable because commercial growth inhibitors are sometimes used on non-organic roots which can stop them sprouting once planted. You may find there are already some swollen buds visible.

Creating Plants

Plant in a shallow pot in multipurpose compost, so that the root is about half submerged in the compost. Keep the compost moist and the pot in a hot place (ideally 25 to 28 C). Shoots should sprout from the root. Once it is established in the shallow container, it can be potted up to a larger one. In the autumn, cut back the old stems as they die. Ginger always prefers a warm room and does not tolerate lower temperatures.

Discover the Summer Rose Festival here!

Pelargonium Cuttings

A cutting is simply a small piece of a healthy shoot that is cut off from the main plant, which you insert into a pot of compost. It then produces roots and grows into a new plant. You can create several new plants from a single original plant.

Scented pelargoniums are one of the most natural plants from which to take cuttings. The type of cutting used for pelargoniums is called a soft-wood cutting, as they are taken from the soft, flexible stems of the new growth.

Creating Plants

Take pelargonium cuttings from healthy, well-watered plants in spring or summer. To increase your chances of success, cut a few shoots, but be sure to cut only leafy material; there should be no flowers or flower buds. Each cutting should be about 10cm long.

The base of each cutting should be just below a leaf joint (“node”). Remove the leaves with a sharp knife to leave a clear piece of stem at the base and a few leaves at the top. You can also pinch out the soft tip of the shoot.

Prepare the Pot

Prepare a small pot with compost, large enough for a few cuttings to be planted. Clear a hole in the compost using a pencil, to avoid damaging the end of the cutting. Several cuttings can be spaced evenly around the edge of the pot. Once the cuttings have produced roots and are growing into their own plants, they can be potted up.

Water the pot and label it. Keep it in a warm and humid environment, with good but not direct sunlight. Use a covered heated propagator or fix a plastic bag over the top of the plant (with support so that the bag is not touching the cuttings themselves), ensuring the cuttings are ventilated for a short while a couple of times a day. Alternatively, mist regularly.

A Helping Hormone

Before potting, you could dip the base of the cutting in hormonal rooting powder (available below), which will help the cuttings root.

Skelly Tray and 12 Bio Pots

There is a positive pressure and desire to reduce single-use plastics now, and these compressed peat Jiffy Bio pots are perfect, giving three to four months of growing plants in them as they slowly degrade. This means, once the plant has rooted, you can add the entire pot and all directly into your garden or planter. Recently launched at the UK’s premier Horticultural Trade Show, it won Best New Professional Product.

Biopots

A brand-new product saves single-use plastic pots and allows roots to breathe.

Unique ‘skeleton’ design exposes bio pots to the air, which ‘prunes’ the roots, giving more compact plants.

The bio pots allow any plants to be grown in them for 3-4 months before they degrade naturally.

Once rooted through plant the whole bio pot straight into the ground for zero transplant delay.

Supplied as a tray pre-filled with 12 x 8cm diameter bio pots – top-up packs available.

Discover the eco-friendly way to garden here!

Share Your Story

Do you enjoy creating your own plants? What methods do you use? Do you have any suggestions or questions? Please add your comments below, and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks for reading.

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House Plant Pots

Spring Bulbs

aWhen it comes to choosing the correct pot for your houseplant, there are a couple of basic things to consider. The container should be large enough to hold the plant, taking into account some growth. Otherwise, the plant can suffer from a restriction in its size. It may need repotting into a larger container at a later date. Whatever pot you choose, it must also accommodate the need for watering.

The aesthetics, however, is entirely down to personal taste and budget. It’s a good idea to make sure the style and colour of the pot will not only suit the room but also suit the plant.

Choosing the Right Pot

Freestyle Pots

With the resurgence of the houseplant’s popularity, designers and homeware shops are offering an increased range of pots to choose from, but home-made options are unique and could cost you a lot less. Try jazzing up a basic bowl by painting it with blackboard paint, which you could then decorate with chalk, or by wrapping it in a piece of fabric or strip of silver birch bark.

Alternatively, think “outside the pot” and use containers that might not be a conventional plant pot. You could, for example, try one of the following:

Recycled kitchen tins and cans

Old stereo speakers

Disused chairs with the upholstery taken out of the seat

Unwanted shoes; think wellies or even stilettos!

Choosing the Right Pot

Watering and Drainage

There are two options for potting a houseplant; either the plant goes directly into a closed pot, the container that will be on display, or it is kept in a plastic pot with drainage holes, that is then disguised by a more attractive outer pot (which is usually watertight).

For smooth, mess-free watering, the latter option is best, and there is less risk of over-watering, provided excess water is not allowed to pool in the base of the outer pot. Closed pots have no drainage holes and need more careful watering to ensure the compost does not become too saturated.

Choosing the Right Pot

How to Clean Pots

Plastic pots can simply be scrubbed using a cloth soaked in warm, soapy water. All traces of soil and grime should be rinsed away. If necessary, they can be added to a gentle bleach solution, to completely sterilise them, which may be a good idea to remove all bacteria if you intend to grow seedlings in them. Bacteria in leftover soil can, unfortunately, cause the seedlings to topple over. Clay pots can be cleaned using steel wool and diluted vinegar for the best results. This is particularly effective for removing any lingering traces of salt.

Choosing the Right Pot

Orchid Pots

Many garden centres and retailers sell orchid pots; colourful, attractive outer pots that can hold an orchid (usually Phalaenopsis) in a clear plastic pot. The roots of orchids, as well as the leaves, contain chlorophyll and will grow up towards the light to get the required nutrients. This can look messy, depending on your point of view, and can make the plant unstable in the pot. A clear container allows light to get into the pot, so the roots don’t have to climb out in search of sun.

It is ideal, though not necessary, to keep an orchid in a clear glass or plastic pot with drainage holes, as this will mean most of the roots will stay inside the container. It’s also useful for checking how moist the soil is inside the pot.

Luxury Phalaenopsis: Pack of Three Moth Orchids with Gold Pots

Commonly known as the Moth Orchid, Phalaenopsis is one of the most popular indoor Orchids available. Large, showy blooms rise above the leathery foliage on slender, black stems. The flowers are irresistibly luxurious, bringing instant elegance to your home and lasting up to several months. These stylish houseplants can bloom at any time throughout the year, and with the right care, will flower for many years to come. While in flower, Phalaenopsis Orchids require a sunny position with a night-time temperature of 16-19C (61-66F) and day temperatures between 19-30C (66-86F). Choose a brightly lit location away from draughts and radiators, avoiding the direct glare of the sun.

Choosing the Right Pot

Click here for your set of spectacular orchid pots!

Monkey Puzzle Tree

For those of you who have space for a larger indoor plant, which comes supplied with an attractive pot, why not consider a Monkey Puzzle Tree (Araucaria heterophylla)? As an added bonus, it can be used as an alternative to a Christmas tree! It really is a beautiful tree, having tiers of fan-shaped branches and is easy to care for, not requiring any pruning. It is best kept indoors over winter, as although it can tolerate low temperatures, it would not survive being frozen. The Monkey Puzzle Tree is slow-growing, and its new growth in spring is a vibrant green, which darkens in the autumn. It prefers bright light and should be kept near a window, or it could lose its needles.

Choosing the Right Pot

Click here for your very own Monkey Puzzle Tree!

Senecio ‘String of Pearls’ (House Plant)

Here is a fascinating idea; an indoor hanging basket which can also be positioned on a high shelf for maximum effect. This exotic houseplant spills over the side of its pot with long trailing stems, of round beaded foliage – hence its name of “string of pearls”. You will be pleased to learn that they are easy to care for, with their only requirements being plenty of light and occasional watering. They are not keen on drafts, so keep them away from an open window. As an added bonus, they are said to help purify the air in your home. A single plant may look a little spindly, and they look at their best when clumped together.

Choosing the Right Pot

Click here for your “String of Pearls” hanging basket!

Share Your Story

Do you think having an attractive pot is necessary? Or is it all about the plant? Have you recycled anything and turned it into an indoor pot?

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Flower Bulbs to Plant in Spring

Flowers to plant in spring

As we are heading for better weather, I have moved away from my indoor house plant ideas and ventured into the garden. Here are my suggestions for the top 10 flowers for planting in spring.

Trachelospermum Asiaticum ‘Pink Showers’

The first ever evergreen Star Jasmine with pink scented Flowers; now available to UK gardeners.

This climbing plant is a hot, fragrant favourite, and an exciting breakthrough in colour breeding.

With its typical jasmine fragrance filling the garden with a seductive perfume, you’ll be transported to a tropical paradise.

Top tip; although hardy, when in unusually cold areas, Trachelospermum is best grown in containers which can be moved to a protected position over winter, as it dislikes cold, drying winds.

Flowers to plant in spring

Click here to fill your garden with the most fantastic perfume from this rarely available pink jasmine!

Callistemon Viminalis ‘Hot Pink’

A fabulous new colour addition to the fantastic bottlebrush family.

Usually red, this is the first widely available pink, and what a neon pink it is too!

Each flower is made up of thousands of thin petals, each pollen-rich, so they become a mecca for bees and butterflies early in the season.

Top tip: Callistemon will flower best when grown in full sun in moist but well-drained soil, in a sheltered position away from cold winds.

Flowers to plant in spring

Click here to see why it’s called a Bottlebrush Plant!

Canna ‘Canasta’

Here is this exciting new seed-raised compact Canna variety, the result of years of breeding and selection.

Canna is a real summer dazzler; their exotic and exuberant coloured flowers are set off by lush, jungle-like green or purple and brown leaves, giving a real taste of the tropical, yet they are very tough and hardy.

‘Canasta’ is a dwarf series, reaching only 60cm or so tall, so are perfect for planting in big pots. Canna will form tubers over two to three years, so give them space; for colossal impact, plant all six in a 30 to 35cm diameter pot.

Flowers to plant in spring

Click here to add colour in high summer displays!

Mediterranean Flowering Oleander Collection

Summer-long flowers, fully hardy; perfect for your patio!

One of the UK’s favourite exotics, Oleander adds a real Mediterranean feel to your patio.

Sweetly perfumed pink, red and white blooms stand out against their vibrant green, glossy foliage.

Top tip; best grown in a large pot, in full sun, so it can be moved to shelter in winter to keep looking at its best.

Flowers to plant in spring

Click here to see a plant which looks stunning in a terracotta pot!

Bottlebrush Plant Callistemon Citrinus

This unique exotic ‘bottlebrush plant’ has the most eye-catching fluffy red cylindrical flower heads during late spring and summer; hence the name!

It produces the most delicious lemony citrus scent as you brush past it; a fragrance so different from other common plants in the garden.

It’s a very versatile plant and perfect as a specimen in the lawn, against a wall or fence, or looks stunning planted in large pots as a tropical feature on the patio.

Flowers to plant in spring

Click here to add a delicious scent, loved by bees and butterflies!

Musella Lasiocarpa: Hardy Golden Lotus Banana

Grown for its fabulous, large, paddle-shaped leaves as an architectural focal point.

The toughest and hardiest of all the ornamental bananas in the UK.

Does not produce fruit though, but does create an exotic yellow flower after five to six years.

Top tip; it is much shorter and less vigorous than other banana plants at around four to five feet tall maximum, making it ideal for large pots in small gardens. Grown in full sun or shade, it makes a great talking point.

Flowers to plant in spring

Click here to add to your sunny, warm spots!

Pink Oleander Standard 80 to 100cm

These Mediterranean beauties will add height, colour and sweet fragrance to your garden for years!

A riot of gorgeous pink, sweetly scented flowers and rich evergreen foliage!

Flowering all summer long, they are wonderfully exotic, yet can survive a UK winter to minus five degrees too.

Flowers to plant in spring

Click here to see how they literally thrive on neglect!

Callistemon ‘Bottlebrush’ Standard

Fabulous bottlebrush-like brightest red flowers in late spring and summer; stunning detail on each strand.

A magnet for bees and butterflies when in flower, which need attracting to our gardens to pollinate food crops.

This standard form on a clear stem looks excellent in a big pot, on the patio.

Flowers to plant in spring

Click here for your lollipop-form tree!

Hardy Bromeliad Fascicularia Bicolour

Fasicularia bicolour is an unusual and attractive plant which will be a talking feature in your garden.

Its brilliant colours erupt along with the leaves, giving this hardy plant a tropical appearance.

This unique evergreen plant produces bright red leaves leading to the rosettes of colourful blue flowers.

Flowers to plant in spring

Top tip; it grows to about 50cm, so it is perfect for containers or pots; put it in a sunny spot on your patio, and it will thrive for years to come.

Click here for the ‘Chilean Hardy Pineapple’!

Architectural Banana Plant Collection: Three Varieties

Bananas have become very popular in the last few years, mainly for their large architectural leaves.

Wonderfully exotic, and great for adding architectural impact to gardens, this trio of banana plants will look especially impressive.

Create a unique, tropical jungle look to your garden, while you sit back and enjoy the warm, summer sun.

Top tip; the red banana is borderline hardy, so they’re best grown in pots and moved indoors over winter.

Flowers to plant in spring

Click here for fabulous architectural foliage to create dramatic tropical display!

Share Your Garden

What are your suggestions to add to the top 10 flowers for planting in spring?

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