Posts Tagged ‘chrysanthemum’

Seed or Plugs? Part Two

February 7th, 2020 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Petunia Tumbelina Joanna - you'll never grow anything as good as this from seed.

Many summer flowers can be started off as seed or as plugs – but which should you choose? Last week I looked at plants where seed needs starting so early that it’s wise to offload the responsibility for germination and the early stages of growth on to the grower. This week it’s a different issue: the varieties available as plugs and young plants are sometimes simply better than those available as seed. Top of the list here must be chrysanthemums and dahlias.

Growing perennial chrysanths from seed is such a waste of time that Mr F doesn’t even sell the seed any more. Only plants. So that’s that. Hardy annual chrysanths, I should say, are a very different story and bring you some of the zingiest colours in the garden.

Dahlias from seed? Well, firstly, they’re almost always sold as mixtures so you’ve no control of the colours you end up with. The flower forms can be unpredictable too but if you’re on a tight budget give the dark-leaved ‘Bishop’s Children’ mix a try. Otherwise buy tubers in exactly the colour and shape you want.

And then there’s petunias. First, you should always buy double flowered petunias as plants raised from cuttings. The Tumbelina Series are prolific, fragrant and weather-resistant, seed-raised ‘Red Pirouette’ is prolific and colourful but doesn’t have the rain resistance – and only comes in the one colour.

Secondly, to be honest, single-flowered petunias grown from cuttings and sold as plugs are also almost always better than those raised from seed and seed-raised petunias don’t have the most exciting colours. So unless you need a lot, I’d buy single-flowered petunias as plants too. And it’s the same with fuchsias: seed raised varieties are just to up to standard.

And that’s the thing. Seed is usually cheaper, but you don’t get the quality. Take your choice.

Bikes in the greenhouse? No, thanks…

November 22nd, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 1 Comment

Chrysanth Pennine Series (left) and Mayford Perfection Series

Things in the garden tend to look a bit bleak at the end of November, especially this year. The rain, yes the rain, not only blighted some people’s lives but kept us out of the garden and off the soil. And there are so few plants that flower naturally at this time of year that – but there are some, my Pennine Series chrysanths (left, above) are still hanging on.

Many of us grow tomatoes in a cold greenhouse, and this last summer proved that outdoor toms don’t always do as well as we’d like, so growing them in an unheated greenhouse is a very good idea. But, when the last toms are picked, do we leave the greenhouse empty till it’s seed sowing time in spring? Do we use it to store the fair weather bicycle? Or do we use it for December flowering chrysanths?

The thing about the Mayford Perfection Series (above) is that they flower late, from about now onwards when we really need some colour, but they don’t need to be under cover until just before the first frost. So we can grow them in pots outside all summer – remembering, of course, to keep them well watered and fed – and when the tomatoes are over we can remove the plants to the compost heap, clean up the greenhouse and move the pots of chrysanths in.

You don’t need a heater, just open everything up on sunny days to let plenty of air through and close things down when it’s cold. Your rooted cuttings will arrive in May, pot them into 7cm or 9cm pots, keep them in the greenhouse for a few weeks and they’ll grow strongly. In June move them into 20cm pots and stand them outside in a sunny place, keep them watered and fed and provide some support. Bring them in when the first frost threatens. Each plant will give you four or five well branched stems of beautiful flowers – and they’ll still be going at Christmas.