Complete Guide: Summer Bedding Geraniums

There are few things so lovely as enjoying a colourful garden in full bloom during the warmer summer weather. That’s especially true when said garden is the product of your own hard work. Summer is a time to reap the rewards of your labour and finally just sit back, relax and enjoy your surroundings.

If you’re looking for a reliable plant that can really bring that ‘wow factor’ to your summer display, Geraniums are the perfect choice and one of our most popular plants for summer baskets and bedding.

That popularity stems from the wonderful range of colours available at relatively low costs, compared to more expensive pot grown varieties. These summer bedding Geranium (Pelargoniums) are tender young plants, raised from either seeds or cuttings, making them just fantastic value for money.

Versatile Summer Plants

The benefit of incorporating Geraniums into the summer garden is their versatility. Our range can offer solutions for everything from pots and window boxes, to borders or hanging baskets.

We have had many customers send us photos over the years, where they have been growing summer bedding plants in some unique ways such as in wheelbarrows, slippers, wellington boots, old teapots, etc. Get thinking of some other great places and make a statement that few others will be able to boast of and let us know in the comments!

How are Summer Bedding Geraniums supplied?

Pelargoniums, or more commonly known as tender Geranium plants, are not to be confused with the hardy perennial types who share the same name.

Our great range of Geraniums (Pelargoniums) are supplied in one of four ways as follows

Garden Ready Plants – Our new premium range of bedding can be planted straight into their final location in your garden. These large, easy-to-grow plants come in trays of 30 at a height of up to 15cm, with each plug measuring 5cm in width. They will establish fast when planted straight into their final location, and are the best choice for last minute summer colour or novice gardeners.

Maxi plug plants – Our award-winning Maxi plus plants are supplied in trays of 33 or 66. They produce unbeatable value, with a volume per tray of up to 50% more than competitors. They can be potted up for a number of weeks to enable the roots to become even stronger before planting out into their final location.

Rapid plug plants – Trays of 120 young seed raised plants which are fantastic value for money. They are smaller than Maxi plugs but can be potted up in advance of planting outdoors in their final location. All delivered from March, through early May.

Jumbo plug plants – Supplied as large 3cm or 4cm diameter plugs which are ready for planting straight into the border or patio pots. Available in packs of six per variety or in some great money saving collections. Delivery is made from April, through early May.

How to plant Summer Bedding Geranium plants

  1. Your Geranium (Pelargoniums) should be unpacked and allowed to breathe upon arrival. If the weather is dry, give the plugs a little water on arrival and they will be ready to pot up or plant out within 48 hours.
  2. Once ready for potting up we recommend that you use a well-balanced compost mixture, such as John Innes Number 2. It is best to avoid a mixture that is too peaty as this often means the soil can become crusty/dry and thus will repel water.
  3. Make sure the soil is well watered and make a hole deep enough to firmly hold the root ball of the Geranium. Make sure during the late spring and early summer that the plants are kept watered (but take care not to over-water) and if growing in pots, make sure that the pots allow for good drainage. It often can help to raise the pots off ground level to maximise drainage.
  4. Plant in areas with as much light as possible to assist with healthy flower development. Once buds begin to appear you can consider applying a liquid feed once a week, such as a high potash feed. This should help to encourage more colourful flowers.
  5. It is beneficial during the summer months to deadhead the plants to help encourage and improve growth. Remove dead flowers heads to allow for new growth to push through and to keep looking tidy and healthy

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What about Hardy Geraniums?

Hardy Geraniums are separate from their tender, bedding counterparts. These hardy perennial plants are great as ground cover plants and will flower throughout the summer with bright colours framed by their dark green foliage. In the wild these Geraniums are often found in sand dunes and on rocky slopes so unsurprisingly they dislike overly moist soils and will do better in any well drained moderately fertile soil.

These hardy plants are supplied slightly different, such as first grade loose rooted or larger potted plants, so be sure to check out individual listings for the full information or if in doubt get in touch with us for more advice.

Geranium Ballerina, often called Cranesbill Ballerina, is a fabulous herbaceous perennial that is perfect for ground cover, low border or patio containers. It produces masses of dark green foliage which contrast well with the lovely veined pink flowers. The blooms are great for attracting bees, butterflies and other nectar loving insects.

 

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Complete Guide: How to Plant Fuchsias

 

Fuchsias, with their fairy-like blooms hanging from rich, green foliage have long been a popular staple in the British summer garden. In fact, the popularity of the Fuchsia is such that there is even a national society for them, The British Fuchsia Society. They are easy to grow and maintain, plus they provide brightly coloured summer to autumn displays in hanging baskets, containers or patio pots.

Why choose Fuchsia:

Fuchsia have a great many attributes, the greatest among them being that once planted and established they can thrive in the British climate for years with minimal amount of care, here are a few more reasons why the Fuchsia is so popular:

  • Approximately 2,000 varieties of Fuchsia in the UK which come in a range of sizes and colour combinations
  • You don’t need many plug plants to achieve a fulsome and vibrant display
  • They are prolific flowering and will bloom from summer through to autumn in partially shaded locations or in full sun
  • Their pendulous blooms are perfect in trailing hanging baskets, containers and in patio pots
  • Climbing Fuchsias can cover arches and trellis’s easily, they can even be used to disguise unsightly fences or sheds

Types of Fuchsia:

Fuchsia are usually grouped into three categories: hardy, upright or trailing. A common trait to all types of Fuchsia is how the pendulous flower-heads will bloom with the outer petal peeling back to reveal the inner petals, formed in a bell-like shape. Often the colour or shade of the outer petals will be different the inner ones; giving the blooms their fairy-like appearance. Fuchsia come in a range of sizes and colours: pinks, purples, whites red and oranges in all manner of shades and combinations.

Hardy:

A range of bushy and, as implied, hardy varieties. Once established they can be left to the British weather all year round. However, it worth considering which part of the UK you are based in. Sub-tropical Cornwall’s Fuchsias will certainly have no issues, but it may well be worth covering up or taking more Northern based Fuchsia’s inside during frosty spells. Pinch the new shoots to encourage bushy and profuse flowering.

Upright:

Upright, Bush or climbing Fuchsias can be trained into wonderful shapes. They look particularly effective when trained over an archway. The beautiful, often pendant-shaped flowers are a delight coming in in shades of pink, white and purple. Our bedding range of Fuchsia plants includes upright varieties that are ideal for pots, containers and the summer border as well as some amazing climbing Fuchsias.

Trailing:

This variety of Fuchsia is perfect for hanging basket displays and in potted displays, trailing elegantly over hanging the edges. This type is more sensitive to frosts and should be brought in during cold weather snaps. You can even get a giant variety of trailing Fuchsia which look especially effective with their ample, larger sized pendulous flower-heads.

Climbing:

These vigorous hardy climbing Fuchsias produce abundant flowers along upright climbing stems throughout the summer through to October. With a little support they will rapidly climb up arches, fences and trellis and are ideal for large pots or containers on the patio.

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How to plant Fuchsia:

  1. Plant your Hardy Fuchsias in spring or autumn. Other varieties should be planted once all danger of frosts has passed in early to mid spring.
  2. We recommended using John Innes No2 compost when planting up your Fuchsia, avoid composts that are too peaty. In pots or baskets, three plugs will give an ample and effective display. The compost doesn’t need to be tightly compacted in your chosen container, Fuchsia do well with good drainage. If planting in a border display, space 30-40 cm apart.
  3. Once planted, water once a week. Take care to keep them moist but not waterlogged. Start by feeding them once a week. To encourage more blooms on your Fuchsia, feed with a high potash liquid feed and dead head fading flowers regularly.
  4. Fuchsia can be placed in a partially shaded or sunny location; however, they will appreciate partial shade during in the heat of the day during the summer months.
  5. It’s worth checking your Fuchsias over for pests and insects. The Fuchsia gall mite is one to keep an eye out for. Although the pest is not frequently or widely reported in the UK, the past ten years has seen this Fuchsia munching pest in gardens along the south coast and in some northern counties too. A little vigilance goes a long way in deterring the mite and harsh chemical treatments are not necessary. Simply check over your Fuchsia, remove and burn any damaged shoots, especially if they appear a yellowish-green or swollen and distorted.
  6. Prune back in spring just before new growths appear. With Hardy Fuchsia it’s best to prune back to ground level.

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Complete Guide: How To Plant Calla Lilies (Zantedeschia)

Zantedeschia, often known as Arum lilies or Calla lilies, are popular exotic looking plants that are native to South Africa. They will bear narrow, lance or funnel shaped flowers in the most fantastic array of colours and are particularly effective when grown in groups within a border, or planted in pots and spread out on the patio.

They are particularly attractive when in flower, with dark green foliage (mottled on some varieties) and distinct colour flowers that can be solid or two toned.

Varieties

There are many distinctions between the different varieties of Zantedeschia but one of the most noteworthy is that some are considered as ‘Hardy’ and some are considered ‘Tender’. In theory, with our climate in the UK, all the varieties would survive a mild-normal winter as even the ‘tender’ varieties are hardy to -12 degrees celsius.

Zantedeschia Aethiopica is truly hardy and will survive temperatures down to a chilly -25 degrees!  It can even be planted in baskets and submerged up to 30cm deep for planting in and around a pond or water feature, a marvellously versatile plant.

If you are worried about a particularly cold frost or live in a very exposed location you can always add some winter protection like mulch or lift the tubers and store them over winter in a dry, cool and dark environment.  They can then be replanted in spring.

The more tender Zantedeschia can be grown as a conservatory or house plant, as well as a patio plant. These tubers should be protected from the frost with deep winter mulch.

Some of our Favourites

Zantedeschia Cantor (Calla Lily)

A very popular variety for contemporary flower arrangements, exotic Calla Lily (Zantedeschia) Cantor boasts the deepest purple of any Calla, almost black. Gorgeous waxy spathes in deep aubergine-burgundy surround a matching spadix, giving a mysterious, unusual look. Height 60cm. Flowering May-October. Top size 16cm+ tubers supplied for exhibition quality flowers which last up to ten weeks.

Zantedeschia Lipstick (Calla Lily)

The Calla Lipstick presents gentle cream spadices, surrounded by contrasting vivid pink spathes which fade to spring green at the floral chamber; where the magnificent flower head is held up by succulent tube-like stems. Broad, wavy foliage in a spring green adorn the base. Exhibition quality 16cm+ tubers supplied. Flowers May to October. Height 60cm.

Zantedeschia aethiopica (Calla Lily)

Hardy Zantedeschia aethiopica is a wonderful, well known outdoor flowering Calla Lily that is sometimes also known fondly as the White Arum Lily. This premium variety looks superb grown in groups within the flower bed and border, or equally as effective planted and grown on the patio in pots or containers. Supplied as 12cm+ tubers, they are great for naturalising and multiplying to offer larger displays as the years progress. Calla Lily aethiopica will produce gorgeous summer white flowers from late May through to June, coupled with waxy green foliage.

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How to Plant Callas

Planting Zantedeschia is an easy process – they like moist, well drained soil and not to be planted too deep (allow the tops of the tubers to be at ground level). Where possible plant them in a sunnier location as, being from native to Africa, they will really appreciate it.

Grow in humus rich soil, in full sun access. Plant the tubers shallow, so top of tubers are slightly exposed. Calla lilies can be cultivated indoors in loam based potting compost in full light. Water freely and apply a balanced fertilizer every two weeks until the flowers have faded. Keep just moist in winter.

One of the added bonuses of planting Calla Lilies in your garden or in patio pots are the absolutely stunning cut flowers they can produce. Each tuber will produce a number of stems as it flowers and this will increase as the tubers become established over the coming years. Brighten up any room with a delightful bouquet or surprise a friend / family member with a bunch of stunning flowers.

We recommend accompanying them with low-growing plants to provide filling foliage over the base areas and covering up those thin stems. Anything that provides fullness and has a shallow root system serves best as a Calla companion, such as New Guinea Impatiens, Astilbes or Hydrangeas.

Getting the most from your Tubers

Callas can be lifted after flowering so that you can store them throughout winter and plant again in spring. Simply dig them up at the end of their flowering time once they have died back, the best time for this is usually in autumn around the time the first frosts are beginning to set in. Dust off soil and place the somewhere cool and dry on some old newspaper for several days, to allow them to really dry off. These can now be stored in a dark, dry area and a cool spot in some peat moss over the winter.

Once spring arrives again and the temperatures turn mild, you can plant your Calla again and enjoy their beauty year after year!

March Plant of the Month: Magnolia

After the gloomy grey of winter, its always a joy to see the garden return to its glory in spring. Magnolia delivers that joy in abundance, bursting into life in early spring with large, magnificent blooms.

Magnolia plants are wonderful ornamental trees, available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes with something to suit any garden. These easy to grow beauties are very low maintenance, making them perfect for experts and novice gardeners alike.

Even so, here are some tips on getting the most out of your plant.

Planting tips

 

 

 

 

 

 

On arrival, plant in moist, acid-to-neutral soil in full sun or partial shaded areas. Shallow planting is required for magnolia bushes, in areas that have great drainage. It is often recommended that you provide some protection from strong winds, and provide a mulch in early spring. Do not allow plants to dry out in hot weather and water regularly.

Little pruning is required for these magnificent shrubs, but if required you can prune lightly once the flowers have faded.

Varieties

We have several varieties of Magnolia available to buy online from just £9.99, so you are sure to find the perfect choice for your garden. Here are just a few of our favourites;

Magnolia soulangeana, also known as the Saucer Magnolia or Chinese Magnolia, is probably the most popular of the Magnolia family. It has dark green leaves and deep saucer shaped flowers that are white to rosy-pink. Great for smaller gardens, as it remains a shapely shrub for many years.

Magnolia liliiflora Nigra is a compact shrub native to Southwest China and Japan, also known as the Black Lily Magnolia. The flowers are held erect on sturdy branches amongst glossy elliptic shaped leaves. Deep purple-red outer petals in a narrow tulip shape gently reflex at the tips like a lily revealing a paler colour within. Flowering April to June, later than other magnolias.

Nigra holds the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit for its reliable performance, stability of colour and form and good resistance to pests and diseases.

 Magnolia loebneria Merril is another award winning Magnolia, with branches laden with dainty buds in spring open to milky white flowers, abundant and smaller than most other magnolias. Later, oblong deciduous leaves cover the branches when the fragrant flowers have fallen. A hybrid of the magnolia kobus and stellata varieties loebneri Merrilli is prized for the upright habit and robust natures of its parents although is smaller and more free flowering than both, its mature height and spread rarely growing beyond 2m.

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Complete Guide: How to Plant Roses

Roses are a much loved addition to the garden and are guaranteed to add that classic, often times rustic feel to the summer. Few shrubs/plants will add the elegance and beauty to the British garden quite like these classic beauties.

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide of everything you need to know about how to plant Roses from choosing which variety is for you, to getting them in the ground and on-going maintenance.

Hybrid Tea (HT) Roses – Prolific flowering, scented well-formed blooms, these classic and popular roses are prized for their distinctive colour and shape.

Floribunda Roses – Produces in clusters these really give you more roses for your money! Great bedding plants and good in the vase, the blooms are open and less of a classic rose shape than the HT varieties but they do have a real charm that’s all their own.

Climbing Roses – Ideal for potting up and growing against a garden wall, fence or trellis, excellent for bringing a fairytale look and a romantic feel to your garden display.

Hedging Roses – When growing a hedge or low screen, Roses may not necessarily be a plant which jumps to mind, but we have been able to source a number of specially selected hedges which produce roses. This is an exciting and novel way of introducing not only a hedge for practical reason, but also something that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

Standard Roses – Grafted onto stems of approximately 80cm with three or more strong branches are available to buy now, a fantastic way of adding some impact the summer garden. They are perfect where space is a premium, as these compact beauties can be grown in large pots on the patio.

Miniature Roses – Small but perfectly scaled, growing to just 40-50cm. These beautiful miniature roses are ideal in containers and rockeries where space can be an issue. Despite their small size, miniature roses are extremely hardy.

Cascading Roses – Rose the Fairy form well branched plants smothered in glossy, dark green foliage. They make excellent plants, as once established require little care. They are ideal for adding to summer flower arrangements, flowers are individually small, but form double petals in large clusters giving a big impact.

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How to Plant Roses

To plant, dig a hole large enough to take the roots when fully outspread, remembering that the point at which the plant was originally budded should be sufficiently low in the hole to be 2.5cm below the surface of the soil when it is filled in. Distribute the roots evenly round the hole and put in a little fine soil to which has been added a small amount of bone meal.

Fill in a further 5cm of ordinary soil over the roots and tread in firmly. Tread in additional soil firmly at each stage as the hole is filled. Roses must be firmly planted. If they are not the winds of winter will loosen the roots and may cause the newly planted rose to die.

Generally speaking, the depth of holes in which the roses are to be planted will vary between 10-20cm but examination of the plants will show quite clearly the depth to which they were originally planted and this depth should be adhered to provided that it does place the point at which the stock was budded just below the surface of the soil.

How to Prune Roses

Tips for Pruning Bush Roses, Floribunda or Hybrid Tea

Bush Roses should be well pruned in mid-March in Southern England and further north this should be deferred at such a rate that in the North of Scotland it is done in the second week of April.

Floribunda Roses are a little tenderer and should be pruned one week later than the above dates.

Newly planted Hybrid Tea Roses should always be pruned back hard in the spring, provided the roots are firmly established, leaving only three or four eyes per stem, generally leaving about 15-25cm in length. Roses are roughly pruned in the nursery to approximately 35-45cm of stem. If left unpruned they will die back along the stem and perish or produce leggy poor specimens.

Tips for Pruning Climbing Roses

Do not prune for two years after planting and then only sparsely, removing unrequired growing tips. Weak or dead wood should be removed.

Stake well with expandable ties, driving in the stake below the head of the tree. Plant Rose Tree to old soil mark level. Put liberal amounts of planting medium in hole. Prune back well in spring to good bud.

Tips for Pruning Miniature Roses

Miniature versions of Hybrid Tea or Floribunda and should be treated the same, allowing for the difference of scale. Miniature Roses are ideal for borders and rockeries or as pot plants, though they should be in the dry atmosphere of the house only for limited periods. Prune hard after planting.

Read our Pruning Guide for More Info

Spring Photo Competition: Win up to £100 worth of J. Parker’s Vouchers

Our popular Spring Bulbs Photography competition returns for 2019, with another chance to win up to £100 worth of J Parker’s vouchers. All you have to do is share your best photographs of spring bulbs growing in your gardens this year. Here’s everything you need to know about our latest competition.

Last year we were so impressed by your entries that we awarded not one but TEN prizes to our top three winners. This year we’re offering the exact same prize; one gold prize of a £100 voucher, plus two winners of a silver prize of a £50 voucher and seven runners up awarded a prize of a £25 voucher.

1st Place – 1 winner of x Win £100 voucher for J Parkers

2nd Place – 2 winners of x Win £50 voucher for J Parkers

3rd Place – 7 winners of x Win £25 voucher for J Parkers

All entrants will also recieve a 15% discount for online orders when you enter, which will be valid until the end of June.

For a chance to win, simply send us your best spring flowering bulb photo so long as it is of your J. Parker’s products. The competition will run until 15th June 2019, so you’ll have plenty of time to snap those Daffodils and Tulips as they come into flower.

FACEBOOK Like our Facebook page and share your image to our page with the caption ‘Spring Competition entry’.

TWITTER Follow us at @JParkersBulbs and tag us in your photos with the hashtag #springcompetition

INSTAGRAM Follow us at @jparkersbulbs and tag us in your photos with the hashtag #springcompetition

EMAIL Email us at competition@jparkers.co.uk (Entry must be under 5mb – please include your name and postcode)

To get your discount code, simply enter in one of the above three ways. If you are entering by email, you should receive your discount code within 48 hours. If you have entered by Facebook or Twitter, please note we can only share our code via direct message.

Please note that we do expect a high volume of entrants, so if you haven’t received your discount code after 48 hours, please email us again at competition@jparkers.co.uk with your entry to request a code.

Please note that entries sent in over the weekend will receive their codes on Monday morning.

Your image can be of any spring flowering bulb, so long as it’s your own original image of a variety purchased from us. Examples include Daffodils, Tulips, Hyacinth, Iris, Muscari and many more, any J. Parker bulb in flower in your garden before 15th June 2019.

Here is last year’s winning photo; a stunning soft focus shot of some beautiful spring flowering Snowdrops taken by Gill K.

Its very difficult choosing a winner when we receive so many fantastic photos from all of your beautiful gardens. Previous winners have been chosen for their composition and quality, so get your photographers hat on! Here are last year’s runner up winners.

View Some of the Best entries from previous years.

Terms and Conditions for our 2019 Photo Competition include;

  • We will view all entries and any which meet the criteria outlined below will be considered for the prize of up to £100 worth of J. Parker’s vouchers, plus an additional 2 prizes of £50 and 7 prizes of £25.
  • All entries using photographs or drawings must be original images, taken/produced by the entrant. You must own all rights to the image and in entering the competition you agree to allow us to use your image in further promotions, on social media or in print.
  • Entrants agree that their names may or may not be published with their entry. No other details will be shared with any third parties.
  • The winning entry will be judged on both the quality of the plant and the image. The Judge’s decision is final.
  • Ten winners will receive either a £100 (1), £50 (2) or £25 (7) voucher to spend on any products currently offered by J. Parker’s. This cannot be exchanged for cash and there is no substitution for this prize.
  • All varieties of spring bulb will be considered, but only those purchased from J. Parker’s will qualify for the competition prizes.
  • Send your entries by email to competition@jparkers.co.uk (email under 5mb) or you can share it with us on our Twitter or Facebook page.
  • As an extra thank you all entries will receive a 15% discount on their next purchase, valid for three weeks. Enter this at basket stage to claim discount.
  • All entries will be considered, and you can enter as many times as you wish. Competition closes 15th June 2019. Winners will be notified by email before the 7th July 2019.

So send us your entries and good luck!

Complete Guide: How to Prune

Pruning is an essential job that is often overlooked, but with a little planning and preparation in advance then we can easily maintain the long term health and vibrancy of the garden.  For larger trees it can sometimes be safer and easier to consult a professional, but most pruning is a simple do it yourself job.

Why do I need to prune?

  1. Promotes healthy development – By removing the old, dying or weak branches from the trees/shrubs this will allow the structure to become stronger and flowering thus to become more prolific and less prone to disease.
  2. Maintain the ornamental appearance – Removing damaged or wayward shoots will stop the branches from becoming entangled and messy.
  3. Controls height and shape – If you are looking to keep certain plants, such as climbers or vigorous growing shrubs from becoming unmanageable, then regular and hard pruning will be a must.
  4. Promotes flowering and fruiting – Proving can improve air circulation, should result in more flowers or a much better and larger crop year on year for fruit.

How to Prune

As a starting point cut back and remove all dead and diseased wood.  Always work with the natural habit and structure of the tree or shrub, to encourage continued natural growth. This can be followed up with removing any crossing or rubbing branches at the centre of the plant.  By removing these branches which can act as a barrier to further growth, you will in fact improve circulation around the shrubs/tree, helping to reduce the likelihood of plant disease.

When removing stems, we suggest cutting at a little above healthy buds, cutting back around 0.5cm above.  Never cut back and leave short stubs.  Make all cuts perpendicular to the branch and close to the branch collar to facilitate rapid healing.

For fruit trees, its important to encourage healthy growth and a bumper crop of fruit. It’s critical to prune before the buds appear from mid-late spring.  Make sure that any rubbing or branches that cross each other are trimmed back completely.  Identify damaged or weakened branches and remove these also. Create a simple open structure where the side shoots can develop and become stronger.

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For more information, follow the links below to read our previous posts on pruning different plants;

How and when to Prune Ornamental Trees and Shrubs

How and when to Prune Climbing Plants

How and when to Prune Fruit Trees

How and when to Prune Roses

Complete Guide: How To Plant Begonia Tubers

There’s no denying that Begonias are one of the most popular and sought after flowers for the summer garden. With a beautiful and rich assortment of colours and a long flowering season, there are so many qualities to enjoy when it comes to these vibrant beauties.

Check out our guide to find out more about tubers and how to plant them, as well as a summary of our beautiful types of Begonias, so you can find a variety that best suits you and your garden’s needs.

What are Tubers?

Tubers are a thick underground part of a stem or rhizome and Begonia sizes are measured by the diameter of the tuber. Many of our varieties are supplied either as:

  • Standard size (3/4cm) – great for mass planting
  • Exhibition size (5cm+) – excellent for large flowering displays

How Do I Plant Begonia Tubers?

7 Ways to Help Wildlife in your Garden

For many people, wildlife is a welcome addition to the garden, bringing a cheerful breath of life and character to your very own backyard.

It is especially vital at this time of year, in the cold frosty months, to keep supporting your local wildlife with the space you have. Taking just a little time out of your day to make some easy changes in your garden can attract a flurry of wildlife and help do your bit for the environment.

Here are seven easy ways to make it happen;

  1. Leave a snack

Food can be scarce for animals during the winter, so this time of year is the perfect time to begin attracting wildlife to your garden. Even something as simple as adding a bird feed or scattering monkey nuts on the lawn can easily attract various wildlife to your garden. A bird table is a fantastic way of enticing birds into a specific area of the garden.

  1. Choose Shrubs for shelter and food

If you have the space grow trees and big shrubs. By devoting even the smallest part of your garden to attracting wildlife you can turn it into a paradise for beneficial birds, mammals and insects.

Birds are attracted to areas where they find both food and shelter. A good way of doing so in the autumn/winter is by planting up shrubs and trees which produce berries, such as Ilex (Holly), Pyracantha or Gaultheria. Not only will they produce valuable food but they also produce some much needed ornamental value in the Winter months.

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  1. Choose nectar-rich flowers

Bees and butterflies will visit most gardens, especially if they find plants in sunny or sheltered locations. The secret here is to make available nectar rich, fragrant flowers which are colourful and from which they feed. Lavender, Buddleia, Syringa, Forsythia and Echinacea are just a few fantastic garden favourites for attracting butterflies and all look great in the garden!

Ornamental grasses are also a popular way of making the garden appealing to seed eating birds.

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  1. Don’t forget water!

Just a little water left out can help out passing critters. Remember if you have a water feature or are near bodies of water, be sure to provide water and shelter for Toads. These are great for keeping unwanted pests at bay and if you have a pond or one nearby its likely you already have Frogs and Toads living nearby. If you have a dog remember Toads will release skin secretions which are toxic to dogs.

  1. Use an old Tennis Ball

Having a space for a water feature in your garden is a fantastic way to attract wildlife, but in the colder months freezing temperatures can create lethal conditions for your pondlife. A great tip for preventing your water feature from completely freezing over is to float several old tennis balls on the surface.

  1. Offer Shelter

Critters and bugs appreciate a little homemade shelter. A pile of old logs or bricks, some overgrown grass or turned over empty pots can all help with providing shelter for animals – Hedgehogs will happily take advantage of your hospitality and thank you by eating pesky slugs and snails – an ideal natural defender of you Hosta plants! 

  1. Go Wild

Wild gardens and meadows have been popular in recent years for their stylish swathes of summer colour. Composting and letting a few patches of your garden grow a little wild will help to encourage visitors (and what gardener needs to be told the virtues of compost!).

Online now you will find many varieties of plants and shrubs which will help you along the way, by both attracting and providing food/shelter for various forms of wildlife.

Read Some of our Best Reader-submitted Tips

February Plant of the Month: Snowdrops (Galanthus)

There’s nothing quite like the sight of delicate Snowdrops bursting into flower to signal that winter is almost at an end. The sight of snowdrops appearing late in January is a cheerful reminder of the warmer, brighter days to come.

Double Snowdrops boast all of the same features, but with novelty double flowers as a twist to the early spring favourite.

Both are great naturalisers, so will multiply and come back year after year. They are robust and easy to grow and have earned a RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Planting

You can plant dry Bulbs in the autumn or from January to March you will be able to buy snowdrops in the green.

In the Green simply means that you plant the snowdrops whilst they are in leaf. You can buy them like this, or when your bulbs come through you can lift dense clumps of snowdrops and transplant them elsewhere which will create a better display but also give the snowdrops more space and encourage them to flower better next year.

Snowdrops prefer shade, and work really well amongst shrubs or under trees. Ideally they like fertile, moist but well drained soils.

Bulbs: You can buy and plant Snowdrop bulbs in the autumn for the following early spring. Plant in moist, well-drained soil at least 5cm deep and 5cm apart. They can be grown successfully in pots and containers but only temporarily and will need to be lifted after their growing season.

In the Green: transplanted with their green foliage intact giving you a guaranteed 100% success rate. Make sure to water well once planted, to encourage their roots to re-establish with the soil.

These RHS award winners will naturalise well and you can just let them die back at the end of their season so require little after care. If you get heavy, dense clumps of snowdrops in one place lift and divide the clump when the foliage starts to fade, careful not to break any of the roots.

Make sure the soil does not fully dry out in summer.

Our Snowdrops in the Green offer guaranteed pre-grown success, supplied in the green ready to be planted straight in the ground.

Click here to shop Bulbs in the Green