Plant of the Month: Azaleas and Rhododendrons

Azaleas and Rhododendrons are the jewels of the late spring garden. Rhododendrons and evergreen azaleas provide interest all year round, while deciduous azaleas produce excellent autumn leaf colours. There are literally thousands of species and varieties and a huge range of flower colours. Their exquisite blooms bring notes of exotic colour to pots and containers, beds and borders and lightly shaded areas under trees.  Some are compact enough for the smallest gardens, others require the space of a woodland where they can reach massive proportions.

What’s the difference between Azaleas and Rhododendrons?

Our Top Picks

Azalea Homebush

• RHS Garden Merit Award winner

• Huge pompom-like trusses of double pink star-shaped flowers

• Easy to grow, highly fragrant and pollinator friendly

• Yellow-green deciduous foliage

• Perfect for borders, flowering hedges and containers

Rhododendron Sappho

• Purple buds open to wavy-edged white flowers with deep purple markings

• 9 flower trusses

• Easy to grow and evergreen

• Dark green, glossy ovate leaves

• Perfect for borders, hedging, screening and containers

Azalea Anneke

• Highly fragrant, large, lemon yellow flowers with gold spotting and yellow stamens

• 9 flower trusses with each flower spanning 8-10 in diameter

• Easy to grow

• Perfect for pots, containers and the border

Rhododendron Norfolk Candy

• Large, apricot-orange flushed maroon flowers

• Broad glossy forest green foliage

• Low maintenance and pollinator-friendly

• Perfect for borders or containers

Azalea japonica Pink Spider

• Large pink flowers with a white edge

 Dark, narrow foliage

• Compact, bushy shrub

• Hardy and evergreen

• Perfect for growing in the border, pots on the patio or balcony

Rhododendron Collection

• Includes one each of Sappho, Nova Zembla, Norfolk Candy and Marcel Menard

• Perfect for spring borders, pots or containers

Azalea Dwarf diamond japanese collection

 • Includes one each of Lilac, Red, Pink, White and Orange.

• Compact, small leaf Japanese Azaleas

• Masses of brightly coloured blooms

• Small, dark green foliage

• Perfect for patio pots or borders.

Planting

Planting time: October – March/April 📆

Location: Full sun/Partial shade 🏡

Flowering Time: April – July 🌸

Rhododendrons and Azaleas prefer well drained and light/acidic soil. Before planting, dig-in plenty of neutral or acidic organic matter (composted tree bark, leafmould, decomposing pine or spruce needles), and mix in well with the soil. Do not plant too deeply; all rhododendrons are surface-rooting and the roots should be just covered. Apply at least an 8cm (3 inch) mulch of chipped conifer bark or another acidic material. The mulch should be well-aerated, not firmed down.

Video Tutorial

Aftercare

Here are some handy aftercare tips to get the best performance out of your Rhododendron and Azaleas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Plant: Fritillaria (with Video Tutorial)

Looking for help and advice on planting Fritillaria bulbs? Look no further, we’ve compiled this handy guide full of information on Fritillaria planting, tutorial guide and aftercare advice.

Fritillaria Lutea (Crown Imperial)                 Fritillaria Meleagris

Fritillaria are a stunning accompaniment to any garden display with their elegant drooping bell-shaped flowers that are particularly effective when grown in groups, as well as being versatile enough to add charm to rockeries, borders, flowers beds or even on the patio in pots. Our extensive range of Fritillaria includes smaller varieties such as Fritillaria Meleagris, which produce a mixture of white and purple flowers, and taller varieties such as Fritillaria Imperialis and many bi-colour favourites such as Fritillaria Uva-Vulpis and Michailovski.

Our beautiful Fritillaria bulbs flower between April and May in the spring, and our bulb sizes vary between 5cm up to 24cm, with certain varieties growing up to 120cm. They can be planted at 8-10cm deep and 10-15cm apart in well drained/light and moist soil. They can be planted in areas with full sun access or preferably with partial shade, and can be left to naturalise in grass, borders or even cold greenhouses. Fritillaria are very hardy and are an excellent choice for border displays, rockeries or for woodland areas, where their elegant drooping bell-shaped flowers are likely to add that little something different to your garden.

In this simple how-to video tutorial, our resident gardening expert Jeff shows you how to plant Giant Fritillaria with tips and tricks for getting the best results out of your bulbs!

Aftercare

When established in the right environment you can easily begin to see fritillaria plants multiply. In good growing conditions crown imperials will readily form large clumps. If a well-established colony begins to flower poorly then lifting in early autumn when dormant, thoroughly improving the soil and replanting, or moving to a new site may be enough to restore satisfactory flowering. The bulbs may take a year or two to re-establish.

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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.

Background:

Although widely used in British gardens, the Fuchsia is native to South and Central America as well as other countries with tropical and sub-tropical climates like New Zealand and Tahiti. Renowned French botanist Charles Plumier is recognised for first coming across the much-loved Fuchsia plant during an exhibition to the Caribbean in the late 1690’s, Plumier named it Fuchsia after German Physician and botanist, Leonhart Fuchs (1501-1566). Fuchs is credited as creating the first medicinal botanical garden in Germany which he used for teaching his medical students.

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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