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 Begonia Tubers

With the winter months coming to an end and spring on the horizon, you may well look to the garden and start plotting another year of beautiful borders and overflowing hanging baskets.

In recent years, Begonias have soared in popularity for their versatility and reliability. These colourful favourites will solve all your summer garden needs, from hanging baskets and window boxes to borders and pots. With such a shining reputation, its an easy choice to make but you may be wondering which variety is for you.

This week we’ll help you get a head start on that summer planning with our comprehensive guide to Begonias.

History

Although it has been theorised that Begonias have been around for thousands of years, the plants first got their name in 1690. The renowned botanist Charles Plumier named the plant after his colleague and friend Michael Bégon, a fellow plant collector.

Native to the slopes of the Andes, tuberous Begonia thrived naturally in the cool mountain temperatures and moist shade of the Amazon rainforest. Hundreds of years of propagation and hybridisation has given us the larger, more colourful and diverse Begonia. Nowadays we are spoilt for choice, with everything from giant, double flowering show-stoppers to unusual, fringed favourites.

Variations

Begonia Double Mixed 3/4cm

 

 

Double Flowering – Ruffled, double flower heads. Clusters of brightly-coloured, delicate petals create a cheerful rainbow of colour on a bed of attractive green foliage.

 

 

Begonia Splendide Mixed 5/6cm

Cascading and Splendide– This range includes our cascading, exhibition size cascading and Splendide, which will create a truly graceful display. Trailing double begonias with a graceful, trailing habit, perfect for hanging baskets, large pots on the patio. The Giant Cascading Begonias produce an avalanche of  large double blooms which can reach up to 15cm across. Our Splendide variety boasts large, double flowered blooms and a vigorous cascading habit.

Begonia Non Stop Collection 5/6cm

Non-Stop – As the name suggests, these beautiful Begonias will keep producing endless flowers throughout summer, making them a premium choice for your garden displays. These summer flowering plants are ideal for pots, bedding, containers and window boxes where the almost endless addition of flowers will be hard to miss.

 

Begonia Odorata Mixed (Exhibition Size)

Fragrant Odorata – A range of premium cascading begonias in elegant shades of pink, red and white with the added bonus of a very pleasant fragrance.

Begonia Multiflora Richard Galle

 

 

Multiflora – A cheerful selection of low-growing, bold, brightly-coloured flowers with lovely olive green foliage. These lovely Begonias are ideal for front of border or containers where they will flower all summer long.

 

Begonia Superba (Mighty Mini) Mixed

Superba (Mighty Mini) – Our range of premium upright Superba Begonia, Mighty Mini Begonias are a great addition to the summer garden. This colourful upright favourite produces a dwarf and compact habit, coupled with large sixed flowers that catch the eye easily. Supplied as 4/5cm tubers, unless otherwise indicated, they really will produce a superb display, as the name suggest!

Begonia Fancy Frills Pink 3/4cm

 

Fimbriata – Large vibrant blooms with serrated edges stand upright on a bed of spades shaped foliage. Give your patios charm throughout summer with their red, pink, yellow, white and orange frilled blooms, also known as Fringed Begonias.

Tubers

Tubers can even be stored over winter and reused year after year, making the Begonia plant excellent value for money. Preferring half-sun and rich, moist soil with good drainage, we recommend that Begonias are grown indoors first and planted outdoors only when all traces of frost have disappeared.

Growing Begonias from quality tubers helps improve results. We only supply the best grade tubers possible to offer you the best results. They are simple to plant, care for and the high level of results they achieve make them an easy choice when growing Begonias.

Begonia sizes are measured by the diameter of the tuber. The tubers are counted into breathable bags and carefully packed to be delivered to you. Many of our varieties are supplied either as standard size (3/4cm) great for mass planting or exhibition size (5cm+) excellent for large flowering displays. We always state the tuber size so please check the description before ordering.

How to Grow

You can follow some top tips for success with Begonias below, or watch our video series with Jeff for his sage advice on planting cascading Begonias for hanging baskets.

  1. You can start planting Begonia tubers from February onwards. Mix some good top-soil with one-sixth part of manure should form the basis. Once you’ve prepared the soil, add some leaf mould in a mix of 1 part leaf mould to 3 of loam and enough sand to make a fairly porous compost. Soot and bonemeal added to the compost will be appreciated.
  2. As soon as the shoots of the tubers are about 2cm long pot them up in 15cm pots and place them into larger pots as the roots reach the sides of the pot.
  3. Plant in full sun or partial shaded areas. The more access to sun, the more vibrant the colours will be.
  4. You can feed once every two weeks with a high potassium up until the blooms begin to fade.
  5. Make sure they are watered regularly during the summer and that the soil is not allowed to dry out. Begonias love moisture and will use up quite a lot during the hotter spells in the summer.
  6. Lift tubers after flowering has finished and the leaves have begun to turn yellow. Store in a dry, cool (but frost-free) location over the winter. Store in soil that is only a little moist and keep this a little moist over the winter (with irregular watering) to keep the tubers from drying out.

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Grow Your Own: Blueberries (A Modern ‘Super Food’)

Fruit_BlueberryIt’s inevitable that each New Year we will constantly read and see ways in which we must improve our lifestyle and become healthier all around. In gardening terms this often means going “organic” and what can be more organic than growing your own fruit and vegetables. There are of course many wonderful choices of fruit and vegetables to get you started, and personal choice should always be the best reasoning for choice. Reading through the usual Sunday papers in early January got me thinking about my own personal favourites, and right up there on top of my list has to be the Blueberry, or Vaccinium to give them their proper name.Great tasting fruit to give you a health kick

The deliciously sweet tasting fruit grown from the Blueberry bush is the most appealing part of this summer fruit. The lovely small, round and colourful fruit appears in abundance throughout the summer, into autumn, providing months and months of enjoyment. Almost all Blueberry shrubs are self-fertile, but to enhance production and yield then why not try growing with partners/pairs. By planting with multiple varieties and various harvesting dates, this allows you to extend the season and allow for more wonderful fruit. Once established and properly cared for they will fruit easily year on year. By growing fruit yourself you can allow them to fully ripen on the vine prior to harvesting for a sweeter taste, a luxury that many large scale growers cannot achieve due to economic restrictions.

We have all come to refer to the Blueberry has one of the most healthy fruits around and it’s easy to see why. Recent research have helped shine light on the high levels of antioxidants, minerals and vitamin C present within Blueberries and often sees this labelled as a modern day ‘Super Food’. By growing your own fruit you control the level of pesticides used within your product, a major concern for many when buying mass produced products.


Blueberry_DixiHow to grow your own Blueberries

Blueberries are versatile enough to accommodate growing in the ground or in containers spread out around the patio. Planting in acidic soil is vital to the success of Blueberries, with a PH level of four/five. Make sure the soil is well aerated and rich in humus. If planting in containers then make sure they are large enough to allow the roots to fully spread, and add a handful of crocs or pebbles to the bottom of the container.

Looking after Blueberries is relatively easy and suitable for all skill levels. Make sure the soil is kept moist throughout, but never allowed to become waterlogged. Many organic gardeners choice to use recycled or rain water instead of tap water, to save the environment and in fact this should help keep PH level of the soil a little more balanced. We suggest applying a liquid feed once a month to help encourage larger and more successful fruit.


Top Varieties to Try

1. Blueberry Top HatThe versatile and compact Blueberry Top Hat produces white flowers during spring which develop slowly into fruits come summer before its foliage finally turns reddish-green as autumn approaches. One of our best-selling varieties, the Top Hat Blueberry plant will thrive in a patio container, and grows to a mature height of just 50cm tall making it the perfect choice where space in minimal.

 

2. Blueberry Pink LemonadeBlush white flowers are followed by flavoured and good textured Pink Blueberries in August. Although self-fertile, you can plant in pairs to achieve a greater crop. A real garden novelty, equally effective as an ornamental shrub with all year round interest. Height 1.5m.  

 

 

3. Blueberry Spartan (Early season Flowering)Blueberry Spartan is a popular early fruiting variety, reaching heights of 1m. The fruit is high in Vitamin C and can be eaten fresh of the tree or for culinary purposes such as creating a pie or tart. Pot grown plants supplied.

 

4. Blueberry Dixi (Late season flowering)The versatile and compact Blueberry Late Season Fruiting Dixi shrub, also known as the ‘vaccinium corymbosum’, is an intensely flavoured variety, producing fruit in August and September as well as fragrant foliage which is highly attractive to bees and other pollinators.

 

5. Blueberry Giant Patriot The largest and juiciest of all blueberry shrubs, Patriot fruits July/August. Blueberry Giant Patriot produces some of the largest and most flavoursome fruits of all blueberry varieties. This impressive specimen  produces fragrant foliage which is highly attractive to bees and other pollinators. Grows to a mature height of one metre, supplied as a 9cm potted plant.