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Short term gardening pain for long term gain

Shirley Lanigan

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Shirley Lanigan

Short term gardening pain for long term gain

As your late spring bulbs finish off flowering and begin to look ropey, the thing to do is to feed and hide them.
The first action is to make sure that they will be big and beefy next year. The second is so that you don’t have to look at them as they get tattier and tattier and go downhill.
I mentioned a while back, that I planned on transplanting all potted daffodils into the ground so that they can naturalise in the grass.
This has now been done, but it is no pretty sight. They will look pathetic for the next few weeks. The long strappy leaves are wilting and looking all sad and forlorn.
But this is temporary.
Long Term Planning
This operation was a bit of long term planning, aimed at saving me work in future and making one particular corner of the grass more interesting for many springs to come.
I will continue to water and feed them until they yellow and die down. At that point I can cut the grassed area. It doesn’t matter that they look yeuch because they are in an out of the way spot, not visible from everywhere. I will continue to transplant the rest of the daffodils around here until I have no loose pots of daffodils left at all.
The same thing can be done with hyacinths – although these will not be planted into the grass. They will be rehomed into various quiet corners in the borders. Planting them close to a path, or the edge of a border makes most sense, because these are low growing flowers and it is good to know that I will be able to see them flower when they come up next year.
In the meantime, all the house plants are now growing at a pace. This is the time to freshen them up a bit. Most have been growing for the last year in their current pots and they have slurped the last drop of nutrition from their compost. They badly need a feed if they are going to continue to grow well. So the thing to do is to decant them into fresh soil and probably, a slightly bigger pot.
Clear a table to work on, either inside or out, covering it with a tarpaulin or a sheet of plastic. This is messy work.
Tip each plant out of its old pot. Shake any loose compost from around the root ball and repot it into a new, slightly bigger pot, adding in the amount of potting compost necessary. Do not be tempted to put a small plant into a much larger pot as when you water it, the little rootball sitting in that vast expanse of un-needed compost will rot. Always repot into one size up.
Make sure to use the right compost for your various plants. Most indoor plants will need a slightly, heavy soil-based compost. Look for a John Innes mix. Add in a sprinkle of organic plant food to that mix. If you grow cacti, you will need a free-draining cactus mix. Orchids too need their own type of compost.
Do not use a bag of ordinary multi-purpose compost for all these. It is too light and peaty. It has not the solid substance required for mature plants and if it is left to dry out, it is almost impossible to re-wet.
The various different composts can be ordered from whatever local garden centre that is doing deliveries. You might be lucky enough to have old stocks of compost in your shed though. Some of you - the more dedicated - will know how to make your own.
Once repotted, sink the plant pot into a bucket of water and leave it there for a half an hour. Then take it out and let it drain before putting it back in its place where it can now embark on a good busy growing season.
By the end of May you can put most indoor plants outside for the summer. They thrive on this. The rain is great to clear their pores of dust and grime and by the time October comes around, you will have bigger happier plants with shiny leaves to bring indoors. Hopefully you still have the space to accommodate these summer-grown giants indoors!