Monday, 25 August 2008

Search and Rescue...

… of the sad plants past their season. The sad plants that have remained unsold in the corners of garden centres until they look almost dead. The bargain corners that everyone walks by. Don’t get me wrong I like to search for a bargain the same as the next person however I am more drawn to rescuing the plant - especially if it is one that I like or one that I would like to try propagating from.

What about these other sad plants found in supermarkets tucked in displays beside the brightly coloured cut flowers? Because of the artificial lighting they always look washed out. Their greens can look grey and their branches limp. However at the moment, here in the UK, small packs of plug plants growing in gel are being sold there. I spotted some a couple of weeks ago that caught my eye.


They looked relatively fresh so I decided to rescue a pack of 24 small plug plants. I potted them up into larger pots putting two per pot in opposite corners as you can see in the photo above. They are quite happy now in my small greenhouse.

Then I spotted the same plant again in another of the same store - and rescued another pack! I like to plant big drifts of the same plant/colour flowing through adjoining borders. I potted them up and then yesterday would you believe it? Yep... I was compelled to rescue another pack which you can see still in the gel above. Mm… I think I have perhaps done my bit now for this plant.


Pottering in the garden or greenhouse really can be a great way to unwind or to take your mind off something – like the daughter out learning how to master the art of driving round roundabouts in the next town before she can sit her test! It wasn’t long before I was completely in the zone of plants. I had filled my pots with compost, popped the plugs out and positioned them ready for planting.


Space is always at a premium in the greenhouse but when the greenhouse it is small you really want to pack as much in as possible. I have found that square pots work best for me.

A few years ago I made a birthday request for 100x 11cm pots that I had seen after an internet search. I had calculated that this was the best size for the greenhouse staging that I had. I then found that by placing six of these pots in a standard seed tray I could then move them about in my greenhouse so that all plants could get good periods of light. This worked so well that I then ordered another 100. They have been a great buy.


So what were the plug plants that I bought? Well, I have a soft spot for violas (I don’t like pansies though) and when I saw the deep red colour on the packaging it was a winner for me. I also liked the little yellow faces of this viola and with the name ‘babyface’ it just made me smile.

I always find myself smiling when I walk by my greenhouse when it has lots of new young plants in it. It really is like a nursery to me!! It is at this time of year my tiny greenhouse really gets the most use as I begin propagating. I love the challenge in making new plants from the ones I have.

After planting up my plug plants I was really in the zone. Next I thought I would try to increase my stock of my white Japanese Anemone (not sure which variety). My original plant, and now stock plant, could be seen from my greenhouse. It has been flowering since the end of July which is unusually early.

Dividing a Japanese Anemone is often unsuccessful however if you tease away young plants that are growing around the main plant this seems to work. I had noticed a few when I passed the other day so with my hand fork at the ready I began digging to tease away any possible new plants. Once again, I was in search and rescue mode as these plants as would be unable to grow properly there anyway as they were tucked under my Acer and grasses.


Gosh, I got many more than I bargained for! However as there were tree roots from my Acer in this area some of the plants broke near the root. I took them all to my greenhouse and began potting them up. I so love making new plants in this way.

However, what should I do with the ones that had snapped at the root? I decided I would still try to propagate from them in much the same way I would do a cutting. I have absolutely no idea if this will work but I thought I would give it a try.


I planted the plants without roots into my pots. I removed most leaves and cut any larger ones in half. I watered them. Often it is suggested that to keep a cutting from drying out you can put a clear plastic bag over the pot and fix it securely with an elastic band around the pot. Last year however I found an alternative to this method.

Instead of putting the bag over the pot I put the pot in the bag! Not just any bag though – a zip and seal bag. It really worked a treat and had the added bonus that you could open it and look inside to see how the cutting was doing. It was getting dark by the time I finished as you can see in the photo above. A job well done and my daughter had returned with a job well done too!


Looking at the photo above of this wonderful Japanese Anemone flower, taken last September, you can easily see why I would want to spread it around my garden. Usually these new plants can take up to two years to flower but some can flower the next year. They are very much worth the wait especially when I know I searched around the bottom of the main plant and rescued them!

The photos above were taken in my greenhouse unless otherwise stated on August 25h 2008.

8 comments:

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Do you rescue flowers too because that's what I do too. When I find one whose stem is broken I take it inside and put it in a vase. I even take home flowers like that I found lying in the street. Good job on recueing the violos and what a splash of colour they will add to your garden. My double pink Japanese Anemone had produced seedlings (single double) which I have transplanted (with a nice root system) into my new border but they do not do so well. Next time I try potting them up like you did.

BTW it's happy hour at Bliss! ;-)

artistsgarden said...

Two of my favourites - I adore white Japanese Anemones - I got very excited when we moved here to discover Anemones in the garden - but they were pink :(
And you are right - violas are just so happy.
Karen

Cheryl said...

Hi Shirl....just wanted to pop by and say thank you for your positive comments on my blog.....I have a lot to think about now and you certainly gave me food for thought.......I am grateful....

Kim said...

I can just imagine you in the zone in your greenhouse. I'm sitting here in the envy zone for your anemones. I left mine at our house when we sold it, and the new owners ripped out all my gorgeous gardens and planted grass. I'm reworking my perennial border in a few weeks and adding anemones!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What a lovely reward when rescuing plants. I have a white Japanese Anemone. I just planted them this spring. They have their first blooms right now.

HappyMouffetard said...

Wow - you've been busy! I love to rescue plants too - three ill-looking lavenders for £1 each last year now hum with life from the hundreds of visiting bumbles.

kompoStella said...

the zip & seal bag idea is great!!! i'll try that out on my cuttings - thanks.

shirl said...

Hi there Yolanda, Karen, Cheryl, Kim, Lisa, Happymouffetard and kompostella :-)

Yolanda – Yes, I sometimes do that too. Ah… the violas are doing very well with a number in flower already. I must nip these first flowers out but it always seems so cruel. Yes, I would recommend potting them up – I will likely plant mine out a year from now. I also initially did the same as you. Now these new plants are giving flowers in other parts of the garden. You happy hour was way to much fun :-D

Karen – Similar tastes then :-) Funnily enough I haven’t been so lucky with pink anemnones although this year I have a few flowers from more rescued plants :-D

Cheryl – You are most welcome. I completely understand where you are coming from. Best wishes :-D

Kim – Yep… I really was in the zone! Argh… it is so sad when that happens. Have fun with your new border and enjoy your anemones once again :-D

Lisa – It is, I love doing it! Great, I hope you enjoy your anemones as much as I do mine :-D

Happymouffetard – I was, I haven’t had as much time in the garden this summer with one thing and another. Great to hear that the bees have benefited from your rescues :-D

Kompostella – I would definitely recommend them. I have used it for a couple of years now and it works a treat. Good luck with your cuttings :-D