HOW TO GROW PAULOWNIA TOMENTOSA

Paulownia tomentosa - http://www.plants.com.pk/

Commonly known as the Foxglove or Empress tree, Paulownia tomentosa is a relatively hardy ornamental flowering tree with an open, rounded habit. Native to central and western China, it is noted for its foxglove-shaped, lavender-blue blooms which appear in May, and unlike most other garden trees is best viewed from above. However with an approximate, mature height of 9-12 metres this is not always practical.

Paulownia tomentosa - http://www.anniesannuals.com/
Be aware that while the brown-felted flower buds are conspicuous throughout the winter they can be damaged by late frosts in exposed regions.

It is tolerant of pollution and it is not fussy about soil type. Paulownia tomentosa will grow poorly in the shade so always plant in a sunny position. In climates which experience frost always provide a sheltered position protected from strong winds. It will perform best in a deep, well-drained loamy soil. Avoid heavy clay soils unless they are suitably improved prior to planting.

Pruning is not usually necessary other than to remove any dead, diseased or dying branches. However if you are planning to coppice Paulownia tomentosa so that it will produce oversized foliage then it will need to be cut back to ground level in March. Any resultant suckers will need to be thinned out to produce a single stem. So vigourous is Paulownia tomentosa that on mature specimens the stem can reach 2.5-3 metres in a single season. The heart-shaped to five-lobed leaves are usually 15–40 cm across, but when coppiced can then be up to 0.6 metres across. Be aware that these larger leaves are produced at the expense of the spring flowers.

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HOW TO GROW PAULOWNIA TOMENTOSA
THE AFRICAN TULIP TREE - Spathodea campanulata
THE DEVIL'S HAND TREE - Chiranthodendron pentadactylon
THE MIMOSA TREE - Acacia dealbata
THE SILVER BIRCH - Betula pendula

HOW TO GROW CANNA LILIES FROM SEED

How to grow Canna lilies from seed



If you are looking for exotic blooms and foliage for your garden then Canna lilies are amongst the easiest to grow and the hardiest. While the native to the tropical and subtropical regions of the New World, most shop-bought, selected cultivars have been developed in temperate climates. So hardy are these cultivated varieties that they can be left in the ground to overwinter in the milder regions of southern England.

Canna lily seeds - http://mrbrownthumb.blogspot.co.uk/
Just be aware that when collecting seed from selected cultivars the resulting plants are unlikely to grow true to the parent plant. That being said, there is a chance (a slim one) that you may actually produce an even more spectacular hybrid!

You can collect your own Canna lily seeds at the end of the autumn. When the seed pods become dry they open up to reveal black seeds inside which can be easily squeeze out. Healthy Canna lily seeds are a dark, brownish-black color, and are round or slightly oval shaped. Any seeds that are cracked, misshapen or not the right color can be discarded.

The seed coats are hard to to break dormancy will need to be soaked for a few days before planting. To improve water take up consider nicking the the seed with a sharp, sterilized blade or file down the seed coat until the whiteness of the endosperm becomes visible.

Canna seedlings - http://cdn.mediateam.ie/
Sow during January or February into a large modular seed tray or individually into 3 inch pots containing a good quality compost such as John Inness 'Seed and Cutting'. Cover the seed with their own depth of compost. Gently water, then place the tray or pots inside a heated propagator at an approximate temperature of 21-24 degrees Celsius. Alternatively, seal inside a clear polythene bag and place on a warm, bright windowsill. Avoid direct sunlight during the warmest part of the day. Germination will usually take just a week or so.

Once the root systems have established in their pots or modules they can be potted on into larger pots, Keep the compost moist but not waterlogged.

Once the threat of late frosts have passed they can be harden off over a week or so before planting out into their final position. Canna lilies will perform best in a sunny, sheltered position in a moist well-drained soil.

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HOW TO PROPAGATE THE FOXTAIL LILY

HOW TO GROW PRIZE WINNING CACTUS

Prize winning cactus - http://www.akcactus.org.nz/


It’s very easy to produce a prize winning cactus. All you have to do is have one slightly better than whoever would have won had you not been competing. Of course, depending on the quality of the competition this could be easier said than done!

Now if you were not aware before, then you will need to know about those motivated folks from the British Cactus and Succulent Society (BCSS). Their love of cacti and succulents borders on obsession and for a few of them that line was walked over years ago. So if you have a BCSS club in your area then the likelihood is that there will be an official BCSS judge available, and that means the competition will be a lot more serious.

Get the basics right

Read the rules. Understand the rules. Apply the rules. As with all plant shows affiliated with the Royal Horticultural Society there will be set of rules and requirements that must be adhered to. It doesn’t matter how amazing your cactus looks, get this part wrong and you will receive a ‘Not according to Schedule’ notification. In layman’s terms this means that your entry has been disqualified. If you do not know the rules then get a copy. There is no excuse!

Are your specimens healthy and blemish free?

Cactus - http://www.semena-rostliny.cz/
If you have done your homework and your specimen fits the category requirements then make sure that it is in peak condition. It doesn’t matter how rare or old or how difficult it has been to grow, if your cactus looks sick, diseased or is actively being feasted upon by pests then you will not win your chosen category. If you are not sure of your plants requirements then do your research. Furthermore, there should be no discoloured blooms and all spines should be present and undamaged which means transporting larger, wobbly specimens with as much care and attention as humanly possible. You will notice that the more established exhibitors will tend to stick with low-growing, clump-forming or miniature cacti for ease of transporting and damage control.

Correct labels

If you do not know the botanical name of your cactus then again, do your research. Failing that, email images of your specimen to the BCSS or RHS for identification by their dedicated team of botanists and plant specialists. In a close run competition then a correctly named plant will always be chosen above one with a missing or incorrect name. Wherever possible use the genus, species and where necessary the cultivar name. All names should be correctly written as per the rules of Linnaeus nomenclature.

Pots and containers

Cactus pots - http://paradisexpress.blogspot.co.uk/
At the very least your pot or container should be clean and free from any damage. Avoid plastic pots as they look cheap and if in any doubt use a new terracotta pot with the label and glue cleaned away. While the pot or container will not gain you any points as such the more established competitor will choose pots that will help to show off cacti to their best. Pots that complement the habit or colour should always be favoured. Too small a pot will just look as though you have neglected your cacti while too large a pot will over-power your cactus and make it look less impressive. However larger pots can be used to ‘frame’ your cactus using rocks and gravels.

Top dressings

Never offer up a specimen with just the pot and the compost as a backdrop. If you have a top class specimen then provide a suitable top dressing to show it at its best. Fancy sands can fall out the pot during transportation and cheap gravel looks exactly that. There are plenty of fine grade coloured gravels to choose from, just make sure you choose the right ones to enhance the look of your plants rather than diminish them.

What do the judges want to see?

Cactus judge - http://gardeninggonewild.com/
The difference between first and second place is just a single point. So to curry favour with the judges you will need to tick several boxes:

1. Difficulty of cultivation. Anyone can grow a cactus; usually you ignore it and then water it whenever you feel guilty about its neglect. To impress the judges you will need to present a species that requires a more challenging routine and in perfect condition.

2. Present a well-balanced plant and container. See above notes for pots and containers. It is not a pot competition so you will not get extra points for having a nice container. However anything that can make your plant look better has to be worth the investment.

3. Judges want to see age in a cactus specimen. Anyone can purchase a clean looking plant from the local garden centre but nothing will impress them more than a show quality specimen with good ten or twenty years under its belt. In fact it is not uncommon to come across established competitors showing plants that are 40-60 years old! Along with age, plants in full flower will always be good for a few bonus points. Be aware that some judges will prefer any evidence of flowering to prove maturity while others will not. It is always worth having a word with the organisers for their advice on this particular point.

Cheating

If you want to try and ‘buy’ your first prize then remember that all horticultural entries must be the bona-fide produce of the exhibitor. Competition organisers usually expect show plants to have been grown for a period of at least six weeks before the show and can ask for proof if they smell anything fishy (besides carefully masked fungal rots) about your cacti.

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HOW TO GROW PRIZE WINNING CACTUS
THE BRAIN CACTUS - Mammillaria elongata 'Cristata'

THE GARDENS OF VILLA IL TRITONE

Villa il Tritone





If you have managed to catch a glimpse of the BBC2 television series 'Monty Don's Italian Gardens' then your interest may have been piqued by the glorious offering that was Villa il Tritone, Sorrento. I say 'was' as the owner and master of the garden, Rita Vessichelli Pane has since moved on to create a second horticultural masterpiece in the Bay of Naples.

The gardens of Villa il Tritone
Built during the 19th century, Villa il Tritone was founded on the the remains of an important ancient Roman villa dating back to the 1st century AD. As you would expect from the close proximity of its Mt. Vesuvius vista, the original property was destroyed, and then dragged from its cliff top position by the resulting tsunami after the volcano erupted in AD 79. The current form of Villa il Tritones was the result of improvements undertaken by Ambassador for the United States of America, the outrageously wealthy William Waldorf Astor.

The grand architectural style of the gardens were designed by the famous landscape architect Harold Peto, and are considered by some to be one of the finest in Europe. However it was the artistic hand of Rita Vessichelli Pane which not only transformed the gardens into a romantic masterpiece, but one of Italy's most important and valued gardens.

The departure of Rita Pane will inevitably affect the ongoing look of the garden, however a selection of private photographs from her period as 'informal curator' have been generously forwarded to us the 'Garden of Eaden' to be view by a wider audience.

These images are the private property of both Rita Pane and her daughter Amelia Pane Schaffner and cannot be used or copied without the express permission of said owners.

The gardens of Villa il Tritone
The gardens of Villa il Tritone


The gardens of Villa il Tritone

The gardens of Villa il Tritone

The gardens of Villa il Tritone

The gardens of Villa il Tritone

The gardens of Villa il Tritone


The gardens of Villa il Tritone

The gardens of Villa il Tritone

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HOW TO GROW COLEUS FROM SEED

Coleus border


If you are looking for ornamental foliage to create a tropical effect in the garden, then you will be hard pressed to find a better choice than selected Coleus hybrids - Plectranthus scutellarioides. In fact some Coleus hybrids are so colourful that they can provide a more eye-catching display than traditional flowering plants. Despite being very easy to be propagated from cuttings, shop-bought, pot-grown specimens can be surprisingly expensive and if you do not have a selection of stock plants available then growing coleus from seed is likely to be your best option.

Coleus seedlings - http://mistermartha.blogspot.co.uk/
When growing from seed for garden use, you will need to sow Coleus in January in order to obtain large enough specimens to plant out when the weather breaks. In cooler northern European climates this will need to be done under the protection of a frost-free environment such as a heated greenhouse or a suitable, bright room indoors.

To begin with, fill a modular seed tray with a good quality compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting'. Then simply sprinkle seeds on the surface compost and press down. Do not bury them as Coleus seeds require the presence of light to help initiate germination. If need be, provide a thin layer of vermiculite on the surface. Place the tray inside a heated propagator at a temperature of between 21-24C, keeping the compost damp but not wet. Alternatively seal the tray inside a clear polythene bag. The emerging seedlings can show colour in as little as two to three weeks, at which point remove from the propagator or bag. Water when necessary but avoid waterlogging the compost

Once rooted in the modules, the seedlings can be potted on into 7.5 cm pots. Once the threat of late frosts is over and night temperatures reach no less that a steady 10 degrees Celsius, they can be hardened of for a week or so before being planted outside into their final position.

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THE HISTORY OF THE CANNA LILY

Canna lily


Native to the tropical and subtropical regions of the New World, canna lilies are large tropical and subtropical perennial herbs noted for their ornamental foliage and exotic blooms.

Image credit - http://www.archivespasdecalais.fr/
The first species of Canna brought over to Europe was Canna indica. Yet despite its American origins was and was imported from the Dutch East Indies. Canna indica was minor food crop which had been cultivated by Native Americans for thousands of years, it had been hoped to become an economically viable food crop for Dutch colonists.

It was therefore no surprise that Charles de l'Ecluse (1526–1609), a pioneering Dutch botanist, and perhaps the most influential of all 16th-century scientific horticulturists, was the first to name, described and sketched C. indica during the 16th century.

There is a little confusion as the species name 'indica' means India. Now while this first species arrived in Europe from the East Indies, the 'indica' name refers more to the
West Indies as we have to remember that in these contemporary times the American continent was in fact believed to be the 'other side' of India. As history reminds us, Christopher Columbus speculated that, as the world was round, he could to reach the East Indies by sailing westward. So when he landed in the Americas in 1492, rather than accept the possibility that he had reached a continent previously unknown to Europeans, Columbus called the inhabitants of the lands he visited Indios - Spanish for 'Indians'.

It wasn't until the 1860's that hardier the species of Canna made it into European gardens and it quickly became a plant of choice for Victorian plant breeders who at the time celebrated all things exotic.

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BUY TOMATO 'GIGANTOMO' - 8 Seeds


Buy Tomato 'Gigantomo' seeds


If you are looking to grow giant tomatoes then Tomato 'Gigantomo' F1 hybrid may be just the thing you are looking for. It is a purpose bred, colossal beefsteak tomato and the largest new variety on the market. It has the much-loved flavour of the traditional heritage varieties, but with the benefits of the inbuilt vigour, productivity and disease-resistance of modern cultivars.

Online seed shop
To make the most of the shorter growing seasons of northern European climates you are growing Tomato 'Gigantomo' under the protection of a greenhouse or polytunnel then commence sowing the seeds from February to March. If you are growing directly outside then sow under protection from March to April with the view to planting outside into their final position once the threat of late frosts have passed.

Using 3 inch modular seed trays or 7.3 cm pots a good quality, free-draining, compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting'. Sow Tomato 'Gigantomo' seeds onto the surface at a rate of two seeds per pot or module. Tomato seeds require the presence of light to help germination so cover with just a fine sprinkling of compost or vermiculite. Place the trays or pots in a propagator at a constant temperature of around 15-20 degrees Celsius.

Germination will take approximately 7-14 days. When the seedlings have produced two true leaves, remove the smaller of the two seedlings. Once the root systems has established in the modules they can be potted on into individual 7.5cm (3") pots and grown on at a minimum temperature of 15 degrees Celsius. Under favorable conditions you can expect Tomato 'Gigantomo' F1 hybrid to reach an approximate height of 200cm and with a spread of 50cm. Each fruit can weigh upwards of 3lbs or 1.4 kg!

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HOW TO PROPAGATE THE JAPANESE ANEMONE FROM ROOT CUTTINGS

The Japanese anemone - Anemone hupehensis

The Japanese anemone - Anemone hupehensis, is a hardy ornamental flowering plant native to central China. It was introduced to English gardens in 1844, and since that time became something of a darling of Victorian propagators who subsequently produced a number of popular selected cultivars.

The following have received the Award of Garden Merit from the the Royal Horticultural Society:

'Bowles's Pink'
'Hadspen Abundance'
'Honorine Jobert'
'K├Ânigin Charlotte' ('Queen Charlotte')
'Pamina'
'September Charm'


Sections of anemone roots - Image credit www.artistsgarden.co.uk
The Japanese anemone is easily propagated through division between October and March, but this shouldn't be done until after the parent plant had has a chance to establish itself for several years.

Alternatively, root cuttings can be taken between November and January.

Insert 1-2 inch sections into pots containing equal parts of peat and sand by volume. The cuttings should be about 2 inches apart so that the horizontal cut surface at the top of the root is just below the surface of the compost and top dress with a 3/8 inch layer of grit.
Water the compost lightly and place the pots in a cold frame.

In the following spring, pot up individually when the cuttings show signs of growth and are well rooted. Grow plants on and plant out the following year.

HOW TO GROW THE JAPANESE ANEMONE


The Japanese anemone - Anemone hupehensis, is a popular ornamental flowering herbaceous perennial native to central China, and naturalised in Japan for many hundreds of years. It was introduced to English gardens in 1844 by Scottish botanist and plant hunter Robert Fortune (1812-1880) who noted that is was often planted about graves.

Under favourable conditions the Japanese anemone will reach a height 60-100cm and should be spaced 60cm apart in group plantings. Appearing from August to October, the blooms are 40–60 mm across, with 5-6 sculpted pink or white sepals and prominent yellow stamens. Double-flowered forms can produce up to 20 sepals.

How to grow the Japanese anemone - www.bookishgardener.com
These plants will thrive in any fertile, well-drained but moisture-retentive soils. They will perform best in shady areas and under protection of larger plants, in all but the hottest and the driest conditions. They are especially sensitive to drought or over-watering, so plant into any good well-drained, but moisture retentive soil. In dry soils, moisture holding can be improved by mixing in perlite or vermiculite into the ground before planting.

In favorable conditions, Anemone hupehensis can be invasive or even weedy, throwing out suckers from the fibrous rootstock, to rapidly colonise an area. Once established they can be extremely difficult to eradicate. On the other hand, they can take some time to become established.

Cut the stems down to ground level after flowering.

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THE WINDFLOWER - Anemone blanda

HOW TO PLANT LILY BULBS

How to plant Lily bulbs - http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/

The genus Lilium is well known for providing gardeners with a wide range of highly ornamental, tall, flowering perennials. Furthermore, many of the species, as well as a huge number of selected cultivars, are suitable for growing in temperate and subtropical regions. Despite being found across much of the new and old world, lilies are specialist plants, and across the genus can be found growing in wide range of conditions. Unfortunately when buying lily bulbs there is often little, if any, cultural information available. That being said the majority of species and cultivars require fundamentally similar growing conditions which are covered below.

Lily bulbs
1. Lily bulbs are prone to drying out so if purchasing pre-packed bulb in the spring you will need to get them planted as soon as possible. Try to handle the bulbs as little as possible as they are easily damaged

2. Given favourable conditions, almost all lily bulbs can be planted in the garden, or in deep, suitably sized pots and containers. When planting in pots use a 50:50 mix of ericaceous compost and John Innes 'No 3', but provide a 5cm (2in) basal layer of drainage material, such as crocks top by small stones or grit. Some lily species such as L. auratum and L. speciosum are known to be lime-haters. These will be best planted into ericaceous compost only. If available choose a soil-based blend such as John Innes 'Ericaceous Compost'.


Pot grown lilies - https://www.gardenia.net/
3. Lilies require a free-draining soil and so if you only have heavy or clay soils where you intend to plant consider growing them as container plants. Otherwise improved drainage by digging in plenty of organic matter such as moss peat, leaf mold, and mushroom or garden compost. Avoid any soils that are prone to waterlogging. Lilies are heavy feeders, so it is recommended to add granules of controlled-release fertiliser prior to planting.

4. Lilies tend to perform best when planted in a south-facing position (northern hemisphere), with a slightly sloping aspect, in sun or part shade. Plant the bulbs a minimum of 4 inches deep to help provide basal support, and larger bulbs at a depth of approximately 2½-3 times the height of the bulb, except for Lilium candidum which should be planted at the surface. All lily bulbs should be planted with their basal plate facing downwards, and the pointed tip of the bulb scales pointing upwards.


Lilium illustration
5. Species such as L. formosanum, L. lancifolium and L. longiflorum, produce roots not just from the base of the bulb but also from the stem just above the bulb and so not only these can be planted deeper, they will also require a deeper container. Amazingly, lilies have contractile roots which pull the plant down to the correct depth, therefore it can sometimes be better to plant them too shallowly than too deep.

6. When planting in the garden, create groups of three to five using roughly the same sized bulbs. Space these groups 8-10 inches apart in mass plantings. In containers, plant the bulbs near the edge for additional support at a rate of approximately 3 bulbs to a 10 inch pot. Specimens with heavy flower heads are likely to need staking.

7. For pot grown specimens, ensure the compost is moist at all times, but not waterlogged. Feed with a high potassium liquid fertiliser every couple of weeks during the growing season.

8. Take care when watering to avoid getting the blooms wet. If lily flowers become too wet and do not dry out before the cooler temperatures of nightfall set in, fungal infections may have an opportunity to take hold.

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THE TURK'S CAP LILY - Lilium martagon

HOW TO GROW ONIONS FROM SEED


Culinary onions, are amongst the most consumed, as well as one of the most popular for garden and allotment production, vegetables around. Yet despite their all-year-round availability in the supermarkets, their crispness and flavour will always come a poor second when compared to a quality home produced onion. And if you think that growing onions isn't your thing then think again as they are very simple to grow from seed.

Red and White - http://www.oniongardening.com/
Of course you have the choice of growing onions from onion sets and while these too are easy to produce a crop from your choice of cultivars are somewhat limited. Furthermore, seed grown onions are known to perform better, are less prone to disease, store better, and bulb up faster than those grown from sets. So, to grow what you like, how you like, and to a highest quality, then the way forward is to grow onions from seed.

You can direct sow onion seeds directly into a prepared seed bed outside. However the further north you are the shorter the growing season and so you may choose to get a head start and make the most of the available growing season by starting off your onion seeds indoors a couple of months before the expected last frost.

Onion harvest - http://www.pesches.com/
Irrespective of which technique you choose, you would be wise to prepare your onion bed in the previous autumn or winter. Onions will require a sunny position in a well-drained, light, friable loam enriched with a couple of buckets or well-rotted farm manure or garden compost per square yard. On heavy or clay soils, double dig the soil, adding plenty of coarse sand, grit, moss peat. Remove any stones you come across.

Sprinkle 5oz of carbonate of lime per square yard. and to finish apply a top dressing of general purpose granular fertilizer at a rate of 4 oz per square yard.

Avoid growing onions on freshly manured soil, and particularly wet ground, try growing onions in a raised bed. Prior to sowing, rake over the surface to create a fine tilth.

How to direct sow onion seeds

Onion seedlings - http://www.vegetable-garden-guide.com/
Direct sow onions outdoors anytime from mid-February to the end of March provided the soil surface is is dry and friable.

Sow the seeds thinly at a depth of 1cm (½"), and a distance of 30cm (12") between rows. It will help to draw a straight line in the soil about 2 cm deep and then cover once sown. Water the soil if it is not already damp.

When large enough to handle, thin onion seedlings to 10cm (4") apart for medium sized bulbs. Water freely during dry spells but not once the bulb start to ripen.

Remove any weeds at the earliest stage possible to reduce competition for nutrients and to avoid damaging the roots of nearby onions.

How to start onion seeds off indoors

Onion seedlings - http://tastytravels-holly.blogspot.co.uk/
Sow onion seed indoors in module seed trays using a good quality free-draining, seed compost at a depth of 1cm (½"). Place the tray in a heated propagator or seal inside a plastic bag at a temperature of 10-15C (50-59F). You can expect germination to occur within 10-14 days.

Once germinated, remove the tray from the propagator or polythene bag and grow on in cool conditions. When all risk of frost has passed and once the onion seedlings are large enough, plant outside in to their prepared bed at a distance of 10cm (4") apart. It is advisable to provide a protective netting or fleece while the new plants establish as they will be at risk of attack from birds and insects. This can be removed once they have become established. Water the plants thoroughly after planting.

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HOW TO OVERWINTER COLOCASIA

How to ovewinter Colocasia


No matter how confident you are with overwintering tender plants outside, it really isn't worth trying out your skills on Colocasia as they will almost almost pick up some kind of rot on the leaves which will eventually reach down to the roots.

Therefore your best chance to have Colocasia in your garden year on year is to lift the roots.

First you will need to dig up your plants which you can do before or just after the first frosts. Of course if they have been sunk into the ground while still growing in a suitable pot then all you do is lift the pot.

How to ovewinter Colocasia
Lifting before the frosts is the best idea as this will give you a bit more stem to get hold of, making the whole process easier. Also, prior to frosts, the soil is often dryer and this makes it easier to shake off from the plant.

By trimming the roots it is clear to see the new tubers formed at the base of the stem. These can be simply snapped off by hand.

Spread the harvested Colocasia on a surface somewhere warm to dry them out. A number of them may go soft and will need to be discarded. The majority should stay firm and can be stored in bone dry compost until the spring. Keep them cool so they do not begin sprouting immediately.

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Agave
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HOW TO GROW RHUBARB IN POTS

Rhubarb container - http://blog.theenduringgardener.com/
WANT TO BUY RHUBARB SEEDS? THEN CLICK HERE FOR THE 'SEEDS OF EADEN' SEED SHOP

You can't beat the texture and flavour of freshly picked and cooked rhubarb, but what do you do if you can only source supermarket produce? Well, despite the particularly large size of a rhubarb plant it is possible to grow rhubarb in pots, just so long as you have a large enough container and the suitable space to accommodate it. Rhubarb crowns and pot grown plants will be available in all good plant retailers in the spring.

Rhubarb pot - http://www.spadespatula.com/
As you would expect by the size of the leaves, rhubarb plants have large root systems so when it comes to choosing your container, you will need one which is at least 50 cm deep and can hold at least 40 litres of compost otherwise you won't be able to produce a worthwhile crop. Remember that the larger the pot, the larger the rhubarb plant can grow, and therefore the bigger the crop produced.

Rhubarb plants thrive in direct sunlight so when positioning your container place it where it will receive as much sun as possible. Also you will need enough space to accommodate a plant that can grow to approximately 1.5 metres in diameter.

Tip 1. Place the container in its permanent position before filling with compost. Otherwise it may be too heavy to move around afterwards.

Tip 2. Makes sure that the container has been properly cleaned and that sufficient drainage holes have been provided before filling with compost.

Rhubarb crop
Fill the bottom inch with horticultural grit to prevent the compost washing out when watering. You may need to cover drainage holes with pieces of broken pots or suchlike if the grit is just going to fall through the holes.

Fill the bottom half of the container with a 50:50 mix of blended farm manure and soil based compost such as John Innes 'No 3'. Then fill near to the top with just soil-based compost.

If you are planting bare-root rhubarb crowns then plant them 1 to 3 inches beneath the compost surface. If you are not sure which way is up, the top of the crown should display swollen buds. Plant pot grown rhubarb to the same soil level as it is in the pot. Do not disturb the roots prior to planting.

Once planted, water in. Allow the top few inches of compost to dry off before planting again.

Remove rhubarb flowers as soon as they appear as these will redirect the plant's energy into seed production instead of new foliage. Feed with a top dressing of general purpose fertiliser each spring to give the plant a pre-season boost.

For related articles click onto the following links:
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HOW TO GROW YUCCA ELEPHANTIPES

How to grow Yucca elephantipes

Commonly known as the spineless yucca, Yucca elephantipes is a slow-growing, ornamental tree with low forming branches that can give a multi-stemmed effect. It is noted for its loose rosettes of sword-shaped, stiff, leathery leaves, and tall panicles of bell-shaped flowers. In mediterranean and subtropical climates it makes for an attractive garden plant, whereas in cooler temperate environments it is a popular houseplant.

Growing Yucca elephantipes as a garden plant

How to grow Yucca elephantipes
Native to Mexico, Central America and Guatemala, Yucca elephantipes is perfectly suited for growing in warm mediterranean and subtropical climates. Unfortunately this also means that it is not suitable for growing outside in northern Europe as it is unable to cope with seasonal freezing conditions.

It is considered to be the tallest of all species within the genus with a height of up to 9 m, and a spread of 4.5 m. Therefore avoid planting near buildings as mature specimens can also develop particularly large root balls

While it will perform best in a sunny position, Yucca elephantipes can tolerate partially shaded conditions although fully shaded positions will not be suitable as it will cause etiolation. They can be planted into almost all well-drained garden soils, except for heavy or clay soils. Of course these can be improved by digging plenty of organic compost and grit into the soil prior to planting. In extreme conditions consider planting Yucca elephantipes into a raised bed or large container Avoid waterlogged conditions as this will allow fungal root rots to take hold. Yucca elephantipes has proven to be drought tolerant.

Growing Yucca elephantipes as a houseplant

How to grow Yucca elephantipes - http://www.thejoyofplants.co.uk/
Houseplant yuccas are grown from what is effectively a rooted branch 'cutting'. Once the new leaf rosettes emerge it has a similar effect to a miniature palm tree.

Grow in a well-drained, low fertilizer, soil-based compost such as John Innes 'No 1'. Once the root system is fully established in their current pot they can be potted on into a larger size. This can be performed in the spring, every year or two, until the next size pot is too large to comfortably handle.

Place in as bright a position as possible as the lower light levels of an enclosed room will cause the branches to stretch, losing their ornamental value. Turn plants regularly to prevent them from leaning towards light sources.

Water sparingly, particularly during the winter and in areas of low light levels. Allowing the top inch or so of compost to dry out before watering again. Do not allow the compost to become waterlogged.

Feed with a liquid soluble houseplant fertilizer once a month during the growing season. In the northern hemisphere this will be from April until October.

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