It’s a treat to go to the garden centre to see the vast array of plants, all ready to pot into larger containers, because in six weeks’ time we will be able to plant them outside.
Each of these little plants costs about a pound each. I am not writing about 12 plants in a seed tray, these are really special.
These plants include beautiful petunias, some with double flowers others single, and there are some such as Surfinia Petunia ‘Blue Vein’ which is heavily perfumed.
One of the most helpful ideas introduced by breeders is using coloured pictures on the plant displays.
Look at the picture to see the colour and in the small print there is a description of the plant habit.
A good example of this is the Verbena ‘Magic Purple’. This is a unique purple and unlike other varieties it is bushy, but in addition to this, it trails.
It’s wonderful for covering the appearance of pots and superb all summer long in baskets –not like lobelia, which often dies in August.
There are dozens of others. You may perhaps love ivy leafed pelargoniums or fuchsias but when the prices are added it all seems a bit daunting.
Hang on, we are talking about gardening, buy just one of each of your favourites and take cuttings!
April is an excellent time to take cuttings.
Even if you don’t have a greenhouse, the cuttings can be kept in a window out of the sun.
A plastic dome can be used as a propagator and a sheet of newspaper is placed over the top to provide shade.
Cuttings are very small. Remove some shoots about two to three inches long and remove the two pairs of lower leaves.
Turn the cutting tip down and cut just below a leaf joint (node) using a razor blade or a very sharp knife.
The cut must be clean, not jagged.
Dip the end in rooting hormone powder or liquid and then insert the cuttings firmly around the edge of a three inch diameter pot in seed compost.
A layer of sand over the surface is a good idea because as the cuttings are inserted, a small amount of sand will fall into the hole and this increases success.
Once the little cuttings have rooted in about three weeks, each one should be planted into a three inch pot in any type of potting compost.
Take out the tip once the plant is about four inches tall to ensure it will be bushy.
A bushy plant continues to flower right up until the frosts arrive.
When planting these into hanging baskets, the whole plant is placed inside the basket.
The root ball keeps the plant in place and, because none of the roots are broken or damaged, the plants continue to flower for months.