Friday 29 March 2019

Another ceramic pot experiment

I am sure many of us are constantly on the look out for unusal plant pots for our succulents. Back in January, just happened to pop into a shop and found this one.

It really reminded me of a clump of sea anemones.

Back home and time to think what to plant in it. The planting holes are not large, and potting was going to be difficult. So slow growing and perhaps something that could just be planted and left to get on with it. Mulling over ideas my pot of deuterocohnia brevifolia came to mind. This little bromilaid, also known as Abromeitiella brevifolia f. chlorantha, forms nice mounds over time. My pot had put on a growth spurt over last summer and was looking good.

Wouldn't it be amazing to have each hole planted with these; over time they would envelop the pot forming a multitude of little mounds.  I considered splitting mine, but it was too perfect, so one project led to another and a second pot was purchases.

Doesn't it look good in its new home, It is bigger than it looks, the pot is 22cm.  

Now just the problem of finding another plant with enough heads to fill the 20 holes.  It took a while to track down a large enough plant, and it arrived yesterday.  It was straight down to seeing how many plants with roots it could be split into.

6 good plants straight away. A few more delicate splits, some with roots and some without, resulted in 14 plants.  Next job to decide which holes to fill.  I though it would look better initially to leave some empty, to allow watering and to give something different while the plants establish.

It took quite a few attempts to settle on this one. Then time to fill it, and the realisation that this was a really stupid idea. The holes were between 1 - 2cm and with a plant, many with root, getting soil in was going to be difficult.  How any times in succulent gardening do we use unusual tools.  Todays a teaspoon.

It took about 30 minutes to spoon the soil mix into the holes, shaking the whole thing to get it spred evening through the pot.  Another 15 minutes to top it up around the plants.   The the real fun started; how to get the gravel around the base of each plant.  I tried the teaspoon, my hand and finally resorted to a pair of tweezers and placing 2 or 3 small pieces of gravel at a time.  Yep 1.5 hours later and the pot was finished!

Should be fun as it fills out, initially forming individual mounds and then as these join together into one amorphous blob. It was a lot more work than expected, but should be worth it.

Thursday 28 March 2019

Wheeling out the first pots

To free up some space int eh greenhouse, or more correctly to move the pots that were on the floor stoping access, the first pots have been moved out. Nothing sensitive at the moment, so it ia mainly the echeveria agavoides forms.

From left to right: bordeaux, ebony, red edge and finally my seed grown ebony without coloured tips. They have really taken to their pots. I'm planning on taking the offsets off these to keep them as single plants, there are other pots with clumps in.

One of the other pots, is the Tonka truck.

To think i spent years trying to grow this orostachys spinosa, loosing it every winter as I thought it as a hardy alpine. Simply moving it under cover over winter was all it needed.  Now I have a truck full.

Monday 25 March 2019

Shifting from winter to summer

This weekend was another sunny one, so time to start unpacking the greenhouse and uncovering the succulent rockery.  It is a little earlier than I usually do this and still a little risky, but with no work trips in the next month I can move things back if any heavy frosts are forcast.

The succueltn rockery is planted to be hardy for London winters, this means the covers are more to keep the plants in top condition.  It therefore doesn't take long to take the two long vegetable cloches off.

There doesn't seem to have been any damage and if this summer is anything like last the growth will be amazing with such an early start. Most of the plants are well known to be hardy, like the yuccas, agaves and aloe polyphylla.

I was looking at the agave parryi hk1684 and like everything it has grown so much since being planted.  This has to be my favourite form.

Then you have the odd test plant.  In the Uk gastroaloes are becoming more common. These seem to be quite hardy and even in last cold winter they were all fine in my greenhouse so last summer one was planted out as a test, gasteria armstongii x aloe aristata.  It sailed through without problems.

There are a few major changes planned for the rockery this year.  Things have grown much quicker than expected and some of the plants have got too big, or just don't work in their locations.  So hopefully will have some good updates on the changes as we get into summer.

Sunday 17 March 2019

Plants are waking up

It's that time of year again, alternating between the joy of plants waking up and the fear of them rotting. The UK has had a very mild winter so hopefully this will reduce the amount of end of winter damage.  We just need spring to be not too wet and just for once to move smoothly from winter - spring - summer.

Anyway it's time to start waking the plants up and getting back into the garden and greenhouse.  This is about checking how the plants have done, removing any signs of rot and checking for bugs.  The greenhouse is looking good.

The manfreda / mangave bench is looking the best it ever has. I kept a closer eye on these this year having learnt that they do not like to totally dry out even over winter.  This made a big difference and even the small manfreda guttata offsets that I removed at the end of last summer, are not looking bad.  The mangave fans may spot some surprises / future posts in there.

The echeveria agavoides 'ebony' in the black bowl has formed a really good shape. It's lost some of the colour as expected, but will colour up as soon as it can be moved outside.  The large bowl is more established.

This year they seem to have held their colour much better than previous years.  Hopefully this will mean an even darker colour when they go back into their summer spot.  The bowl is now full, so it's going to be interesting to see what happens as they start to push up against each other.

It's good to be back in the greenhouse again and thinking about projects for the year. Lots in the pipeline, so hopefully we'll have a good summer.