Fragrant Feature Plants: Garden Plants of the Month for May

Party time! Five spring bloomers that are not only lovely to look at but also offer a sensory experience thanks to the delectable fragrances that they spread.

The garden as a fragrance kaleidoscope
You’re wandering through your garden or sitting on your patio and a breeze suddenly wraps you in a delectable scent. Pure nature, delivered by broom, lilac, Lantana, garden rose and Mexican orange blossom. Those are the garden plants for May, and offer both fabulous flowers and outdoor aromatherapy. They also provide a delectable buffet that attracts bumblebees, honeybees and butterflies, so that the Fragrant Feature Plants also liven things up in that way and contribute to a healthy biotope in their surroundings.

Scents & colours

Broom is mainly offered in yellow, orange, red and white, both as a bush and as a standard. The fragrance is light and sweet and slightly reminiscent of honey.

Lilac is available from XL to XS in white, lilac, pink and purple. Lilac has a clean and fresh scent.

often changes colour during flowering. The flowers are like giant gobstoppers in pink, yellow, yellow, orange or lilac and white. The scent is spicy and warm.

Rose is offered as a bush, groundcover, climbing rose, trained on a frame or as a standard in almost all colours. Anyone looking for a delicate sweet rose fragrance should check the cultivar: not every rose is scented.

Mexican orange blossom is a shrub with white flowers that stand out against the bright green leaves like stars. The leaves have a citrus fragrance, while the flowers have a sweet jasmine-like scent.

Scents of the world
The Fragrant Feature Plants each spread their delectable fragrance in a different part of the world. The Mexican orange blossom’s home is clear from its name. Lantana grows in tropical South America, whilst lilac originates from south-east Europe. And the rose has spread from Asia.

QUOTE
“Happiness radiates like the fragrance from a flower and draws all good things towards you.” Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Care tips
• The Fragrant Feature Plants like a sunny position in nutritious well-draining soil.
• All these shrubs need regular watering in order to be able to grow, bloom and share their fragrance. Preferably do not allow the soil to dry out.
• Plant food once a week will keep them blooming on and on.
• Remove wilted flowers to encourage the plant to produce more new buds.
• Lilac and broom are pruned in June after flowering, the other three after the winter in March or April.
• The only Fragrant Feature Plant which is not hardy is Lantana, which prefers to overwinter in frost-free conditions and can go outside again in April.

How to get the most out of them
The beautiful scents of the Fragrant Feature Plants are best released by a bit of heat, so place them in the sun. Because the fragrances are subtle, it helps to place them a bit higher. You will get more from them in pots and on side tables and racks on your patio than if they are planted down in the soil. In order to add to the sensory delight, select pots with raised patterns and add a cheerful wind chime. It’s going to be a great month!

Garden Plant of the Month
Fragrant Feature Plants are the Garden Plants for May 2019. The ‘Garden Plant of the Month’ is an initiative from the Flower Council of Holland. Every month the Flower Council works with representatives of the floriculture sector to choose one or more plants which are particularly popular with consumers, or which are not (yet) particularly well-known but which have the potential to do well in the garden, on the patio or on the balcony.

Bathroom plants: Houseplant of the Month for May

Want to enjoy a lovely shower or bath in a natural setting? These bathroom plants can help you to do it.

Green start to the day
Bathroom plants all like shade, high temperatures and high humidity – precisely the conditions that are found in a bathroom. And they fit perfectly with the interiors trend in which that room is more than just somewhere to dash in and out of and becomes a space to enjoy for a good start or relaxing end to the day.

Four moisture lovers

Tillandsia is an air plant with wild tendrils and a quirky shape that does not require any soil, but draws moisture and nutrients from the air.

Ficus pumila has long climbing (or hanging) tendrils and comical leaves that are variegated and/or bumpy.

Maidenhair fern is a fresh green fern with black stems and very soft leaves that grows nice and wide.

Peace lily has soft dark green full foliage with cheerful white pennants above it.

Greenery + tech = the future
Incorporating plants into your home – as with bathroom plants – fits with the trend of self-reliance, generating sustainable energy yourself and freeing greenery to become part of daily life. It is predicted that in the future plants will provide energy through bioluminescence in the same way as fireflies and luminous plankton do. So you won’t turn on the light in the bathroom, but your ficus.

Care
• Bathroom plants can cope with quite low light levels. If there’s no window in the bathroom, they can survive fairly well on artificial light.
• Steam, mist, immersion – they love it all.
• Give them some food once a fortnight. With Tillandsia you can give it in the plant spray.
• If the plants get too wild, you can simply give them a trim.

Roots in the rainforest
Tillandsia originates from Central and South America, the peace lily from the jungles of Brazil, South America and Asia, Ficus pumilia clambers and trails in the Far East, and the maidenhair fern grows primarily in China. What they have in common is that they grow in an environment that resembles a tropical rainforest. And that in turn is very similar to the bathroom after the morning rush. The moisture and steam left behind offer ideal conditions for these plants.

Green oasis
Don’t use bathroom plants to create an instant urban jungle; maintain rhythm and peace in the way in which you position them. Together, in clusters, at different heights. A sober, harmonious and defined arrangement creates a nice environment to live in. Greenery around you is relaxing, helps to purify the air and makes every bathroom more beautiful. If you want more colour, you could add bromeliads.

Houseplant of the Month
Bathroom plants are the Houseplants for May 2019. ‘Houseplant of the Month’ is an initiative by the Flower Council of Holland. Every month the Flower Council works with representatives of the floriculture sector to choose a plant which is particularly popular with consumers or is not (yet) well-known but does have the potential to do well in the living room.

Passionflower is Patio Plant of the year!

The radiant centrepiece on your patio this summer is the passionflower, with fairytale flowers and delectable green tendrils that climb upwards with the aid of corkscrew curls. There are no words to describe the beauty of the passionflower. Colours from fiery to serene. Fabulous stamens above a heart full of frills. Flowers shaped like stars. Lots of green leaves and comical spirals with which the tendrils grip onto wires, fencing or a pergola. These climbers are ideal for providing lots of colour and delight in a small area. Passionflower (scientific name: Passiflora) can climb up a pergola, post, wall or shed and thus provide a natural backdrop on the patio whilst simply being planted in a pot.   

Passion for pure
The passionflower’s nonchalant, climbing growth habit fits well with the pure nature garden trend that calls for a healthy dose of wilderness. The plant flowers all summer long until well into the autumn. Some species even bear edible passionfruit after a good hot summer. All this patio plant needs to be able to thrive is a sturdy pot, something to climb against and a sunny spot. 

Origin 
Most species of passionflower originate from the tropical and subtropical part of North and Latin America, Asia and Australia, where the plants grow in the woods and rainforests, using trees and bushes as a support to be able to climb towards the light. 

Range 
There are some 500 known species of passionflower. In addition to shades of blue and purple, the plant also comes with red, orange, yellow and white flowers. There are also deciduous and evergreen species. Some are more hardy than others. The most common species is Passiflora caerulea, which can cope reasonably well with cold. 

What to look for when buying passionflower
• Important aspects are the pot size, the number of stems per plant or pot, the height and the shape of the plant. Passionflower is offered in various shapes: in arches, columns, pyramids and along frames in trained forms. 
• Also pay attention to the stage of flowering. Sometimes the plants are still entirely in bud, and sometimes they are offered with flowers. A plant that is already showing some colour is usually most appealing to customers. 
• Passionflower is not particularly prone to pests and diseases. In the cooler months check that no there’s no serious mildew, mealybug or red spider mite present.

Displaying passionflower
Display the patio plant in various shapes and colours, preferably in a patio setting with a bench and some attractive pots. Offering the plant ready-to-go complete with pot increases the ‘just buy and place’ convenience for the customer. Also include aids for guiding the tendrils such as frames, stakes and wire in the display. Because passionflower is often still in bud, the promotional material that can be downloaded below can serve as an inspiring backdrop in order to give a picture of the glory of the plant in bloom. 

Care tips for customers
• Passionflower can be placed in both full sun and shade.
• Make sure that the roots are kept cool. A deep pot helps, as does covering the soil with a roof tile or attractive stones or shells. 
• Provide something that the plant can climb up: a sturdy wire, a wall, a pergola.
• Give plenty of water (the soil should not be allowed dry out), but ensure good drainage in the pot.
• A bit of plant food once a month keeps the flowering going.

Colour Festival: garden plants of the month for April

Cheerful colours, fabulous flowers: the arrival of the Colour Festival officially marks the start of the outdoor season!

Will you opt for serene, or go all out?
Big flowers, small flowers. Climbing, hanging and creeping. For use in beds, in pots and containers, and in hanging baskets. The Colour Festival brings spring to your garden, patio or balcony in a flash. Begonia, Verbana, Gazania and Bougainvillea are all rich bloomers that offer different forms, so that they bring instant visual delight and experience to your garden.

Introducing: Team Special C
Begonia is the sort of garden bloomer where you can hardly see the plant once it starts flowering with full, plump flowers. Bonus points for the fact that it carries on flowering.

Verbana treats you to clusters of white or brightly coloured flowers that can take a knock and that shine in both containers and hanging baskets. You will definitely enjoy them for at least two seasons.

Gazania has flowers that open in the sun and close in the evening and when it rains. That means that the plant looks different throughout the day.

Bougainvillea is a Mediterranean climber with flowers that are usually brightly coloured and with which you can bring the Riviera to your patio. All you need to do is add a glass of rosé.

United Colours of the World
Begonia and Bougainvillea originate from South America, Gazania from South Africa and Verbana can be found throughout Eurasia and the United States.

2019 colour trends
All the Colour Festival plants come in various colours, so that you can style them entirely to your personal taste. If you want to be bang on trend, there are three clear directions this year.

  1. The creamy pastels offered by Begonia and Verbana create a friendly and gentle mood as a defence against the harsh outside world. You can reinforce that feeling with round, shiny pots, containers with floral patterns and hanging baskets made of rope.

  2. A more brightly coloured style trend places the emphasis on cool blue, purple, lilac and pink, with surprising orange and yellow as accents. Use geometric pots and perspex in order to reinforce the ‘smart’ feel. Gazania and Bougainvillea play the leading role in this trend.

  3. If you’re mainly looking for peace and quiet, opt for the garden trend involving green, blue and white with black and grey or zinc pots. It can look neat and understated; ‘urban’ and ‘sustainable’ are key concepts here. Your white is provided by Verbena, Bougainvillea and Begonia, the rust colour comes from Gazania.

What the Colour Festival plants will do in your garden
• They attract butterflies and bees and hence improve the whole ecology in the area.
• They’re plants that offer lots of flowers and colour in early spring.
• Colour Festival plants flower for a long time, and retain their decorative value afterwards.

QUOTE
“Nature always wears the colours of the spirit.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Begonia: Houseplant of the Month for April

Whether you prefer opulent flowers, fabulous foliage or both, the begonia is a plant with which you can bring colour and softness into your home.

Colours and patterns
The flowering begonia has full, plump flowers and cheerful colours such as red, pink, orange, white and yellow. The enthusiasm with which the plant blooms means that in practice that you can hardly see the plant for the flowers. Foliage begonias have their own distinctive beauty in the form of velvet leaves that are beautifully marked with silver, pink, burgundy and green patterns that more than make up for the absence of flowers. Both are plants with a luxurious look which are still surprisingly simple and easy to care for.

Begonia fun!
• A begonia’s structure is completely incomprehensible
• Flowers appear in places that you don’t expect.
• Foliage begonias come in sizes from mini to garden giant.
• Surprise: small foliage begonias can have XXL leaves.
• The flowering versions can have single and double flowers, and there are also ambitious varieties with full double flowers. And then you also have the choice between hanging flowers and smooth or curling leaves: whatever suits you and your interior style.

Looking for an overview
The begonia fits well with the lifestyle trend in which there is a growing need for an overview. We don’t want lots of stuff any more, but prefer to have a couple of attractive items with the rest safely stored in the cloud. Knowing where your food comes from, cooking your own meals from fresh ingredients. Less fake news, more good news and enough rest, purity and regularity. The plant’s compact shape results in arrangements in which a lot is happening, but which are still confined: in home decor they represent power and essence.

Whether you opt for the flowering version or the foliage plant with the eye-catching leaves, the begonia is a fantastic plant to bring 2019 themes such as peace, health and sustainability into your home.

Care
Begonia needs a lot of light, but doesn’t like bright sunlight.
Some water twice a week is appreciated. The soil should be damp.
Try to avoid spraying your begonia; it can cause mildew (a fungus).
If you remove the wilted flowers, the plant will make new ones.
Plant food once a week will keep your begonia blooming.

Forest beauty
There are 1895 different species of begonia, which grows in warm, damp forest regions in New Guinea, southern Africa and the Andes. The wild version is spikier and more slender than the cultivated version, which has much fuller leaves and flowers considerably more profusely.

Trivia
• In the symbolism of flowers the begonia represents alertness, clear-speaking and a lighter life.
• In 1690 Charles Plumier, a French botanist and monk, named the Begonia after his patron Michel Bégon. He was a French botanist and diplomat in the 17th century.
• Investment tip: begonia seeds are worth lots of money. In fact, the price of one gram of begonia seeds is more than the price of a gram of gold. That’s because the seeds are very small, the size of a dust particle. 30 grams of begonia seed contains more than 2 million seeds.

Begonia – the 2019 look
Place flowering and foliage begonias in low, simple bowls. Opt for one colour as the base. At most vary the shade of colour within a group. The compact plants will then form flowering ‘cushions’ together to absorb stress. The low lines keep a room feeling spacious, the beautiful colours of the flowers and leaves provide an energised feeling and green peace respectively.

Lily: Houseplant of the Month for March

Sparkling flowers, romantic colours, a delicate appearance – the lily not only brings spring into your home, but also keeps the big bad world outside. 

Beautiful pastels 
Do you ever a look at your timeline and think: maybe we could tone it down a bit? Less vivid, less bright? You’re not the only one – the need for more gentleness is one of the lifestyle trends that is playing an important role this year. And a potted lily fits perfectly with that: lots of pliant foliage, beautiful pastel colours, a friendly vibe – let spring arrive gently in your home. There’s always a colour and variety to match your taste and interior. 

A bulb with a twist: exotic lilies in fabulous colours!

Blooming buffer
You know the lily as a cut flower and as a container and garden plant, but smaller versions are also available as a surprising compact houseplant. The pot contains a green tower topped with the beautiful flowers like a crown, both single and double (for if you want a particularly soft touch). There are varieties that provide a blooming, calming home fragrance – in aromatherapy the lily represents a sense of security – but there are also scentless lilies if you prefer.

Styling tips
• Combine them with ferns and other foliage plants to create an indoor garden 
• Opt for spring colours like pink, yellow and white with a bit of sassy orange
• Keep the pots simple: one colour, one type of material – that way the flowers will stand out even better.

World traveller
The lily is a herbaceous plant which is part of the lily family. The plant grows from a bulb and there are more than a hundred species, of which most occur in the northern hemisphere. The original plant probably came from China – the plant still grows in Korea, Japan and parts of Siberia – and spread via the Caucasus, the Balkans and the Alps to Europe and later America. In the wild you will most often find lilies in a woodland environment or on grassland. 

Care
• The lily likes a lot of light, but not bright sunlight.
• Water regularly – it’s better if the soil doesn’t dry out.
• Wilted flowers can be easily removed.

How to get the best from your lily
The potted lily is a houseplant that gives its all. You buy it in bud and place it in a good spot. It flowers like mad, treating you to fabulous flowers, and then it’s finished. If you want to give it a second life, the potted lily can be planted in the soil after flowering: the bulb is hardy and will bloom again next year.

Trivia
• The lily symbolises innocence, femininity, transience and purity.
• The Latin name Lilium probably comes from the Greek word ‘leíron’ which was used for the revered white lilies and in this context means ‘true’ or ‘pure’.
• The lily is the sort of plant around which legends spring up, because they are beautiful and mysterious and bring joy. As the Chinese saying goes: ‘If you have two loaves of bread, sell one and buy a lily.’

Blossom Trees: garden plants of the month for March

Whether you have space for an orchard or just want to harvest fruit on your balcony, there is a blossom tree to suit you which will offer you great natural entertainment over three seasons.

Flowers, bees, blossom!
Rarely is ‘Made by Nature’ so fascinating to watch as with a Blossom Tree. You acquire it looking rather bare – that’s inevitable. Luckily fabulous blossom quickly emerges on those bare branches, so that you have a cloud of white or pink interspersed with twigs and the first green shoots. Most Blossom Trees self-pollinate, although that doesn’t stop honeybees and bumblebees from getting involved too. When the blossom had drifted to the ground, the greenery really gets going. Before you know it there’s a thick crown of fresh, fairly pointy leaves on your fruit tree. And amongst them sit the first fruit. They start green and modest, and grow and ripen over the summer into delicious juicy apples, peaches or plums. The plum tree is usually the first to be harvested, followed by the peach and the apple tree. Sometimes the sequence is different – Nature decides. And that keeps things interesting.

QUOTE
“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces I would still plant my apple tree.” Reformer Martin Luther

These are the Blossom Trees
Apple tree Crab apples, eating apples, cooking apples – they all start with a fabulous apple tree (official name: Malus) which flowers from mid-April to the end of May with beautiful white blossom with a yellow heart. There are some 7500 cultivars. That’s quite a range to choose from!

Peach tree Born in China, raised in Persia. In order to be able to produce the fruit with its soft skin, this blossom tree first needs a bit of frost and then lots of sunshine. That makes it extremely suitable for a temperate climate with the new style summers that are predicted.

Plum tree Plum blossom may be the most beautiful of the lot.  The associated tree is native to central Asia and has been popular with humans for centuries. The most popular cultivars do not grow in the wild, but were cultivated some 12,000 years ago around your ancestors’ home.

Because the blossom appears before the leaves, the tree symbolises vitality in China. The wood is said to offer protection. Not a bad thing to have in your garden!

How to harvest fruit from them
• Blossom trees like to be placed in the sun with some partial shade during the day as well.
• Plant blossom trees deep so that they’re firmly secured.
• It’s good if the soil is well-draining. It’s better for the roots not to stand in water too long.
• Give plenty of water immediately after planting, then water normally after that.
• Give organic fertiliser once a month during flowering and growth. Outside that period you only need to feed once per season.
• Prune apple and peach trees in March, immediately after winter and before flowering. Plum trees are best pruned in late summer after harvesting.
• Blossom and night-time frost? Cover the tree with fleece or spray the blossom so that it freezes temporarily. This will give you a good chance of harvesting fruit later.

Adam and Eve, William Tell, Snow White – apples appear in both Greek myths and the Norse Edda sagas. It is the ‘fruit of knowledge’ that brings about awareness.

Freeze the blossom? Really?
There can still be night-time frost in early spring. If a blossom tree is already flowering, the delicate blossom can freeze which will greatly reduce the chance of fruit. You can prevent that by spraying it. When the water transitions from liquid to solid form – i.e. ice – this releases heat. That heat is called freezing heat. This means that the temperature never drops below zero and the buds therefore do not freeze.

Old plum tree branches are often twisted and mossy. After pruning they can enjoy a second life in a vase with a fabulous botanical look – pure ikebana.

Garden Plant of the Month
Blossom Trees are the Garden Plants for March 2019. The ‘Garden Plant of the Month’ is an initiative from the Flower Council of Holland. Every month the Flower Council works with representatives of the floriculture sector to choose one or more plants which are particularly popular with consumers, or which are not (yet) particularly well-known but which have the potential to do well in the garden, on the patio or on the balcony.

For more information see: www.thejoyofplants.co.uk
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Balcony plant for 2019: Bay laurel

Qualities such as fabulous green foliage and a stately appearance combined with a compact shape make bay laurel (scientific name: Laurus nobilis) a great addition to any balcony.  Bay laurel blooms with white flowers which appear as umbels in the leaf axils and later become oval berries. The plant remains green all through the year with oval leaves that feature a light vein, that looks like a feather. Bay laurel is available in space-saving shapes (pillar, standard) which work well with the limited space available on a balcony. It can even be used to create a green hedge to hide a balustrade. And the leaves? They have a pleasant fragrance, and can also be used in cooking.

Origin 
Bay laurel grows in Asia Minor and the eastern part of the Mediterranean. The Romans then brought it to Western Europe. In the wild the plant grows to be a fairly tall shrub or small tree that can reach a height of 10 meters. 

Range
The bay laurel range is limited; usually the ‘ordinary’ green-leaved variety is offered. However, there are a few cultivars with a different leaf colour and shape. Sometimes the leaves are more wavy, elongated, rounder or smaller. And sometimes the leaves are variegated in white or gold and have a light outer edge. There is a lot of choice in terms of shape, because the plant is very suitable for topiary. Hence there are pyramid, cylinder, cube, cone and ball shapes, and the trunks can be both straight and twisted.

Tips for buying bay laurel
• The pot size, height and shape of the bay laurel must be balanced and the plant must be firmly rooted. 
• Bay laurel grows slowly. Telling customers that they are acquiring a strong plant that is a few years old already, will explain the often slightly higher price. 
• Smaller pot sizes are sometimes offered in a mix with other kitchen herbs such as thyme, rosemary and lavender
• The plant must be free of pests and diseases. Watch out for scale insects which can also cause sooty mould, which badly marks the leaves. 
• When buying check that the obligatory plant passport is included as a sign that the plant is healthy.

Display tips for bay laurel 
Bay laurel’s ability to brighten a balcony can be shown in an appealing way by creating a half-open balcony using a bistro set with a bay laurel hedge and a number of different shaped bay laurels in pots. Keep the decor muted – the plants’ best feature is its attractive green foliage. Including a rack with flowering herbs helps emphasise the culinary role of the leaves.

Care tips for customers 
• You can place bay laurel in full sunlight, but it is also content in partial shade.
• Select a sturdy pot and clay soil to stop it from blowing over.
• Drooping young leaves indicate a lack of water. The bay laurel will quickly revive after some extra watering. If the plant is in a pot avoid leaving it in standing water.
• Add some plant food every month
• If bay laurel gets too much water it will show this with yellow leaves. Leave the soil to dry thoroughly before watering again.
• Feed from May to July to help the bay laurel recover from its spring growth spurt. Don’t feed after this otherwise the plant will go into the winter with too much vigour and can collapse as a result.
• Prune in June and clip into shape with sharp, clean secateurs. Always cut the branches, not the leaves. Only prune the bay laurel again in December.
• If the temperature drops five or more degrees celsius below freezing, it’s best to move a bay laurel in a container to a cool dark place such as a shed. You can also wrap up the plant to protect it. Leave to rest with very little water, and then let it gradually acclimatise to light and water again in spring.
•  Bay laurel does not like being repotted: once every 3 to 5 years is more than enough.