Garden Plant of the Month for March: Ivy

Ivy, the eternal green mystery

A touch mysterious and quietly ever-present: ivy (Hedera) is the big provider of greenery which represents a stable element in the garden through all four seasons. This ground-covering or climbing foliage shrub is hardy and evergreen. There’s a wide range of leaf colours, whilst all ivy species grow quickly and are easily trained and can therefore cover fences, wire fencing, summerhouses or walls. As groundcover ivy gives weeds no chance, which makes it the most decorative garden helper ever.

Range

Various ivy species are suitable for the garden. Green-leafed Hedera hibernica has large leaves and is very suitable as groundcover or to create partitions. H. colchica has more leathery leaves, whilst Hedera helix is the most common species and is available with various leaf shapes and colours such as green and variegated white or gold. Hedera helix ‘Arborescens’ is a more bushy plant which produces attractive black berries after flowering. A classic ivy is H. canariensis ‘Gloire de Marengo’, an impressive presence with its larger leaves and creamy white leaf edges, but not entirely hardy.

Ivy trivia

  • The name Hedera is derived from an ancient Indo-European sound which represents ‘seizing’ or ‘gripping’, which refers to the clinging roots.
  • Because the plant is evergreen, ivy symbolises eternal life.
  • Ivy also plays an important role in the garden’s ecology: birds like to nest amongst the greenery, and insects often drop by. Ivy therefore enriches the entire circle of life in its environment.
  • Ivy appears in ancient Celtic and Germanic legends as a protector (it provides excellent insulation against heat and cold when grown against a house), bringer of luck and provider of hope. Particularly when Nature is hibernating, ivy’s greenery reminds us that spring will come again.

Origin

Ivy is native to Asia, Europe and North Africa. In the wild the plant grows on trees and rocks and can climb to a height of 25-30 metres. It particularly thrives in cooler regions.

What to look for when buying

  • The pot size and the number of stems or thickness of the plant must be in proportion.
  • With Hedera ‘Arborescens’ check the distribution of buds or berries.
  • Damaged or marked leaves are usually caused by the wrong storage or incorrect shipping.
  • Ivy is prone to red spider mite, which is shown by a faint grey discolouration of the leaf.

Sales and display tips for ivy

Display ivy on a table in blocks or stripes by colour in order to draw more attention. Another way to bring this garden plant to life for consumers is to display it alongside other climbing plants such as clematis, passion flower or climbing roses for an inspiring effect. If you have the space, grow a green wall or hut using chicken-wire which can be re-styled appealingly every season.

Care tips for consumers

  • Ivy thrives in both shady and light positions, but not in full sunlight.
  • The soil may not dry out, but excess water is also not good for ivy.
  • If the plant is in a sheltered spot, such as on a veranda or balcony, regular spraying helps to prevent red spider mite.
  • Give some plant food once a month, particularly if the ivy in is in a container or pot.
  • Good to know: the clinging roots can leave marks on walls.
  • Prune in late spring after the biggest growth spurt and in the autumn before winter arrives.

More information
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Twitter: @watplantendoen
Thejoyofplants.co.uk

Winter bloomers: Houseplants of the Month for February 

With extravagant flowers, attractive green foliage and a totally natural look, winter bloomers help you get through February beaming, heading for spring!

For anyone who is longing for the spring but still needs to get through a bit more winter: houseplants that don’t worry about the seasons and are already doing their own thing with an eruption of fragrance and colour. February’s botanical beauties are Primula, Cineraria and Jasmine, offering a look which is extravagant, romantic and serene respectively. They can all cope well with the somewhat dry atmosphere indoors, and are easy to maintain: as long as you give them a drink from time to time, they will continue to grow and bloom.

February’s trio

Primula offers cheerful flowers in red, pink, white, purple, lilac and blue which make everything indoors jolly when it’s still bitter outside.

Cineraria  has green leaves with a downy grey underside. That combination of green and ash grey sets off the fabulous white, blue, lilac, purple, pink, red and bicoloured flowers beautifully.

Jasmine is an elegant shrub with dark green foliage and radiant star-shaped white flowers with a delectable scent. The long tendrils like to twist, climb and hang.

From all corners of the world

Wild Primulas often occur in the mountains in the northern hemisphere. There are some 15 species growing in the European Alps. Cineraria has travelled from the Canary Islands. And Jasmine is a (sub-)tropical plant that also does well in indoor conditions if given enough humility and warmth.

Blooming symbolism

The name Primula is derived from “Primus’ (first) because it’s one of the first plants to flower every year. The plant’s meaning is also derived from this: this winter bloomer represents a new beginning, growth and hope. Cineraria’s official name is Senecio cruentus, and it gets its meaning from its full round grown of flowers which represents  protection. And according to the symbolism of flowers, Jasmine brings purity and strength into your home. Just what we need for the last dash towards spring.

How Winter bloomers carry you into spring

  • Winter bloomers likes a light spot, but not in full sun.
  • The soil can be slightly damp. Preferably avoid overwatering.
  • Some plant food once a fortnight helps winter bloomers to maintain the strength to grow and flower.
  • Wilted flowers can be easily removed.

 The scent of jasmine is calming and relaxing according to research at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf. Which makes Jasmine an ideal bedroom plant 

Style them to suit your taste

Despite the fact that the winter bloomers Primula, Cineraria and Jasmine are somewhat different shapes, you can still style them together attractively, for example all in white, primary colours or pastels shades. For a warm welcome home, there’s nothing like a row of Primulas in bright colours to greet you. If you prefer a more restrained mood, Cineraria’s light flowers and grey leaves combine beautifully with Jasmine.

Houseplant of the Month

Winter bloomers are the Houseplants for February 2018. ‘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.

For more information see: www.thejoyofplants.co.uk
Facebook: mooiwatplantendoen
Twitter: @watplantendoen

Thejoyofplants.co.uk
Thejoyofplants.co.uk is an initiative by the Flower Council of Holland to enable consumers to discover that you feel better with plants around you.

 

Photo caption
Houseplant for February 2018: Winter bloomers

 

 

 

Garden Plant of the Month February 2018: Salix

Salix: small willow with strokable catkins

Salix (willow) is a welcome addition to a garden or patio. The branches can reach upwards, but can also hang down low. First soft silver-white catkins emerge (which is the Salix’s form of flowering), later the green leaves appear, and in winter the stems are an attractive ochre colour. The garden Salix is the mini version of the large pollard and weeping willows that grace parks, riverbanks and roads. These willow bushes are usually grafted onto a tall trunk, so that they offer the opportunity to create attractive combinations with colourful underplanting. Hence Salix combined with Primula, violas or narcissi for example can quickly become a cheerful spring feature in the garden or on the patio.

Range

The best-known in the range of mini-willows is the Salix caprea ‘Kilmarnock’, the small weeping willow. This is supplied with tall trunks which range from a few dozen centimetres to a few metres, on which the twigs with catkins hang down. Other ‘standard willows’ which are offered as dwarf varieties are arbuscula, helvetica and subopposita and cultivars such as ‘Yalta’, ‘Iona’, ‘Voorthuizen’. The appeal lies in the twigs with catkins – the leaves only developed later. Species that are sold particularly for their leaf colour are the Japanese or variegated willows, Salix ‘Flamingo’ en S. ‘Nakuro Hishiki’, which both feature small pink leaves.

Salix trivia

  • Willow catkins are an important source of pollen for insects, and attract useful honey bees and bumble bees.
  • Salix appears in both Celtic and Germanic sagas. The flexible wood is often seen as a metaphor for resilience in the face of adversity.
  • Because Salix grow so quickly, the tree is the symbol of fertility.
  • The light wood of the Salix is the ideal wood for clogs.
  • The twisted willow Salix babylonica ‘Tortuosa’ is popular as an Easter tree.

Origin

Salix is a classic from the Low Countries which spread readily across the cooler parts of Western Europe. There are some 400 species.  The plant is hardy and loves damp soil and plenty of light. They’re classic pioneer plants that particularly germinate on the boundary between water and land. People have been enjoying them for centuries: the flexible wood is still used for baskets and other wickerwork and the bark contains a painkilling substance, salicin.

What to look for when buying

Salix’s pot size and trunk length must be in proportion, and the graft must be firmly attached to the trunk. On the shopfloor be particularly careful that Salix does not dry out: the plant needs lots of water.

Care tips for consumers

  • Salix can be placed in both full sun and shade.
  • As a riverside plant, Salix likes to be in soil which is constantly slightly damp.
  • Prune if required after flowering in June. Prune the variegated Salix species in the June and September.

Sales and display tips for Salix

Surround the bushes with other early spring bloomers such as potted Fritillaria, grape hyacinths and narcissi. In order to celebrate spring and create an Easter mood, decorate a (twisted) willow with decorative eggs, chicks and lambs. Easter falls on 1 April (no joke) but purchases can be encouraged in the weeks before that with an inspiring spring display featuring Salix.

Garden Plant of the Month

Salix is the Garden Plant for February 2018. 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 a plant which is particularly popular with consumers, or which is not (yet) particularly well-known but which has the potential to do well in the garden, on the patio or on the balcony. Because everything is more beautiful with more plants.

More information:
Facebook: mooiwatplantendoen
Twitter: @watplantendoen

Thejoyofplants.co.uk
Thejoyofplants.co.uk is an initiative from the Flower Council of Holland to help consumers discover that you feel better with plants around you.

Houseplant of the Month for January: Dracaena

The perfect kick-start to the year offers rugged trunks, fabulous leaves and trendy colours:  Dracaena is a real statement plant with an exotic look.

Living room classic
Looking for a successor to the Christmas tree? Dracaena is a flamboyant living room classic which keeps things nice and green in your home. With a hint of yellow, gold, pink or red if required, because there’s a wide range of different eye-catching leaf markings available. What all Dracaenas have in common is that they’re fabulous plants that range from indoor tree to tabletop size, so that you can always find a home for them. Do wrap them up nice and warm when you’re bringing them home, because as a native of the tropics Dracaena finds it chilly if the temperature drops below 10°C.

Dracaena? Do it!
Easy companion Dracaena stores water in its trunk, and can therefore cope if you forget to water it occasionally.

Clean type According to the NASA Clean Air Study, Dracaena is one of the plants that help improve the quality of the air in your home.

Tropical look Fat, thin, bushy, woven: the combination of exciting trunks and fabulous leaves lends Dracaena a contemporary botanical look.

Primaeval greenery
In the wild, Dracaena is particularly found in Africa and adjacent islands such as Madeira, the Canary Islands and the Cape Verde Islands, although there are also a few species in southern Asia, and one in Central America. There are varieties that really do resemble a tree with a trunk, but there are also robust bushy forms which are used for hedges. They can live for a long time, and some species develop a very distinctive shape in the wild which seems to come straight out of primaeval times.

Handsome dragon

  • Very Game of Thrones: the name Dracaena is derived from the Greek word ‘drákaina’ which means female dragon, making it the perfect gift for a potential Mother (or Father) of Dragons.
  • The name refers to the resin of the draco variety, which is bright red, giving rise to names such as dragon plant or dragon blood tree. The resin is used in the paint industry.
  • The plant is the symbol of Tenerife. The world’s largest and oldest Dragon tree can be found in Icod de los Vinos: it’s called El Drago Milenario (the thousand-year-old dragon). That’s a bit of an exaggeration: the tree is probably between 250 and 350 years old.

Care

  • Dracaena prefers a light spot in order to keep the leaf markings looking good, but preferably not in full sun.
  • Only water when the soil has dried out somewhat, and preferably avoid leaving standing water in the pot.
  • Give house plant food once every six weeks in spring and summer. Do not feed in autumn and winter.
  • Dracaena cannot tolerate cold. Do not allow the temperature to drop below 10-13°C.

For more information see: www.thejoyofplants.co.uk
Facebook: mooiwatplantendoen
Twitter: @watplantendoen
Thejoyofplants.co.uk
Thejoyofplants.co.uk is an initiative by the Flower Council of Holland to enable consumers to discover that you feel better with plants around you.

Garden Plant of the Month January 2018: Camellia

Camellia japonica: flowers in the snow
It’s like something out of a fairytale: when everything is still bare the evergreen shrub Camellia japonica (also known as Japanese camellia) is already flowering abundantly. Neither cold nor snow will stop this winter bloomer. In the first four months of the year the plant sparkles with large rose-like flowers with a diameter of up to 12 cm. The combination with the large, shiny dark green leaves make it an appealing sight for everyone who wants greenery and colour on the patio, in the garden or on the balcony.

Range
There are over 2000 different cultivars of the elegant Camelia japonica, ranging from single flowered to semi-double and double flowered varieties. The most common colours are red, white and pink, but there are also lilac, salmon and bicoloured plants.

Camellia trivia

  • The plant has featured on Chinese porcelain and paintings since the 11th century.
  • The oldest Camellias in Europe can be found in the Portuguese town of Campo Bello and are some 470 years old.
  • The unique flowering time makes it one of the most frequently painted garden plants, because the garden offers little alternative inspiration in the winter and early spring.
  • In China the Camellia is a symbol of luck for the Chinese New Year (which falls on Friday 16 February this year).

Origin
As the name suggests, Camellia japonica originates from Japan, and is also native to Taiwan and Korea, where the plant prefers to grow on wooded slopes at heights of between 300 and 1100 metres. This winter bloomer is related to the tea plant Camellia sinensis and was brought to Europe in the 18th century by traders.

What to look for when buying

  • Camellia is a woody plant and comes with a plant passport that shows that the grower has complied with the European Union’s phytosanitary requirements. The passport can be found on the plant’s label.
  • When buying, check the number of buds that can flower and their state of ripeness. Dry or dropped buds are a sign that the Camellia will not flower optimally.
  • The plant must be free of pests and diseases. Brown discolouration can occur if there’s too much moisture on the petals and botrytis (grey mould) develops.

Care tips for consumers

  • Camellia japonica prefers acidic, slightly damp, easy-draining soil.
  • The plant prefers a sheltered spot in partial shade.
  • Although Camellia is hardy, it’s best to cover the plant in the event of a harsh or lengthy frost in order to prevent frost damage.
  • Don’t allow the plant to dry out, particularly if the plant is in a pot or tub.
  • Some fertiliser in March and June helps the plant to produce fresh buds.
  • Camellia does not need to be pruned.
  • Camellia japonica combines well with other acid soil lovers such as conifers, Rhododendron, Erica, Skimmia and Gaultheria.

Sales and display tips for Camellia
Stress the uniqueness of the early flowering by displaying the plant in a wintry setting, and mix various colours together in order to create greater impact. It’s easy to create an Eastern styling in the run-up to Chinese New Year (16 February) with some Chinese lanterns or a print of an old Camellia picture to create a fabulous eyecatcher amongst the early spring range in terms of colour. Briefly explain the symbolism, add a bowl of fortune cookies and Camellia instantly becomes a ‘I’ll have one of those’ plant.

Garden plant of the month
Camellia is the Garden Plant for January 2018. 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 a plant which is particularly popular with consumers, or which is not (yet) particularly well-known but which has the potential to do well in the garden, on the patio or on the balcony. Because everything is more beautiful with more plants.

More information
Facebook: mooiwatplantendoen
Twitter: @watplantendoen
Thejoyofplants.co.uk
Thejoyofplants.co.uk is an initiative from the Flower Council of Holland to help consumers discover that you feel better with plants around you.

 

Amaryllis: houseplant of the month for December

Totally ‘happy holidays’ but still a bit different, as a houseplant Amaryllis brings both peace and luxury to your interior to enjoy for a long time.

Winter wonder
Stylish and sensual Amaryllis is available in many varieties and rich earthy colours. This houseplant’s big plus is its changing appearance. A bulb produces a hollow, stately stem on which smooth buds appear.  They open out into voluminous calyxes with velvety petals in white, salmon, red, pink or even green. The flowers can reach a width of 20 cm. Very spectacular, especially because you don’t expect all that magnificence from the understated stem, particularly not in winter.

Mix of large and small
Depending on the variety, the plant has single or double flowers. There are also mini and giant versions, and one with unusual trumpet-shaped flowers. By placing a number of Amaryllis plants together you can create an attractive corner which provides both greenery and colour without dominating the rest of the room.

Interior M/F
Amaryllis’s unusual shape makes it highly appropriate for the new interiors trend which is all about the balance between masculine and feminine elements. The houseplant allows you to introduce greenery into the interior without it becoming overwhelming, and the combination of the smooth stem and the soft flower also fits well with the theme. Choose a mixture for the base as well, such as perforated metal in pastel shades or plastic with a tactile surface in order to emphasise the feeling of emancipation in the interior.

Caring for Amaryllis

  • Amaryllis likes a light spot, but not in full sun.
  • Amaryllis is bought ready to go: all the nutrients are in the bulb, all you need to do is water it.
  • Amaryllis bulbs are also sold dipped in candle wax. You don’t need to do anything with these: they will flower of their own accord when they’re ready.

At home in the rainforest
Amaryllis is a member of the Narcissus family, and includes more than 70 species. It’s native to the (sub)tropical regions of Mexico and the Caribbean down to northern Argentina. The earliest plants probably evolved in Brazil. The plant was first cultivated in Europe in around 1800.

Amaryllis trivia

  • Amaryllis’s scientific name is Hippeastrum. That comes from the Greek and means ‘knight star’, referring to the star-shaped petals.
  • Scientists have been bickering over the name for centuries, because there is also a South African Amaryllis. However, the name is so well-established that only purists still refer to the plant as Hippeastrum.
  • Amaryllis symbolises pride and enchanting beauty, but also represents warmth during the dark days of winter.
  • The red variety does well at Christmas, whilst the other colours provide cheerfulness heading towards spring.
  • According to a Mexican fairy-tale every flower houses a good fairy who will help to fulfil a love-related wish if you give the plant to someone else.

Houseplant of the month
Amaryllis the Houseplant for December 2017. ‘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.

Garden Plant of the Month for December: Festive plants: Upgrade Buxus, Laurus nobilis and Chamaecyparis to a ‘Christmas plant’

December is an atmospheric month where we spend a lot of time indoors, but we can also make the garden Christmassy with the Garden Plant of the Month for December. As well as the familiar Christmas tree, there are three attractive evergreen plants that we can transform into a festive plant: Buxus, Laurus nobilis and Chamaecyparis. By the front door, in the garden or on the balcony, these plants will certainly look very impressive with atmospheric lighting and Christmas decorations, that enables you to turn a permanent plant in the garden into a beautifully decorated festive plant. With these three evergreens, December becomes even more atmospheric!

Buxus, Laurus nobilis and Chamaecyparis: Evergreens with festive aspirations!
Buxus’s is commonly known as Box. The evergreen branches symbolise life, which is very appropriate at Christmas. This evergreen shrub lends structure to a garden, balcony or patio, particularly in winter. Buxus’s leaves also remove fine particulates from the air. Boxwood is very heavy and was used in the past to make musical instruments and sculptures. Buxus plants can be pruned to virtually any required shape – they’re almost ‘kneadable’ products. Decorated with festive materials Buxus looks fabulous in the garden in the run-up to Christmas!

The best-known festive conifer is Lawson Cypress, Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ’Ellwoodii’. This plant, which reaches a height of around 1.25 m, is very suitable for pots or containers and for ‘dressing’ beautifully. ‘Ellwoodii’ has a vertical pyramid shape, and is greyish blue. The juvenile form of the plant has upright twigs and narrow blue needles. Older plants have more tips, and the adult form has scales. It is often used as a decorated Christmas tree during the festive season.

Laurus nobilis or Laurel is also very suitable for use in an attractive pot or container beside the front door, enhancing the foliage and trunk with Christmas decorations. The globe or pyramid shapes are best suited to this. The evergreen Laurus nobilis has a stately and eminent appearance, which is referenced in the word ‘nobilis’. And if you want to use the leaves in a delicious recipe, you’ve always got the Laurus nobilis to hand.

 Caring for Buxus, Laurus nobilis and Chamaecyparis
You can keep these ‘festive plants’ healthy and attractive by following a couple of simple tips.

  • All three species should be placed in partial shade to full sun. Place the plant in well-draining, moderately damp soil, and water regularly.
  • Give the plant extra food in the spring so that they grow well and remain healthy. It’s particularly important to feed the plants regularly if they’re in pots.
  • In principle Buxus and Chamaecyparis are very hardy. Laurus nobilis can tolerate a few degrees of frost, but it’s a good idea to protect the plant or bring it indoors in the event of heavy frost.

Pruning tips for Buxus, Laurus nobilis and Chamaecyparis
All three festive plants are very suitable for topiary, and are often offered in unusual shapes. Buxus and Laurus nobilis in particular can be turned into fabulous spheres, pyramids or cylinders. The best times to prune the plants are June and the end of September. Pruning is only really necessary if the plants get too big and to keep them in shape.

More information about Buxus, Laurus nobilis and Chamaecyparis and other garden plants can be found at Thejoyofplants.co.uk.

Garden Plant of the Month
The spotlight is on festive plants like Buxus, Laurus nobilis and Chamaecyparis in December as the Garden Plant of the Month. ‘Garden Plant of the Month’ is an initiative by Thejoyofplants.co.uk. Growers and horticultural specialists from the floriculture sector select a garden plant every month at the request of Thejoyofplants.co.uk in order to inspire and enthuse. Because a garden isn’t a garden without plants.

Cyclamen: houseplant of the month for November

Bothered by the short days? Cyclamen’s cheerful colours will brighten your whole interior and stop you from sinking into the falling leaves blues.

Bright flags
Cyclamen may look dainty, but it’s a sturdy plant that grown from a chunky tuber.  And it offers a great deal. The heart-shaped green leaves grow in a rosette and often have attractive silvery or pale green markings. Delicate stems emerge between the leaves on which incredible flowers then appear which stand up like flags. They can be smooth, have frills or spread out like a skirt, and they have colours that show that Mother Nature made an extra effort.

Energetic cheerleader
Cyclamen’s colours – bright purple, pillarbox red, all shades of pink or a mixture – mean this houseplant is perfect for the trend in which colour and silliness carry you through the dark days of winter. The plants’ playful shape allows you to achieve great effects, and by using the colours in plant arrangements, you can create lines and circles of flowers. A handcrafted base reinforces the effect, such as embroidered or woven sleeves for pots or a plastic pot that you have turned into something lovely and personal with the aid of a glue gun and some old buttons.

Expressive type
Cyclamen is a member of the Primula family (also known as Primrose). The plants have a natural lust for life and grow and flower vigorously. They have real staying power, and are also expressive companions. If they feel neglected, they will drop their heads pointedly straightaway. If you place them in a saucer of tepid water, they will be proudly upright again half an hour later. That gives you a real bond with your plant.

Caring for Cyclamen

  • Cyclamen prefers a light, cool spot in the living room.
  • Water by immersing or placing on a saucer. Throw away anything the plant hasn’t absorbed after an hour.
  • Give plant food once every three weeks.
  • Cyclamen can also go outside as long as it’s not freezing.
  • Removing the wilted flowers encourages Cyclamen to carry on flowering.

From Persia with love
Cyclamen has been known as a decorative plant for a very long time. The species that occurs in the wild in the forests and rocky slopes around the Mediterranean from Spain to Iran is the ancestor of today’s houseplants. The philosopher Plato described the plant in the 4th century BC, and in the past the plant’s tuber was known for its laxative effect. Cyclamen arrived in Europe in the 16th century, and was cultivated in Queen Elizabeth I’s botanical gardens. The flower then fell out of favour for a while, but came back into fashion in the 19th century thanks to the Romantic movement, and has been with us ever since.

Cyclamen trivia

  • Cyclamen, kykla in Greek, means ‘circle’ or ‘round disc’ and refers to the round tubes that the plant grows out of.
  • Virtually all the Cyclamens that we know here as houseplants and garden plants are descended from Cyclamen persicum.
  • The Catholic Church consider the cyclamen to be the symbol of Mary’s flowering heart.
  • Cyclamen represents the empathetic, dedicated heart and for that reason it was planted around ancient monasteries and convents, ribats (the Islamic version of a monastery, a kind of walled fort) and churchyards in the countries around the Mediterranean.
  • In Japan is Cyclamen is the holy flower of love.
  • If you’re patient, leave Cyclamen to rest after flowering to enjoy a second round of flowers.

Houseplant of the month
Cyclamen is the houseplant for November 2017. ‘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.

For more information see: www.thejoyofplants.co.uk

Garden Plant of the Month for November: Osmanthus

Sweetly-scented shrub
Osmanthus is a holly-like shrub with leathery, sharp leaves and small white scented flowers. This plant has various cultivars which all differ in terms of leaf colour. It is an evergreen shrub which is also very suitable for topiary or hedging.

Osmanthus: lovingly pricking leaves!
Osmanthus is a genus of 30 species from the Oleaceae family, which also includes the olive. They are an evergreen shrub which is very hardy, originally from China, Japan and the Himalayas. They grow relatively slowly, making them easy to look after. The shrub requires little pruning and remains compact, which is ideal for on the balcony and patio. Osmanthus x burkwoodii is a hybrid of two holly-like plants. The plant has beautifully scented white flowers and is a real enhancement on the patio. Other Osmanthus species are particularly attractive because of their leaf markings and colour, and can therefore still be used effectively in the garden in November. The fact that the leaves resemble holly means we often associate the shrub with the festive period. Osmanthus heterophyllus comes in a number of cultivars, of which the best-known are ‘Tricolor’ and ‘Variegatus’ and ‘Goshiki’. Its origin and appearance mean that the plant works well in Japanese and Oriental gardens combined with other garden plants from those regions such as Skimmia and Pieris.

Caring for Osmanthus
Osmanthus will remain healthy and attractive by following a couple of simple tips. The plant is particularly hardy, and very easy in both full sun and partial shade and even full shade.

  • Osmanthus enjoys a normal humus-rich soil, not too wet and not too dry.
  • Give the plant a mixed fertiliser in spring and autumn to keep it healthy.
  • If the plant is pruned at the right time, it can last for years. Pruning too early in the winter can cause the branches to freeze.

Osmanthus pruning tips
Osmanthus does not grow particularly rapidly and only really needs pruning if it gets too big, or if it has ugly or dead branches.

The best time to prune Osmanthus is the end of February or beginning of March. It’s not a good idea to do it any sooner, since the branches can then freeze. If Osmanthus is used as a hedge or other topiary form, it’s advisable to prune it in June and September. It’s a good idea to prune every year if the plant is used as a hedge or for topiary. Osmanthus burkwoodii is best pruned after flowering in May/June, so you can still enjoy the beautifully scented flowers.

More information about Osmanthus and other garden plants can be found at Thejoyofplants.co.uk.

Garden Plant of the Month for October:Viola

Vigorous autumn bloomers! 

Everything changes very quickly in the garden in October. The trees shed their leaves, and the summer bloomers and perennials reach the end of their flowering period. But that’s not the case for violas in October. They love the somewhat lower temperatures, and keep flowering vigorously with their beautiful colours until winter comes. And then? Well then they just carry on flowering. Violas won’t be defeated by wind and weather, and create colour and atmosphere in the sombre autumn and winter months. 

Viola: tenacious flowering with twice the pleasure!
It’s no surprise that the autumn viola is one of the most popular plants in the garden. In beds, containers or pots on the balcony or patio – the viola will keeping flowering anywhere for months. A bit less in the winter when it’s really cold, but it’ll carry on again cheerfully in the spring. Plant breeders and growers have created beautiful varieties in a lovely range with yellow, white, pink, blue, orange and red shades. Violas with eyes, spots or faces sometimes create even greater contrast in the flower. There are large-flowered and small-flowered violas, and nowadays we are also seeing more double-flowered varieties. There are even hanging violas which look fabulous in bowls or fixed to the wall in a sack. Great names such as Holland, Aalsmeer or Swiss Giant are widely known amongst the large-flowered violas, and the Viola cornuta is very popular amongst the small-flowered varieties.

So there’s plenty of choice to brighten the garden with violas in October. The plants also combine well with other autumn plants such as Calluna, Gaultheria or Skimmia.  And things get truly festive in the garden in spring if bulbs have been planted below the violas in multiple layers.  The violas planted in the garden in October will then combine with the bulbs in the spring to produce an explosion of flowers. So you get twice the pleasure!

Caring for Violas
A viola is exceptionally easy to care for. Whether it’s planted in the soil or in pots or containers, it can really cope anywhere!

Violas will remain healthy and attractive by following a couple of simple tips. It’s important that they’re placed in partial shade to full sun. Plant the viola in nutrient-rich soil, and water regularly.

If the temperature is above freezing, the viola will continue to grow and flower vigorously, and will then need some extra feeding once a fortnight in order to stimulate flowering. Removing wilted flowers will also encourage the plant to flower more profusely. Once the plant has finished flowering in late spring, you can replace the violas with beautiful summer annuals.

More information about the Viola and other garden plants can be found at Thejoyofplants.co.uk.