Posts Tagged ‘slugs’

Hosta ‘Krossa Regal’

May 22, 2010

I was speaking to a group of gardeners the other day about slug-proof hostas. None is reliably so, but the blue-leaved types have a waxy coating on the leaves that the pests find less palatable.

One of my favourites is ‘Krossa Regal’, a very distinctive plant. The leaves are large and pointed towards the tips and are held on rather longer leaf stalks than is usual. This gives the whole plant a unique, vase-like appearance. Since this is one if its most attractive features, I prefer to grow mine in a large terracotta pot (painted white), so you can really appreciate the elegance of its habit.

'Krossa Regal' is one of the handsomest of the blue-leaved hostas

I always cut off the summer flowers, which to me have little charm. I was quite surprised to find a couple of audience members nodding in agreement – this is normally met with disapproval!

Cymbidium update

November 22, 2009

A second flower spike has appeared at the base of my cymbidium. Although the plant should be resting, I’ve been putting it outside on mild – and not so mild – wet days, and this seems to be doing it no harm at all. Those flower spikes should start lengthening rapidly come the new year.

I’m careful to look out for slugs, though. I often see small ones on the leaves or the pot when I come to bring it in. I just flick these off before they can do any serious harm.

Cymbidium flowers are firm and waxy in texture

I mentioned last time that I’ll need to start feeding, but haven’t decided what with yet. Watering in orchid feed is all well and good, but because of the swift drainage that the plants need, a great deal is always wasted. Besides, orchids have a low nutrient requirement anyway. I might try a foliar feed (in the wild, orchids are ‘fed’ by the detritus that washes down over them from above, not by what they absorb through their roots) – or possibly one of those fertiliser sticks that you insert at the edge of the pot.

Sweet peas

October 8, 2009

It may seem odd to be thinking about next year’s annuals when most of us are probably in the process of clearing the garden of the last of this year’s. If anything, spring bulbs are on our minds. But this really is the best time to sow sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus). The reason for early sowing is to allow the young plants to develop really good roots so that when you plant them out (next March-April) they will rip away and you’ll be cutting flowers for the house come June.

There’s no real need to soak or file the seeds before sowing, as is often recommended, as you are not really looking for quick germination here. As it is, they should shoot within two weeks. Sow the seeds either individually in special sweet pea tubes (made of paper) or rootrainers – or 4 or 5 in a 5in pot. (You need a deep pot to allow for root growth – a 3in pot will be too small.) Actually, since the seedlings will stay in the container for several months, I think the 5in plastic pot is the sensible option. Multi-purpose compost is fine.

Stand the pots outdoors, but bring them in if frost is forecast. Once germinated, the seedlings need no special care – sweet peas are hardy and cool conditions will inhibit leafy growth (which you don’t want) while encouraging good root formation. But they do need protection from mice and slugs and the very worst of the weather, so keep them in a cold frame with the lid open on mild days. Good light will stop them from going leggy.

A simple cold frame will protect seedlings over winter from the worst of the weather

A simple cold frame will protect seedlings over winter from the worst of the weather