MAY BORDER CARNATIONS
The weather has improved dramatically over the past few weeks, I had started to cast doubt on whether the plants would start to spindle and it was only last month that we had several days of freezing temperature and towards the end of last month we even had the odd hail and snow showers, so my fears were grounded. Now with this warmer weather the stems are really starting to elongate, I had noticed that on some cultivars the leaves had joined together and were actually starting to rot as they would not open, this was far more than curly tip and I put it down to the very cold snap that must have sent the plants into some form of check and stopped them growing; so I thought I would spray these damaged stopped plants a dose of Epsom Salts just to give them a boost and start them growing again and it seems to have worked although some of the leaves look unsightly the stems are now growing.
The task of tying the stem to the cane seems to increase daily so it’s a job to go around every morning to make sure the stem is growing straight. As previously stated I normally attach rings at regular intervals on the stem to the cane but leave the new growth until it is strong enough before attaching a ring. The one thing you have to be very careful of is reaching over to the pots at the back as it is quite easy to catch one of the shorter stems in the front pots and damage it. I find it is best to have some working space where pots can be taken to be inspected, apart from attaching the stem to the cane it is also a good idea at this time of the year to give the plants a good looking over for any pests.
Spraying should be a priority now that the weather has improved, sticking to a weekly or monthly regime should keep the plants clean, try to make sure the new growth at the base is given maximum priority as these are next year’s plants and it is far better to have clean healthy stock.
Be very careful when reaching over pots to get to those pots behind as it is very easy to catch the stem of the one in front and damage it.
I only attach a ring when the stem starts to support itself but do not leave this to long as the stem at this time of the year elongates at a very rapid rate.
The recent warm spell has brought the Pinks on and some unfortunately are starting to spindle and have buds forming. I have in the past removed these if they are far too early but this year I intend to leave alone and use any early stems for cut flowers for the home. I do feel Pinks are excellent value as they flower continuously and it only takes a few stems to keep the house full of scent. Keep the stems and growth contained with the hoops and do not disbud, stems are shown with all side buds. At this time of the year I normally still spray the plants with contact sprays but will soon change to a systemic spray as once the stems start budding I find contact sprays will mark the flowers, there are several brands on the market that will give up to two months protection which will see me past the shows. If you can then its best to move the Pinks outside and only bring them undercover when flowering. Water only when needed.
I have visited quite a few Horticultural shows and there seems to be one every week at this time of the year, Malvern being one of my favourite shows and it was at Malvern where I took a very keen interest in a stand displaying carnivorous plants. I find these plants absolutely fascinating; they look as though they are from another world and after having a chat with the stall holder I decided to purchase a couple of plants. These were called Drosera Capensis commonly known as the Cape Sundew and they trap insects by their sprawling tentacles which have glistening dewdrops to attract them. The reason I purchased them was to see if they could help with a problem I am having with Sciarid flies. The adults of which live on and around the compost surface of pots in the greenhouse and it would seem I have imported them in when I took delivery of some Fuchsia plants. I could have just drenched the pots with a pesticide but to be honest I try if possible to use alternative means and hence the idea of the carnivorous plants. Well I am pleased to report that they have been excellent, my instructions were simple, do not feed them, use only rainwater to water and leave them to it and they have certainly worked for their supper. The tentacles have caught that many flies that the problem is nearly under control. I also gather that they are very frost hardy and are easy to propagate, so next year I will have a carnivorous army!!
Left and right top:
The leaves looked unsightly and had stopped elongating but below left the plants look OK now and I am quite pleased with the way they are growing.
The P/FS are growing away well and need extra hoops now.