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Caring for roses

Caring for roses involves several essential steps to ensure they thrive and produce abundant, beautiful blooms. Here’s our guide to keeping your garden rosy;

Planting – Choose a site with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Morning sun is ideal to dry off dew and prevent fungal diseases.

Soil – Plant roses in well-draining soil rich in organic matter. Amend soil with compost or aged manure to improve fertility and drainage.

Spacing – Provide adequate space between plants (typically 2-3 feet) to ensure good air circulation, which helps prevent disease.

Watering – Water roses deeply but infrequently, aiming for about 1-2 inches per week. Water at the base of the plant to keep the foliage dry and prevent disease.

Mulching – Apply a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around the base of the plant to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.

Feeding – Feed roses with a balanced rose fertilizer or a slow-release formula. Apply fertilizer in early spring when new growth begins and again after the first bloom cycle. We have some great  organic fertilisers such as fish emulsion and bone meal for a natural nutrient boost.

Pruning – Prune roses in early spring (just as buds begin to swell) to remove dead or damaged wood, shape the plant, and encourage new growth. Make cuts at a 45-degree angle about 1/4 inch above an outward-facing bud.

Deadheading – Remove spent flowers throughout the blooming season to encourage continuous blooming and improve the plant’s appearance.

Pest and Disease Control – Watch for common pests such as aphids and spider mites. If you see any pesky pests you can try to introduce beneficial insects like ladybirds for control.

Diseases – Prevent fungal diseases like black spot and powdery mildew by ensuring good air circulation, watering at the base, and using fungicidal sprays if needed. Remove and dispose of any infected leaves.

Winter Protection

In colder seasons, protect roses from winter damage. Mound soil or mulch around the base of the plant to insulate the roots. For climbing roses, tie canes to supports and cover them with burlap or horticultural fleece.

It’s a good idea to buy some stakes when you buy your roses as they provide support for climbing or tall rose varieties.

Hopefully with the right care, your roses will be healthy and ready to produce beautiful blooms year after year.

 

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Meet Marie

As the newest member of the Green Room team, we were keen to find out a bit more about Marie.

What attracted you to a career in horticulture?

  • I decided I wanted a more relaxed environment to work in and I love being outdoors.  I’ve always enjoyed gardening where ever I’ve lived and currently have an allotment that I’m in when ever I get a free minute. I love seeing things grow and love trying to grow a range of things.

What is your ideal flower arrangement/favourite plant?

  • I love peony or but I’m a stickler for tradition so I’d also have to say a snowdrop. The first sign of warmer weather coming!

What’s the one top tip for looking after your flowers and/or your outdoor space?

  • Try planting or growing whatever you fancy and enjoy gaining the knowledge that comes with it. You’ll have successes and failures but that’s all part of gardening and trying new things.

If you weren’t doing what you are, what would you be doing job-wise?

  • I’d probably be studying fulltime for my HNC in horticulture. But I’m actually really fortunate to have the best of both worlds in that I can study part-time and work part-time which gives me lots of experience and knowledge to put into practice.
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Repotting your houseplants

Repotting houseplants is an essential part of plant care, helping to ensure they have enough space, fresh soil, and nutrients to thrive. Here’s how:

Choose the right time

The best time to repot most houseplants is during their active growing season, typically spring or early summer.

Choose the right pot

Choose a pot that is 1-2 inches larger in diameter than the current pot. Ensure it has drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.

Prepare the plant

Water the plant a day before repotting. This helps to loosen the roots and makes the process easier.

Remove the plant from its current pot

Gently turn the pot sideways and tap the bottom to release the plant. You may need to squeeze the pot slightly if it’s made of plastic. If the plant is root-bound (roots circling the pot), you might have to carefully cut the pot away.

Examine and trim the roots

Inspect the roots for any signs of rot or disease. Healthy roots are usually white or light brown. Trim away any dead or unhealthy roots using clean scissors or pruning shears.

Loosen the rootball

Gently tease apart the roots, especially if they are circling tightly. This encourages them to spread out into the new soil.

Prepare the new pot

Add a layer of fresh potting soil to the bottom of the new pot. This provides a base for the plant.

Place the plant in its new pot

Position the plant in the centre of the new pot. Ensure the top of the root ball is about an inch below the rim of the pot.

Add fresh soil

Fill in around the plant with fresh potting soil, pressing it down gently to eliminate air pockets. Make sure the plant is standing upright and at the same soil level as it was in the old pot.

Water it

Water the plant thoroughly to help settle the soil. Ensure water drains out of the bottom to confirm proper drainage. If the soil settles significantly after watering, add a bit more soil to top it off, but avoid covering the plant’s stem.

After repotting

Place the plant in a suitable location with the right amount of light. Avoid direct sunlight for a few days to reduce stress. Continue with your regular watering and care routine, but be mindful not to overwater immediately after repotting.

Top Tips

  • Use quality potting mix: Different plants may require specific types of soil (e.g., cactus mix for succulents, orchid bark for orchids).
  • Handle with care – Be gentle with the roots and foliage to avoid damaging the plant.
  • Clean tools and pots – Sterilize tools and clean pots before use to prevent disease.
  • Repotting can be a bit messy, so it’s a good idea to do it outside or cover your work area with newspapers or a plastic sheet.

Then watch your plant bloom in its new home!

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How to grow herbaceous perennials

It’s the season to be planting herbaceous perennials – think delphiniums, ground cover clematis and iris. These glorious plants will give you great colour and interest in your outdoor space. Here are a few tips to make sure you get the best out of them. It’s important to select plants that are suitable for your soil type and garden conditions. Think about where you want to plant them and consider factors like sunlight exposure, moisture levels, and space available. Once you have decided, then it’s time to get planting!

Soil Preparation

  • Test your soil to determine its pH and nutrient levels.
  • If need be, use compost to get the right type of soil
  • Ensure you have good drainage to prevent waterlogging

Planting

  • Spring is a great time to plant them as the soil is manageable and temperatures are warmer
  • Dig a hole slightly larger than the plant’s root ball and place it at the same depth as it was in the container
  • Space plants according to their mature size and remember to take into account their spread!

Watering

  • Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged, especially as the plant is initially bedding in
  • Water deeply and infrequently to encourage deep root growth.
  • Mulch around the base of plants to retain soil moisture and suppress weeds

Maintaining healthy growth

  • Regularly monitor plants for signs of stress, pests, or diseases
  • Deadhead spent flowers to encourage continuous blooming and prevent self-seeding
  • Divide overcrowded perennials every few years to maintain healthy growth and prevent them from becoming too congested

Feeding

  • Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in spring to promote healthy growth
  • Avoid over-feeding, as excessive nutrients can lead to lush foliage but fewer flowers

Winter Care

  • Mulch around the base of plants in late autumn to protect them from freezing temperatures
  • Cut back dead foliage in late autumn or early spring to tidy up the garden and prevent disease

Support

  • Lots of herbaceous perennials can grow very tall. Make sure you have stakes or cages for tall or to prevent them from bending or breaking under their own weight

Enjoy the benefits of your labour!

  • Sit back and enjoy the beauty of your garden throughout the growing season and take time to observe pollinators and other wildlife that are attracted to your garden.
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Planting acid-loving shrubs

Planting acid-loving shrubs in pots isn’t much different from planting them in the ground, but it requires a bit more attention to soil acidity and container drainage. Here’s how;

Choose the Right Shrubs

Select acid-loving shrubs suitable for container growth – think azaleas, rhododendrons, blueberries, camellias, and gardenias.

Select the Right Containers

Use large, sturdy containers with drainage holes at the bottom. The pots should be big enough to accommodate the mature size of the shrub and allow for proper root growth. (and if you don’t have the right pot, we have plenty to choose from!)

Prepare the Potting Mix

Acid-loving plants thrive in acidic soil. Use ericaeceous compost which these kind of plants love. Avoid using regular garden soil, as it can become compacted and hinder drainage in containers.

Planting

Fill the bottom of the container with a layer of gravel or broken pottery to improve drainage. Then, partially fill the container with the potting mix. Carefully remove the shrub from its nursery container and place it in the centre of the pot. Add more potting mix around the root ball, ensuring that the top of the root ball sits slightly below the rim of the pot. Spread a thick layer of mulch over the surface to keep the compost moist.

Watering

Water the newly planted shrub thoroughly to settle the soil and eliminate air pockets. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged, as excessive moisture can lead to root rot. Water when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch.

Proper placement

Place the container in a location that receives the appropriate amount of sunlight for the specific shrub that you have planted. Most acid-loving shrubs prefer partial shade or filtered sunlight, although some varieties may tolerate full sun or full shade.

Winter Protection

Well hopefully we’ve seen the last of the really cold weather but come winter you’ll need to provide protection for the shrubs. Wrap them in fleece or move them to a sheltered spot.

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Can I re-use compost?

If you’ve been growing bubs and bedding plants, you’re likely have some spent compost at the end of each growing season. To keep waste to a minimum, you can reuse this compost in the garden.

Here’s how;

Soil Amendment – Spent compost can be used as a soil amendment to improve soil structure, moisture retention, and nutrient content. Tip out spent compost, remove any large sections of root and work it back to a smooth texture. Then add handfuls of new compost working to a ratio of 70% spent compost to 30% new compost.  You can then mix it into garden beds, raised beds, or container gardens and it can help improve soil fertility over time.

Mulching – Spread the compost around plants as mulch. Mulching helps retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and gradually release nutrients into the soil as it decomposes.

Composting – Although the used compost has already been through one cycle, it can still be added to a compost pile or bin. It will further break down and contribute organic matter to the compost, enriching it with nutrients.

Top Dressing – Use as a top dressing for lawns. It can help improve soil structure and fertility, leading to healthier grass growth.

Potting Mix- Mix it with other ingredients like perlite, vermiculite, and peat moss to create a custom potting mix for container plants. This mix can provide nutrients and improve water retention in pots.

Vegetable Gardens – Vegetable gardens can benefit from it as it will replenish nutrients depleted by previous crops. It can help improve soil fertility and support healthy plant growth.

Tree and Shrub Plantings – When planting trees and shrubs, mix some spent compost with the backfill soil. This can provide a nutrient boost to the newly planted specimens and improve soil structure around their roots.

However, remember to avoid using spent compost from diseased plants, as it may contain pathogens that could harm new plants. Additionally, if the spent compost was treated with chemicals or pesticides, it may not be suitable for use in gardens or edible crops.

 

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Taking dahlia cuttings

Bright, showy dahlias are a highlight of the late summer garden. You can increase your stock by taking basal cuttings from tubers in spring. Each tuber will give you around five new plants for free that will flower in summer.

Now we are in March this is a good time to pot up dahlia tubers (from storage or buy new ones), to bring them into growth, so you can have new shoots sprouting after a few weeks. Once healthy shoots have grown, leave some on the original tuber so that the plant can grow away strongly. Cuttings may wilt initially, but pot them up quickly and water well, and they’ll soon recover.

Rooting will occur after a few weeks, after which you can expect more substantial plants which will need potting on. Harden them off before planting in late spring after the danger of frosts has passed and give young shoots protection from insects and particularly slugs, which love to eat them.

You Will Need

· Dahlia tubers

· A sharp knife

· Multi-purpose, peat-free compost

· Seed trays or pots

· Hormone rooting powder.

· Horticultural grit

1. When stems reach 7 to 8 cm long, they should make good cuttings. Take a good look at the stems coming from your tuber and choose which stems to cut. You may need to push the compost aside so you can see where the stems emerge from the tuber. Stems that can be severed from the parent with a small amount of tuber intact are the first to try. This is because the growth hormones needed for good root development are concentrated in the tuber.

2. Take a sharp knife. This can be a gardener’s knife but a kitchen knife will also do. Ideally the knife should be clean and some growers advocate sterilisation through a flame. Hold the chosen stem and push the knife into the tuber and under the stem to cut it away.

3. If some of the light brown woody tuber comes with the stem, you have a perfect specimen. If not, don’t worry as the stem can still be used but you will need to cut the stem under a leaf node as shown in the first picture below. A leaf node is simple to spot as there is a swelling on the stem from which the leaves emerge. It should root anyway as there is also a concentration of growth hormones in the leaf node. If you want to you could dip the cut stem into some hormone rotting power or gel but this is not essential.

4. Carefully tear or cut away any lower leaves on the stem and cut the top leaves in half to reduce the amount of surface area through which moisture can be loss.

5. Fill a pot with compost. Place a pencil into the compost at the edge of the pot to make a hole and put the stem in, gently firming the soil around it. Three cuttings can usually be fitted around the edge of a 9cm pot.

6. Water the cuttings. They usually root without covering but if you have a propagator (plastic tray with or without bottom heat and with a clear plastic lid) you could use this. You could also try putting clear a plastic bag over the pot, held in place with a rubber band. Both methods reduce the moisture loss from the cutting but have the potential for the cutting to rot if the atmosphere is overly damp – so do not overwater.

7. Cuttings will take 2-4 weeks to develop roots. Resist the temptation to pull the stem to see if it has taken. You will know when it has worked as the stem will begin to grow new leaves. Alternatively, if you have some, use the see-through pots used by orchid growers, or even the plastic cups from children’s parties (with drainage holes punctured in the bottom) as you can see the roots growing without disturbance.

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Best plants for birds

Gardening with birds in mind is so important these days when small birds are challenged by problems such as climate change, habitat challenges and bird flu.

There are lots of great plants to grow in your garden and some of them provide fantastic food and shelter for garden birds as well. You don’t need to have a big garden to attract wildlife, you just need to think about what birds need and plan – and plant – accordingly.

Best trees for birds

Holly  – A holly tree provides great shelter during nesting season. Add to that the berries they produce during winter and you’ve got a tree that birds adore.

Fruit trees  – As well as attracting birds, fruit trees are great for insects and bees. They will pull in pollinators from far and wide which makes for a healthy, happy garden with plenty of fruit and flowers. If you’re short on space, you can buy dwarf trees and plant them in pots.

Amelanchier – Trees are great for providing shelter and protection for birds. Even if you have a small garden, do make room for one tree.  Amelanchier is a great choice. Birds love the little fruits it bears and it has gorgeous colour come autumn which you can admire.

It’s not just trees that attract birds, there are various shrubs that fulfil their needs too.

Sambucus – Elder As well as the birds loving this shrub, so do we! It’s a very easy going plant as it will flower year after year and is happy anywhere in the garden. It has very tasty shiny fruits in late summer, and insects love the spring blossom, which in turn attracts birds to feed on those insects.

Lavender – Lavender is one of those must-have garden plants that looks great planted on its own or with other plants. It’s a multitasker, providing cover for some birds and seeds for others!

Cotoneaster – Its not fancy but this shrub provides food and shelter – from it’s berries and it’s twiggy growth.

Barberry – Berberis Another shrub providing a combination of food and shelter. It’s not quite as ‘pretty’ as other shrubs but it’s attractive to birds nonetheless.

 Wisteria – Wisteria is definitely a looker! But its what underneath that counts and this is a cracking climber. With its woody growth and large leaves, it’s a fantastic shelter for all sorts of birds. Perfect for nesting, it also is a haven for insects, which keeps the birds fed and happy.

Ivy  – A familiar climber, the flowers of ivy attract insects and the birds that feed on them.  Its foliage provides cover for nests while the black berries are sustenance during winter

Sunflower – Once in flower, a very popular plant for birds and insects alike. Insects adore the pollen it produces and birds the seeds.

Ice Plant – Sedum – A classic addition to the late summer border, the Ice Plant is also a winner when it comes to bird life too. There are lots of varieties to choose from but go for a species rather than a hybrid if possible, such as sedum spectabile forms like ‘Autumn Joy’, as these will produce seeds which some birds like finches are drawn to. But it’s leaving the stems through the autumn that is crucial, providing a habitat for insects and foraging birds late in the season.

Ornamental grasses – Grasses with ornamental flower heads and foliage provide a fantastic food source for birds. In autumn and winter it has lots of tasty seeds and its stems make for excellent cover. By spring its stems and foliage have died off but are ideal for building nests.

Lawn flowers – Gone are the days of a perfectly mowed lawn! If you can manage, give the grass a cut every few weeks. Clovers, dandelions and daisies will appear and it will be heaven for insects thereby attracting the birds.

Thistles – Thistles can get a bit of a bad rep but birds love their seeds. Eryngium is a particular favourite here at The Green Room as it comes in a range of sizes so can fit into the smallest of spaces.

If you need any help choosing plants to attract birds to your outdoor space, get in touch, we’d love to help.

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Creating a pollinator friendly garden

Creating a pollinator-friendly garden involves providing a diverse range of plants, habitats, and resources that attract and support pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hoverflies. Here are some tips to make your garden more pollinator-friendly:

Plant a Variety of Flowers – Choose a variety of flowers with different shapes, colours, and bloom times to attract a diverse range of pollinators. Native plants are often well-adapted to local pollinators, so include some in your garden.

Include Pollinator-Friendly Trees and Shrubs – Trees and shrubs such as fruit trees, hawthorn, and hazel can provide additional food sources and nesting sites for pollinators.

Provide a Water Source – Set up a shallow dish with water, stones, or floating vegetation to provide a water source for pollinators.

Create Nesting Sites – Leave some areas of the garden undisturbed to provide nesting sites for bees and other ground-nesting insects.  You can also install bee hotels or nest boxes for solitary bees.

Avoid Pesticides – Minimise your use of pesticides, especially those containing neonicotinoids, which can be harmful to pollinators.

Plant Herbs – Herbs like lavender, thyme, and mint are not only aromatic but also attract pollinators.

Encourage Wildflowers – If you have the space let some areas of your garden to grow wild with native wildflowers, which can be particularly attractive to pollinators.

Get the timing right – Plant flowers that bloom at different times of the year to provide a continuous food source for pollinators.

Consider Vertical Gardening – Vertical gardening is proving ever more popular. Utilise vertical space by growing climbing plants and installing hanging baskets to maximize flower coverage.

Provide Sun and Shelter – Many pollinators, especially butterflies, benefit from sunny spots for basking and sheltered areas to escape from strong winds. (and lets be honest – Scotland has a lot of strong winds!)

Mulch Wisely – Use organic mulch to retain soil moisture and suppress weeds, but avoid excessive mulching in areas where ground-nesting bees may need access to the soil.

Even by adopting a few of these tips, you can create a welcoming environment for pollinators and contribute to their conservation.  Alongside this, a pollinator-friendly garden enhances biodiversity and promotes a healthy ecosystem.