Planning for Winter

Summer is now almost over and gardeners are beginning to plan for winter planting in borders and containers. You can’t go wrong with the familiar plants like winter pansies, viola, primula, polyanthus, to name but a few, and pretty soon garden centres will be full of bulbs and there are many available in the catalogues that keep appearing through the post.

If you want to raise your own plants next year, late August/early September is the time for gathering seed. Home – grown plants will cost you nothing and seed sown fresh usually germinates more readily than long – stored options..

Early summer varieties will have already shed seed but many more will mature over the coming weeks. Be ready to collect seed when pods and capsules are dry or on the point of splitting. Gather seed in large envelopes ( not plastic bags) and keep them open in a dry place, to enable dehydration to continue. They will be ready for cleaning and packaging when they are completely dry.

Hippeastrum, more familiar to us as Amaryllis. If you have been watering and feeding these plants they should be carrying plenty of long leaves, but now they need rest. Stop watering and allow the leaves to completely wither. Remove the dead ones only when they have dried and don’t water until early to mid October. Re-pot only if the plant has become badly root-bound. Begin watering in autumn, sparingly until the first buds appear, then water more freely. Feed regularly with high nitrogen plant food when the first buds have appeared and continue until next summer.