I constantly keep my eye on the latest research and test it out myself in the garden back at the nursery to make sure you get the very best advice on how to plant successfully.
1. Decide where you want to plant and remove any weeds growing in the area.
2. Water your plant well in its pot before planting. Letting it sit in a bucket of water until it is well soaked is very effective.
3. Dig a hole twice as deep and three times as wide as the root ball (this is the compost around the roots of the plant) in the pot and then loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole to improve the drainage. Don't skimp on this stage as it is crucial to your plant's quick establishment in the garden and its ongoing success over the years.
Five Star Treatment
Sometimes you can be made to feel that gardening is really complicated and hard work. Knowing what conditions your plant likes will save you time, money and heartache.
Most people know that rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias belong to the group of plants called ericaceous plants along with heathers, pieris and magnolias but what does that really mean? A lot of people see it as “lime hating” but it's not really quite like that. It means that they are unable to use certain essential foods in the soil if the pH (a measure of how acid or alkaline a soil is) goes higher than 7. They will grow steadily more sickly and weak.
So how do you know what pH your soil is? You can buy a simple soil testing kit from your local garden centre. Follow the instructions carefully and always test the soil where you are intending to plant as it the soil can vary around the garden. If you can't find a soil test kit a simple test is to look for hydrangea plants in gardens near you and see what colour they are. Blue hydrangeas indicate an acid soil and pink or purple ones an alkaline soil. White hydrangeas don't change colour except in the very centre of each flower, if you look really carefully you will see the centre is either pink or blue. The best time to look for his is when the flowers first open as flowers later in the season can take on other tints due to the flower ageing.
Get Winter Ready!
We know you love your Rhododendrons, Camellias and Azaleas but are they ready for the winter weather?
Pots and Containers
Plants in pots and containers are more vulnerable to problems than those planted in the ground. We all worry a lot about the cold temperatures and, although these can be an issue if they get too extreme, actually it is the wet weather that can do the most damage. This is because the plants rate of transpiration (breathing through the leaves) slows in colder weather and so the plant is unable to lose excess water gathering at the roots. The other danger to your plants is cold winds.
How to Plant in a Pot
The great news about Rhododendrons, Camellias and Azaleas is that they are so adaptable that they grow really well in pots and containers. Sometimes we grow them there because we have the wrong soil, sometimes just because we want colour in pots.
So how do you go about it?
First, look at the size of your plant and choose a pot where the measurement across the top is about 10-20cm smaller than the width of the plant branches. This stops the compost getting too wet in rainy weather.
Spring flowers are a real delight, especially after the dark days of winter. Bright crocus, deliciously scented winter honeysuckle, carpets of nodding hellebores and tiny fragrant sarcococca flowers all light up the garden but one flower that stands out amongst them all is the camellia. People will admire the majority of flowers and gardens on the go as they stroll past but stop and stare at exotic camellias in bloom.
Their show starts well before Christmas in September when conspicuous flower buds form and you watch them in expectation for five months. They gradually begin to swell. in late January and then flower from late February onwards.
As they flower early, the buds slowly open up revealing their flowers with a degree of succession as opposed to all at one moment. This can be a form of slow pain if you are desperate to see them or long lasting delight.
They will flower for at least a month, all be it with a bit of colour explosion towards the end as a grand finale, so you definitely get value for colour.
There are some lovely colours to choose from; whites, creams, pinks and reds in various styles of flower from single rows of petals, rather like a rose, to multiple rows of flower petals and peony shaped flowers.