do I get Fritillarias to reflower?
I have lots of grass like foliage, but no flowers after the first year.
are a number of factors to take into account when cultivating bulbs in
pots. Flowers are formed in the bulb during the previous years
growth primarily in the period after flowering & before the leaves die
down. For the flower formation to be successful the bulb requires
sufficient nourishment & for pot cultivation it is strongly recommended
that the bulbs are fed with a liquid fertiliser at this time.
Maxicrop fertiliser based on seaweed extract (2
capfuls in 2 gallons of water.) after the crocus+ cyclamen speaker
recommended it. In fact some growers 'do not water bulbs but only feed
there are other requirements depending on the species. Some like a cold
winter to flower well, you may not achieve this in our recent winters
especially if you keep them in the greenhouse. There is even talk of
placing your pot of bulbs in a fridge for a few weeks in winter. Most bulbs
will need need a dryish dormant period to ripen the bulbs - how dry you
may ask? Most Mediterranean & Western USA bulbs appreciate a dryish summer as provided by an alpine house, bulb
frame or dutch lights. - Tony Hale
I grow cushion plants? They tend to die off in the middle, or grow
could be that the roots at the centre of the pot are not getting sufficient
water. In the growing season try dunking the pot up to 2/3 its height in
water in a bucket for 5 mins, especially at the
bud formation time & just prior to flowering. It may be strong sunlight
in the case of saxifrages - you will need to adequately shade & water
them. Uneven growth may be caused by inadequate watering or reduced light
on one side of the pot - try rotating the pot on a regular basis. - Tony
recommend the material you consider to be most useful on growing alpines.
is difficult to recommend just one reference I recommend the following pair
as most useful.
Alpines' by Royton Heath, out of print but second hand copies are available to buy
& we have a copy in our library.- excellent for plants in pots but well
out of date on insecticides & fungicides
Smaller Bulbs' by Brian Mathew. My favourite book on dwarf bulbs.
more specialised references I use include
by Kit Grey-Wilson,
'The Propogation of Alpine Plants & Dwarf Bulbs' by
& insecticides seem to be always changing. Please advise what you
recommend for fungal & pest control especially for Lily Beetle &
red spider mite.
& fungicides seem now to be limited to a few such as Derris liquid or
dust, Roseclear, Bugclear,
Bio Provado Ultimate Bugkiller,
Provado Vine Weevil killer, Dithane
& Nippon Ant killer.
will kill spider mite but ensure that your Alpine House is kept cool by
adequate ventilation, shading & watering
otherwise red spider mite will thrive in a hot dry atmosphere.
Bio Provado Ultimate Bug Killer in its concentrate form
(not in aerosol or trigger spray forms) is effective against Lily Beetle
& Red Spider Mite.as well as mealy bug, scale
insects, greenfly, blackfly, wooly
aphid, whitefly & thrips. Try entering the
name of the pest into an internet search engine such as Google & you
should find the information you are looking for. - Tony Hale
you recommend fertilising (feeding) alpines in the greenhouse? If so with
what fertiliser & how frequently.
The topic of feeding bulbs and top dressing cyclamen have
been covered already. Other alpines might benefit from a liquid feed at bud
formation time & flowering time particularly if the plant has not been
annually repotted. Phostrogen,
Tomorite or Maxicrop
would all be suitable at half strength. You could also use slow release
fertiliser in the compost such as Osmocote.
do I grow cyclamen from seedlings? When do they need pricking out? What
compost to use? What feeds to apply?
try to sow fresh seed ie as soon as harvested
from the plant to give best germination rates. If seed is sown later ie around the turn of the year or in spring, soak the
seed before sowing for 24 hours in water with a little washing up liquid
added. Leave the seedlings in the pot for 2 years & try to maintain
continual growth during that time by keeping them moist & occasional
feeding with half strength liquid feed. For seed compost, I use a 50% sand
or grit compost ie 2 JI #2, 1 peat, 2 sharp sand,
1 grit, 1 vermiculite. For potting, I use a 25% sand/grit compost eg 2 JI#2, 1 peat, 1 sharp sand + osmocote
slow release fertiliser.
dislike root disturbance so avoid repotting every
year and instead topdress with a mixture of fresh
compost & a little organic fertiliser added such as bonemeal.
watering - I have tried both watering methods & I found that the
cyclamen flowered better when the pots were stood in a tray of water 2 ins
deep but beware you don't leave them in too long- just long enough for the
compost to get moist otherwise the compost will stagnate.
feeding - I've covered cyclamen feeding above by top dressing, additional
liquid feeding should not be necessary. - Tony Hale
recommend half a dozen easy alpines for showing.
concentrated on those alpines that would be useful plants at the time of
our show for 8 different classes.
'Cumulus' (white), Coolock Kate (reddish pink),
Alan Martin (yellow)
Primula allionii - 'Clarence Elliot' or
'Anna Griffiths' or 'Mary Berry'
- Fritillaria acmopetala
or Fritillaria pontica;
Sempervivum sp & many cultivars
spathufolium either purpureum
or Cappa Blanca;
conifer - Cryptomeria japonica 'Vilmoriana'
foliage - Helichrysum sibthorpii
or Helichrysum. orientale
plant - Draba longisiliqua
or Gypsophilia aretioides
we still be plunging our plants in sand in the greenhouse? Or is placing
them on capillary matting the best method?
your plants are grown in clay pots, they must be plunged to avoid drying
out problems. If they are grown in plastic pots, placing them on damp
capillary matting is probably better than on sand which dries out more
quickly at the surface. - Tony Hale
use the internet for information on growing & buying alpines? If so
which sites do you recommend
don't use any specific sites except the Plant finder service on the RHS
site (www.rhs.org.uk) which identifies where you can buy specific plants
with full nursery contact details. You can then browse individual nursery
websites at leisure & enter them into your favourites list if you wish.
- Tony Hale
using topic specific searches (such as the RHS) remember to set the
search engine to 'UK Only'. Always avoid Wikipedia, as anyone can
alter the information, which makes it unreliable. When looking for
information on specific plants, look for several sources and compare the
information; remember, what works for someone may
not necessarily work for you. - Robert Amos