By William Mills
In our city’s parks and open spaces yellow flowering daffodils are in abundance replacing February’s delicate white snowdrops now already past.
Indoors the heady scent of Jasmine heralds the arrival of spring. These wonderful plants with their pink and white buds nestling under a mantle of dark green foliage make superb Easter presents.
Pictured here is Cyclamen. These semi-tropical plants have slender stems crowned with colourful flowers. They prefer a temperature range not above 20 C nor below 5 C, and need to be carefully watered. It’s best to use filtered water with just a touch of fertiliser. Its flowering season spans two months after which it enters a dormant period when watering should stop and the plant left in the shade. As soon as new growth appears water again.
In Spring supermarkets start stocking their garden range. Look carefully at any leaves for frost damage indicating the plant was delivered in a refrigerated lorry and may already be past recovery.
Repotting becomes necessary when a plant’s roots are too big for its existing pot. In extreme cases it can actually split it apart, but roots growing out of the base is the usual sign that a bigger pot is needed.
Once new growth has started repotting might cause a nasty setback therefore it should only be attempted if the plant is still in its dormant winter stage.
Carefully lift the plant from its old pot and gently breakaway the bottom third of the soil. Replace with either an potting compost appropriate for that particular plant or use a general purpose one, usually available from most hardware stores, florists and garden centres.
The new pot should be large enough to contain the plant’s root ball and a gap of a finger’s width for the new soil all the way around. Fill this with the compost and finish by gently watering it.
Last month we considered the practicalities of growing indoor plants using artificial lights. As a test one citrus plant has been situated under a 250w CFL bulb and another placed in an upstairs bay window giving it natural winter sunshine. Next month we will look to see if any differences have occurred, and explore the effects of adding fertilisers.