September at The Reigate Garden Centre Plant Department
Plant of the Month
Daffodil is the common English name used for genus Narcissus, which is divided into 13 different sub-sections based mainly on flower form, but also partly on genetic background. It is thought that the name is derived from the Greek word ‘narcoa’ meaning to grow numb in a reference to the plants narcotic properties. The English name comes from ‘Affodil’ a variant on Asphodelus (another genus of plants) with the D thought to be added by the Dutch as in De Affodil. The Daffodil is the national flower of Wales and one species N.obvallaris, grows only in a small area around Tenby. The Welsh name for Daffodil is ‘Cennin Pedr’ or Peter’s Leek’.
Daffodils have long been considered one of the heralds of spring and bring with them that hint of optimism, the start of something new, but for the best effect they should be planted as early as possible in the autumn as they will produce masses of root before the onset of winter. They should be planted in a warm, sunny site which is well drained. Daffodils can be used around the garden in variety of ways:
Aim to plant in groups of at least 6 and plant so that the base of the bulb is three times the depth of the bulb itself i.e. a 2 inch bulb should be planted 6 inches deep and space them twice the width of the bulb apart.
Naturalizing in grassland: Where bulbs are to be planted to provide a natural appearance over a long period of time, it is better to use smaller bulbs and throw them randomly over the area and plant them where they land (check that the bulbs are not to close together as over-crowding will prevent flowering). It is also important that the area of grassland can be left without mowing until the bulb’s foliage has died down in spring for at least six weeks after flowering.
As Daffodils need to be planted in the autumn and left until the foliage has died down; they are best planted along with other bulbs that flower at different times to give succession of flowering over a longer period of time for maximum effect and value. This can be done by a method called lasagna planting or layering.
In Your Garden
The cross over from the glories of summer to the magic of autumn has begun! There are plenty of flowering ornamental plants and later summer flowering plants such as asters, Sedum and Japanese anemones to keep your garden looking magnificent. Plus now’s the time you reap the benefit of the care that you have lavished on your fruit trees. There is still plenty to enjoy in the autumn garden!
Summer lingers on
• Did you enjoy your flowering hydrangeas this summer? Well it doesn’t have to stop there!
• Enjoy them for longer by cutting off some flowering stems and drying them.
• Place them in a vase on a shallow layer of water which is not topped up.
• The flowers will then dry naturally to create a lovely decoration that can make the summer linger on a little longer.
Decorative seed pods
Keep attractive seed pods from some perennials after flowering such as Iris sibirica, I. foetidissima and Papaver oriëntale in order to enjoy in the winter.
Give grape bunches sun
• Ensure that the bunches of grapes get enough sun to ripen.
• Remove some foliage from above them.
• Prune long tendrils back to a couple of ‘buds’. But stay at least ten centimetres away from bunches of grapes, since pruned stems can easily dry out that far back.
Plant perennials now
If you plant perennials now (pot-grown perennials can be planted all year round) you need to know how they are going to develop in order to plant them the right distance apart. Soil, position, moisture and sun all have a big impact. A rule of thumb: Plant low perennials approx 20 to 25 centimetres apart. (Approx 11 plants per square metre is often used for that group). Plant medium-sized plants approx 35 to 40 cm apart For tall varieties it mainly depends on the habit. If they extend widely or produce a lot of overhanging foliage, then its best to give them at least a square metre each.
After around three to four years perennials need to be dug up and divided in order to remain youthful and continue to flower profusely. With varieties which flower very early in the year and are starting to show signs of ageing, this is a good month to do this. Then they will have plenty of time to recover before the flowering period.
September is an excellent month for planting conifers. They can then establish good roots before winter and will not suffer any problems with their ‘breathing’ and water supply. The same applies to other evergreen varieties which are supplied with a rootball.
Scale leaf conifers like Thuja, Chamaecyparis, × Cupressocyparis leylandii generally give fewer problems than needle conifers (Picea, Pinus, Abies), which sometimes have an anchored tap root which makes them harder to replant. (You don’t need to worry about this if you are buying new plants from a nursery as the grower will ensure a compact rootball).
If you want to replant a tree, a good rule of thumb is that the diameter of the rootball must be ten times the diameter of the trunk.
• Peonies only start to flower profusely when they have spent three to four years in the same spot.
• If they have access to sufficient nutrition, they will then flower lavishly there for many years, but there will come a time when the flowering diminishes.
• The plants should then be dug up in September.
• Divide the roots and use only the outside parts with multiple buds (shoots) for replanting. Plant in nutrient-rich, slightly moist soil and in a sunny spot.
• Plant the parts so that they are just a few centimetres below the surface of the soil.
Do not feed your plants any more now. They need to prepare for winter.
• Give the plants lime-rich/nitrogen-poor fertiliser one more time this month.
• Give the plants less water two weeks before they go to their winter location.
• Then prune vigorously.
• Leave some twenty centimetres on the branches and also remove all the foliage.
• They can then go to their winter location (a cool room where the temperature needs to be approx 5 °C).
• Foliage will form again in the light.
• Water as required and check regularly for pests and diseases.