Monday, 9 March 2015

What to do next?

For the first time this year I am venturing into the world of annuals and a few other frost tender plants.  I am getting round the issue of not having a greenhouse by using windowsills, as I know many of you do.  My trouble is that I only have a couple of windowsills that are suitable and being narrow can only take smaller pots.  I also have a few plugs waiting in the wings that really could do with that valuable window space.

I need some help with what to do next.

Ranunculus Cafe Caramel.  I could not resist the colour of those blooms.  How could I?  Those colours a just so sumptuous, don't you think?  Having researched a bit at time of purchase, I found that they are hardy down to minus 3 and since the conditions we were experiencing at the time was around the same - I decided not to put all my eggs in one basket, so to speak.  I put 4 tubers (soaked etc.) into a large pot to be kept in the cold frame and the remainder into small individual pots on the kitchen windowsill.  I am pleased that out of 10 tubers, 9 have sprouted.  For obvious reasons the ones in the cold frame are quite behind the others in the warmth of the kitchen.   This should, I suppose, in theory, extend the flowering season.

Cautious that the conditions in the ground may prove a little too damp, I feel they will fair better in containers.  I think the time is right to be potting the ones growing in individual pots into one large container.  I want them in a large container for better impact.  They appear to be getting rather leggy where they are at the moment. On tipping them out, I find that they all have a good root system in place.


        
When I pot them up into their final pot, am I able to put them directly into a cold greenhouse immediately or should they be conditioned first?  I have use of a neighbour's cold greenhouse for a few weeks, until she uses it herself for tomatoes.  Or could I simply pot them up and use a cloche to provide a bit of protection instead of having them under the cover of a greenhouse?  Maybe there is another option that I haven't thought of?

pot grown Agapanthus
I am hoping that I can chance my mitt and throw in a second cheeky wee question out to you all.  My Agapanthus are pot grown and are currently in the aforementioned cold greenhouse and I have given them all a good water to bring them out of dormancy, just as I have done in previous years.  I keep them in there until the risk of frost has passed.  In previous years I have waited until they are outdoors before feeding but feel they may benefit from getting fed before hand.  Does anyone else grow their Agapanthus in pots and if so, when do you introduce a feed?

Naturally, I am extremely grateful for any help or advice you'd like to through my way.  I know that many of you have given me your advice freely in the past and I hope some kindly soul will point me in the right direction this time too.

Do you have a garden related question?  If so, you might like to pop over to Sprig to Twig.  Ricki is running a series of posts where we can throw our queries out into the blogosphere in the hope that someone out there has that elusive answer to our question.  After all, a question is only easy if we know the answer!

29 comments:

  1. Those caramel ranunculas are yummy as can be. I bought some flowering orange ones a month ago to use in lieu of cut flowers for a table setting. The blooms lasted a long time. When I cut them once they had faded, I noticed that there were tiny buds forming so I stuck them outdoors as the foliage was well past display quality. Too soon to tell for sure, but they seem to be growing on nicely out there. Our weather has been unseasonably warm for zone 7. Days in the upper 60's and nights a bit above freezing. I don't know if any of this is helpful, but thanks for joining in. I hope you get some more definitive answers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do hope yours make a reappearance this year Ricki, thus far it all sounds positive.

      Delete
  2. Hi Angie,

    I can't help with either of your questions, just that those Ranunculus do look rather amazing. I love their rustic, antique sort of colour. I'd personally probably condition them first by having them outdoors during the day or if you know there's some mild weather coming, keeping them out at night. But then I give my plants tough-love.
    They might even survive to next year if they're in pots in a shielded spot. I've had most of my dwarf dahlias survive winter in pots near the house - I even bought loads more tubers assuming I'd need to replace them - looks like I'll have lots of Dahlias this year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The colour caught my eye Liz, hence the purchase. I think I will have to work something out re hardening them off - I've enough I suppose to try different methods. Watch this space.
      I have also read about over wintering them. I'd guess probably my best chance would be to dry them out later in the year and store. Nice that you've had success with Dahlias.

      Delete
  3. I have grown Ranunculas in pots in the cold greenhouse a few years ago with good result. I have lots of Agapanthus in pots. I have put them outside last week, they got long white shoots. When there is only groundfrost it's no problem and what about feeding, well tomorrow. I was in the garden this afternoon and thought I have to feed the Agapanthus and then forgot.
    Wish you happy gardening!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comments Janneke - with hindsight, it probably would have been wiser to bring all the Ranunculas on in the cold frame, then I wouldn't have been having this issue now. I hope you remember to feed your Agapanthus sooner rather than later :)

      Delete
  4. I have the problem of a lack of greenhouse, so I rely heavily on a cold frame, window sills and sheltered corners. I also use those horrid plastic crates with fold over lids.They are supposed to be for storage, but they make useful portable cold frames for plants requiring a little protection. I have been known to lag them with bubblewrap during cold winters.

    I grow Agapanthus in pots, but leave them outside in a sheltered corner over winter. I haven't fed them yet as nurseries are still dispatching them bare root and I think if anything is that dormant, it can't be time to feed them. I wait until they are actively growing, which will be pretty soon if this glorious weather keeps up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know Sarah, I was looking at some plastic crates that live under the bed and considered using them. Great tip, I think I may make use for them next year.
      Thanks for advice re Agapanthus, much appreciated. I will wait until they are growing before I feed.

      Delete
  5. I haven't seen Ranunculus that colour, they are amazing, as for the Agapanthus, mine are all in pots in the cold greenhouse. I have been watering them lately to wake them up and usually feed them once with pelleted chicken manure and a top dress of fresh compost when they come out the greenhouse in spring, whenever that may be, weather dependant.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll follow suit and sort out the Agapanthus later, hopefully the weather will be good to us.

      Delete
  6. Reading your post, I realize how difficult it is to give advice (or opinion) when we garden is such different climates! It is interesting to see how plants behave very differently.
    Ranunculus Cafe Caramel sounds quite special.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Alain, it would be difficult for those of you that garden in different climates to help with issues such as the ones on today's post. I also agree that it's interesting to see how plants do elsewhere.

      Delete
  7. I wish I could offer help but, as Alain said, our climates are too different. We plant Ranunculus directly in the ground here and Agapanthus stay outside all year. I've never fed the latter, although they do benefit from periodic dividing. Best wishes with your experiments!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kris, the Ranunculus can go directly in the ground here too, providing the conditions are right but mine, well - they'd rot in situ. I don't think folks that grow their Agapanthus outdoors here feed much either. Again, the drainage here is the issue.

      Delete
  8. Your ranunculus are looking great, Angie! I hope to start some myself next fall, but like Kris says, they'll stay in the ground year-round here (if they survive the summer!) While I lived in a colder climate, I had the same problem with starting plants while lacking a greenhouse or even a cold frame. I did find that a work light fitted with flourescent tubes - one cool white and one warm white for best results - yielded very good results. In fact, I kept it in my bedroom where it gave me a lift just to have the extra light through the winter! The idea is that the cool white/warm white flourescent lights give the closest simulation of sunlight. (This from an excellent book possibly no longer in print, The Miracle Houseplants, by Virginie F. and George A. Elbert. It's written from an American perspective and is primarily about growing the Gesneriads, but it is a very informative source for indoor growing.) At any rate a lamp gives considerably more growing space than windowsills. I'll be interested to know how it all works out for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the recommendation for the book, I tend to ignore all things houseplants but if I can glean from the advice, it might be a useful read for me.
      I think the lighting idea is great, I could always rig something up in the bedroom if I needed too. Would be an excellent option if I were to progress to doing seeds.

      Delete
    2. I always stayed away from houseplants too though that book did get me interested enough for a (relatively successful) African violet spree. I'm sure you can also get plenty of information on starting plants under lights via the web. One of the critical elements for me was understanding that the tops of the plants need to be fairly close to the light source: about 15 cm if I remember rightly though I wouldn't trust my memory on that...!

      Delete
    3. Makes perfect sense re light Amy. Thanks for coming back on this. You are right there will be plenty info available on the www.

      Delete
  9. For hardy plants I sow in a cold greenhouse and them harden off in a old frame before planting out.

    For half hardy plants they are raised indoors in a spare room under a grow light - we have a couple of grow gardens to use indoors but you could rig something up - before being moved to the cold greenhouse - if very cold conditions are threatened I throw some fleece over,

    If you ranunculus are hardy to-3 I would think that the kitchen is too warm for them and could bring them on and make them too tender, Also even in a windowsill light isn't as good as outdoors or in a greenhouse.

    I bought an agapanthus in a pot last year which overwintered in the greenhouse but I have no idea about feeding,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's some great advice Sue. For obvious reasons I can't undo what's already been done but will keep it all in mind next year. I will probably have to extend the conditioning a bit longer if I have pampered them too much!

      Delete
  10. I love the colour of the Ranunculus. I am trying it for the first time this year. I found a deep purple one called Purple Hearts. I am growing them in the cold greenhouse so I don' t know what to suggest about the kitchen windowsill.
    I have Agapanthus in pots too but I don' t feed them until they are growing well and I can get them out of the greenhouse when it gets warmer. I don' t suppose it is an exact science though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I saw a purple one but don't recall it's name. I contemplated trying both but didn't want to walk before I could run!
      The consensus of opinion re feeding the Agapanthus are to wait til they are growing and that's taken on board. Much appreciated Chloris.

      Delete
  11. My only experience of Ranunculus was last year when bought a bag of corms quite cheaply from the supermarket. I put them in the ground, but I was really disappointed as they didn't flower at all. I had written them off when the leaves died and had forgotten them until the other day I noticed a few leaves sprouting from the ground. Maybe they will do better this year - if not they are out! Yours look lovely colours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I read that given good drainage they should survive Annette. I also read that they do die back in summer, fingers crossed you'll have some blooms this year. I love the colour of these and like everything else wonder just how precise it will be. Time will tell!

      Delete
  12. Not much help here either as I don't grow these...but I do grow annuals starting them indoors. Then when it is time to plant them out, I condition them for a half hour the first day and then I add 20 minutes each day after in sun and light breeze....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Increasing the time out makes perfect sense too Donna. It's amazing how many tips I'm picking up.

      Delete
  13. I'm afraid I can't offer any advice either. I always go the easy way with purchased annuals, though it is expensive. Looks like you are off to a good start with your buttercups.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Between you and I Jason, I'm way too lazy to go down the seed route, not forgetting impatient too.

      Delete
  14. I'm starting to use more pots for over-wintering and early starts for outdoor displays. I haven't tried to grow the two you mention in my current garden, but pots seem like a good way to go--especially for giving them an early start. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete

Your comments are appreciated. My blog is currently experiencing issues with some readers reporting problems when posting their comments. Please bear with me whilst I try to rectify the problem.
I have temporarily switched on word verification. I apologise for this, personally, I don't like it either, I am hoping this may help.