Weather Watching

Karen’s beautiful garden in the glorious (if a little temperamental sunshine).

Weather plays an important role in the success of growing cut flowers and since ours can be changeable, it is important to keep an eye on the forecast and be ready to adapt your plans. At the moment I’m on the cusp of starting to plant up my cut flower bed and very tempted to just get on and do it but be aware, evenings can still be on the chilly side and with our recent weather forecast predicting a dip back into single figures, it is still a risk.

What can you be getting on with?

If you’ve started to grow flowers from seed indoors, you should have started to harden them off in preparation for planting outside. Hardening off means gradually acclimatising them as they move from the inside to the outside. If you have a cold frame (a mini greenhouse built low to the ground) then use this or if you don’t (like me), just leave them undercover somewhere. I worked on a 2-3 week period, starting by (i) moving them outside, covering with fleece, then (ii) removing the fleece during the day and bringing them inside, to (iii) leaving them outside during the day and overnight but covered with fleece and finally (iv) removing the fleece totally.

I’ve also planted my Summer bulbs. I’m keeping things simple, with it being my first year and have gone with just gladioli and freesias. I’m planting the gladiolus in my garden as they are tall flowers that need a sunny and sheltered spot and I think my raised beds will be too windy (waiting for my hedge to grow). The great thing about these flowers is that they are not fussy about soil type so if you have sunshine and a sheltered spot then you should be able to grow them. Do remember if you want to have them growing throughout the Summer then space them out on planting. Plant the first batch and the second three weeks later and so on to have them all through the Summer months. I’ve put the freesias into a couple of tubs. They are happy there as long as the soil is good quality and isn’t waterlogged. Remember, you don’t need to have huge areas to grow cut flowers and many are happy in pots.

Dahlias and seedlings in the perfect sunny, sheltered spot.

It’s so important to know what type of plant you are growing, I talk about this in my previous blog ‘Know your plants’. This will help you understand when you are able to plant up your flowers. Also, be aware that some plants are more susceptible to frosts than others. Annuals, for example, are additionally given the term ‘half-hardy’ annuals and ‘hardy’ annuals. ‘Half-hardy’ annuals are very tender and will not survive a frost whereas hardy annuals can tolerate lower temperatures, including frosts. This may impact when you plant some of your flowers up but the general rule I follow is that hardy plants can be planted in the Spring (late) whereas half-hardy plants the Summer. I’ll talk you through the ‘how’ as and when I do it but for the time being here is a list of what I’m planting and when:

  • Dahlias (bulb) – Planting in the third to fourth week in May when there is no risk of frost. Remember to keep an eye on the weather. If you have planted them and there is a frost, make sure you protect with a fleece.
  • Salvias Perennials – I’ve just planted these. I’ve gone for a hardy variety but would still cover a newly planted one with fleece if the weather turns cooler
  • Carnations – I’ve also planted these already as they are hardy and happy as long as there is not a frost.
  • Cosmos – These are half-hardy annuals so I’ll be waiting until the end of May when I know the soil has well and truly warmed up.
  • Dill and Ammi Majus – A hardy annual, will sow just a little before the cosmos, most probably third week in May.
  • Dahlias – Third to the fourth week in May
  • Euphorbia and Verbena (Hardy Perennial) – Will pop in the third to the fourth week in May.
Millie carefully guarding the tiny precious seedlings

What about if you are growing from seed?

As long as the soil is warm and moist, you can sow seed. I was going to do this, this week but as we are due a cool spell I’m going to wait until next week. If you are growing from seed then again take a look to see whether they are hardy or half-hardy. 

My next blog will be on, you’ve guessed it, growing flowers from seed!

Flowers and Lifestyle by Margot – Find out more about me –

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