WHAT PLANT IS THAT?
is the response plants make in response to physical stimuli.
Plants exposed to wind and rain are sturdier than those coddled inside away from drafts. Stroking your seedlings will replicate the effect of a windy day and produce the same effect. Preparing seedlings for the harsh reality of life outdoors is called hardening-off.
Spring weather is very changeable – balmy and still one day and freezing rain and wind the next. Seedlings need to be tough enough to cope so their growth isn’t halted.
Shift punnets to a sheltered spot outside so the plants are exposed to sunlight and air movement. Start with just a few hours each day, then pop them back under cover.
Gradually increase the daily exposure until they’re ready for transplanting. Keep inside if there’s an especially cold or stormy period.
Even after hardening-off, newly planted seedlings still need protection – perhaps a cloche in stormy weather or shade in particularly hot or windy conditions.
Be just as careful with seedlings from the garden centre too. They’ve been grown in perfect nursery conditions and may not be ready to fend for themselves. growing strongly with several sets of new leaves it’s time to transfer them to individual containers. Lift and separate the cuttings and plant into a clean pot with fresh potting mix.
I find a standard plastic plant label is just the right size for transplanting which is handy because it’s ideal to label the pots as you go. It’s very exciting when cuttings throw out long stems and rush into bloom.
But harden your heart and nip them back hard. Cut stems at a node so two new stems will grow and the plant will grow sturdy and compact. Nip off the first flowers too. You want the plant’s energy and resources to go towards a strong root system and bushy structure rather than flower and seed production.
You’ll notice that labels are absent in the picture above. I labelled only one of each type of two salvias and three pelargoniums intending to keep each sort separate. Silly me!
The move from windowsill to outdoors mixed them up. I let them flower to sort them out but they’ve had the chop now. The garden trail season is here again. For plantaholics the only thing better than pottering in your own patch is appreciating the efforts of the generous gardeners who open their gardens to visitors.
Among inspiring vistas, in burgeoning beds you are bound to see an unknown plant that you desperately want to identify.
Now, as I’m sure you know, the cardinal sin for garden visitors is to pick that unknown bloom to take to the garden owner to ask the name. It’s recommended that you take the gardener to the plant instead.
But often the gardener is not to be found or busy with other guests. The solution could be found in your pocket or handbag.
Whip out your phone and use a plant identification app like PlantSnap or PictureThis. They work by matching your photo to a database so you’ll get best results with a good-quality image. Take a close-up with a flower or leaf in the centre of the frame. It needs to be clear and in focus. Avoid having several different plants in the same picture.
You’ll be offered several choices, with the most likely identification first. There are links to more information about the plants and you can save a collection of IDs for reference.
The apps are not infallible and you do need to use your judgement about the accuracy of the plant names.