Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS -

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.

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