The winter months may seem like the end of the growing season, but for those with a Glasshouse or Greenhouse, the growing bounties of your garden can continue. This is one of the most exciting things about Greenhouse ownership – that you are not limited or dictated to by the changing seasons. You will be surprised and delighted by what you can grow, not to mention being able to potter in your garden when its miserable outside.
Luxury Glasshouse manufacturer Hartley Botanic, gives an insight into the beautiful, flowering plants that can be grown in a Greenhouse during January. From bulbs to orchids, there are a huge array of flowers that can be “forced” into bloom no matter how dreary the weather is outside. Insight has been taken from Hartley Botanic’s online magazine, which provides a wealth of knowledge and inspiration. Visit: https://hartley-botanic.co.uk/magazine/
Decide what to grow:
First, you need to decide what flowers you want to grow. Many favourites can be grown from bulbs, such as paperwhite narcissus. Other bulb options are tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, amaryllises, alliums, and crocuses. Simply look through a bulb catalogue and select the ones you like. When the bulbs arrive, put them in a refrigerator for six to eight weeks, after which they’ll be ready for planting.
Narcissus can be planted at two levels, in a bowl or pot, for mixed displays of blossom.
Bulbs grown in borders or growing-bags for cut flowers can be planted densely to maximise the crop. Forcing provides an excellent out-of season display, but exhausts the bulbs. They should be discarded after use.
Non-hardy bulbs or corms such as Hymenocallis, Veltheimia and moisture-loving Watsonia can all be safely grown in a Greenhouse during winter. Gladiolus, Tigridia and the more tender species of Agapanthus, can be grown on in warmth until early summer, and then planted outdoors a few weeks before they are due to flower.
Time your plantings about another six to eight weeks before you want the flowers. Wide, shallow containers work well for bulbs. By potting a dozen or so bulbs every two to three weeks, you can keep the flowers coming all winter long. After watering a set of newly-planted bulbs, put the container in a reasonably warm location. A south-facing window is fine during the day, but guard against the bulbs getting too cold at night because you want to trick them into thinking that spring has arrived.
While bulbs are very popular flowers to force in winter, there are many other excellent choices. Among these are orchids, such as those in the genus Phalaenopsis (moth orchid) and the genus Cymbidium (boat orchid). To get orchids to bloom in winter, you need to fertilize them in summer (you can use half-strength fertilizer twice a month) and keep the shredded-bark planting medium moist between feedings. In the autumn, as the days shorten, stop fertilizing but still keep the medium moist. Soon species of Cymbidium will send up flower spikes regardless of the amount of light they’re receiving. Try leaving them in your Greenhouse until the flowers begin to show, after which time you can take them indoors to enjoy the blooms for several weeks.
To get them to bloom during winter, most species of Phalaenopsis need attention to lighting as well. In the wild, these plants often grow about two-thirds of the way up a tree, where they’re slightly shaded by the canopy. Blooming typically occurs when changes in foliage give them extra light. In a Greenhouse Phalaenopsis are usually placed under a bench after they have flowered to give them an eight- to ten-week rest period. To get your Phalaenopsis orchids to bloom in winter, bring them out from under the bench and increase their light exposure to at least 16 watts, with 19 to 24 watts being the optimum to bring them into bloom. Be sure not to let the plants dry out while under the bench or under lights. Keep the planting medium slightly moist, just like the bark of a tree would stay moist in these orchids’ natural habitat. And if all else fails, buy some phals (phalenopsis) already in bloom, but be sure to keep them warm while moving them from the store to your car!
Preparing for winter growing – Light:
Don’t forget that it’s often low light, rather than the cold, which is the biggest hindrance to plant growth. Recently developed LED daylight lighting units are a tremendous benefit, the extra light is exactly what plants need during the darkest days. And the cost of buying and running these is much less than older units, making them even more valuable. (Plus, they will be more help in spring when their extra light produces much better seedlings.)
For more Greenhouse gardening help and advice, Hartley Botanic’s online magazine offers a wealth of information.
All Hartley Botanic’s Glasshouses and Greenhouses are handmade, bespoke and made to order. Customers interested in purchasing a Hartley Botanic Greenhouse should visit: http://www.hartley-botanic.co.uk or call 01457 819 155 for more information.