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Leading the way with Dianthus

British National Carnation Society

Border’s Update

The festivities are now behind us and I had hoped that the worst of the winter is behind us. The past few weeks has been more like spring with the bird’s singing at dawn, trees budding and spring flowers rapidly growing, then woe and behold in the last few days we have seen frosts up to -6.

It is now well into the month of January and the gales of the past few weeks have at last eased and I can at last get in the greenhouse and poly-tunnel to see how the plants are doing. The plants have not been watered since late November and I normally find at this time of the year with the start of the increase in light levels and temperature that they need a drop of water. I must stress that it is only a drop and only to those that I think need it, as a mild sunny day usually means a very cold night with a frost. So try and do any watering early in the morning.  I use a small watering can, lifting each pot to see if it needs a drop. Do not use a large watering can with a rose as there is no control on the amount given and you do not want to let the leaves become wet if possible. Try to remember that damp wet compost will deter root growth and can eventually kill the roots and even the plant. I also ventilate as much as possible when conditions allow by opening all vents, windows and doors, good air circulation is imperative for good growth but do not forget to close them if the weather conditions deteriorate and certainly by evening.

If the forecast is one of a good spell of weather then I will give the plants and all cuttings a spray of fungicide/pesticide, this the start of keeping the plants clean and healthy. This once again is done early in the morning which gives plenty of time for the leaves to dry before the evening. Never spray if there has been a frost, far better to wait for a spell of milder weather. One thing is vitally important if there is a prolonged cold spell, especially if the temperature falls below freezing. Although freezing temperatures will not harm the plant and indeed even when the compost in their pot’s become frozen but after a long spell of such freezing conditions the pots may become extremely dry at their roots. The problem may arise when they begin to thaw as very dry plants will suffer, so it is best to give such plants a watering to damp the compost right through.

I have noticed that one or two have started to elongate, that is the flowering stem has begun to spindle (remember Border Carnations are not stopped as Pinks and Perpetuals)I like to go around at this time of the year to clean up the plants by taking off any rotting leaves and cutting any dead ends off the leaves. Leaving them on will cause rot to set in. Be very careful removing any leaves, gently tug whilst holding the plant, if in any doubt that the leaf is still firmly attached and may cause problems by removing it then leave it until it can be easily removed.

You might also notice one or two of the growing tips of the young shoots failing to separate, this is nothing to worry about and is commonly known as “Curly Tip”  It is down to poor light levels and adverse weather conditions being present whilst the plant is starting to surge. The plants will grow out of it when the weather improves and more importantly when there are better light levels.

curly leaf2 leaf bad leaf

LEFT.

Curly Tip is not a disease, it is associated with poor light levels and the tips bind together. When conditions improve so will the return to normal growth. If you wish you may use a pencil to gently free the leaves.

BOTTOM LEFT.

Any damaged leaf may be trimmed or if old and rotten, then gently remove the leaf.

BOTTOM RIGHT.

Do NOT tug away, if the leaf will not come away easily then leave it till it will.

Pinks Update

The Pinks have over-wintered in the poly-tunnel with the Borders as they are totally frost hardy. The plants have not been watered since late November and I normally find at this time of the year with the start of the increase in light levels and temperature that they need a drop of water. I must stress that it is only a drop and only to those that I think need it, as a mild day usually means a very cold night with a frost. So try and do any watering early in the morning and I use a small 1litre watering can, lifting each pot to see if it needs a drop. Do not use a large watering can as there is no control on the amount given and you do not want to let the leaves become wet if possible. Try to remember that prolonged damp wet compost will deter root growth and can eventually kill the roots and the plant.

Some of the plants are starting to show growth at the base which is a sign that the centre stem is elongating, these need removing to encourage the flowering stems. It is a simple matter of bending the stem over and it should snap easily, do not pull or tug at the stem as this can damage the young plant. I find early morning is the best time to remove the centre stem as this is when the sap is rising.

If the forecast is one of a good spell of weather then I will give the plants and all cuttings a spray of fungicide/pesticide, this the start of keeping the plants clean and healthy. This once again is done early in the morning which gives plenty of time for the leaves to dry before the evening. Never spray if there has been a frost, far better to wait for a spell of milder weather.

Once again try and keep the watering to a minimum and only when needed.

Pinks stopped Pinks stopping Pinks stopping growth IMG_0385

The Pinks have over wintered in the poly-tunnel, as being frost hardy I have found they seem to like the cooler conditions better than the greenhouse. They are now starting to grow rapidly and I will need to keep an eye open for any pests, especially aphids which can soon become an infestation. Growth is appearing at the base which is the flowering stems. When this happens I normally remove the centre stem as it elongates and I do this by bending the stem over at right angles.Once the centre stem is removed the side shoots begin to form.