Easy-to-grow flowers add splash of colour

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There’s colour in the garden, well that is if you have snowdrops and winter aconites planted. Yes, the first signs that spring is actually on its way even though our current weather may not seem like it.

Already the drooping, green-tipped white heads of snowdrops (botanically galanthus) and the golden yellow flowers of the winter aconite (proper name Eranthis hyemalis) with their collar of small leaves, are providing welcome colour to the otherwise drab winter garden.

You can’t go wrong planting these two early flowers, they are so easy to grow and thrive among shrubs, the herbaceous border where there will be no growth above ground at the moment and, of course, the rockery. Plant both in drifts and clumps; the have no effect singly.

Keeping fuchsias over the winter is not that difficult. Other than the variety Riccartonii which is a 100 per cent guaranteed hardy type that will survive in the garden through any winter, in this area, unless in a very sheltered spot, all the others are best given the protection of a frost-free greenhouse, failing that in a brick-built garage, cellar or plunged in a trench in a cold greenhouse.

There will be more chance of losing them if they are allowed to get excessively dry at the roots, so watering, say once a month, should be sufficient to seen them through to the spring. Of course, if buried in a trench, watering is not needed.

However, at this time, the emphasis is all about caring for plants in the home, aiming to see them safely through the winter. When first purchased, pot plants usually have quite an open, loose compost which may dry out quickly in a warm room but givethe water reaquired over the winter months and repot into a good quality potting compost in the spring. This fresh compost will give feeding to sustain new growth.

There can be no hard and fast rule as to when, how often and how much water to give as it all depends on the temperature in the room, the compost and the type of plant. Generally, if the compost is dry on top, water it.

Other than plants in full bloom, in winter there is less chance of losing a house plant by underwatering, then there is giving too much and having the compost continually saturated.

One way to test if a plant requires watering is to lift it up and if it feels much lighter than normal, then it could take a ‘drink’.