Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Mystery Challenge

We had a great response to the Mystery Challenge at the meeting yesterday! There were many plants on show, some of which were really superb! Well done to everybody who participated and special congratulations to Felicity whose plant was voted "Best on Show", and Doug who won the "Best Novice" award.

Show fever is running high now - just 4 weeks to go!! Most members who are intending to show are starting to panic quietly! We have had good weather this year, and the plants have responded well, some of them a little too well! For those plants that look as if they will peak before show week, I suggest that you feed as aggressively as possible to keep them growing strongly and keep the new buds coming. - There is no way to retard bud development when once it has begun so rather try to spur it on to even greater levels!

It is worth making a note of which cultivars have come into bloom early as you can time their flowering more accurately next year! Also note those that don't bloom in time for the show for the same reason!!

I'm looking forward to seeing many beautiful plants on show!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Count Down to the Show!

My apologies once more - I am still not well and have been taking things very easy! I must say that I am delighted with the way the plants are growing - even though they have not had all the attention they might have liked. Long may it continue!

The show is looming as a reality in our lives now so I thought you might like to see my pinching schedule for the rest of the year. This only applies to mature plants that may be suitable for showing in December. The young plants continue to be pinched as needed until they are good big round plants, at which point they can be left to flower.

Pinching Schedule

22 August - 104 days to the show
Penultimate pinch large doubles

29 August - 97 days to the show
Last pinch for Triphylla types

5 September - 90 days to the show
Penultimate pinch for semi-doubles and small doubles

12 September - 83 days to show
Last pinch for large doubles

19 September - 76 days to the show
Penultimate pinch for large singles

26 September - 69 days to the show
Last pinch for Semi-doubles and small doubles
Penultimate pinch for medium and small singles

10 October - 55 days to the show
Last pinch for large singles

17 October - 48 days to the show
Last pinch for medium and small singles

This is only meant as a guide and weather conditions must be taken into account! If it stays very wet and cold late into the season you might need to leave longer for the plants to come into full flower after the last pinching. We will only be able to judge this as time moves on!

Good luck and I hope to see many plants on the show this year!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Blog baby at 18 weeks

08 Blog baby 18 weeks, originally uploaded by pennyeast.

The dry sunny days that we have had have really helped the young plants to get going.

I have been feeding each week with a half strength solution of seagrow, and turning each plant 90 degrees each week. When the plants are so small I pinch as soon as I see anything ready - shaping and finally pinching all the tips at the same time will come much later. I also pinch out when the tip is only just available as I don't see any point in allowing the plant to use up energy to make stems and leaves that I am only going to remove!

The young plant at 18 weeks old has been pinched a couple of times and is filling out nicely. The root system is also growing well, and when I squeezed the pot a little and looked down the side I could see roots at the edge of the soil. This means that it is ready to plant up into a 15cm pot. I will do this during the week.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Catching up!

07 blog baby 10 weeks, originally uploaded by pennyeast.

I do apologise for having neglected this blog for 8 weeks!! Life ran away with me for a while! I will try to catch up and fill the gaps during this week, and then get back to the routine of posting progress once or twice a week. Many thanks to the many people who have sent messages of concern - your kindness and good wishes are appreciated.

This picture was taken on the 7th of June and never posted! It shows the young "blog baby" at 10 weeks old. I'm posting it now just to keep chronological order in the pictures, and will post a current entry tomorrow.

This little plant is now 10 weeks old and ready for its second pinching. Notice the new growth that has developed as a result of the first pinching. The number of side shoots and growth tips is multiplying and will result in a full round plant that can bear many flowers.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Not Much to Report

The Blog Baby is 8 weeks old. Tiny new shoots are developing in the leaf axils and all is looking good. No photograph today I'm afraid - I was determined to finish my pruning today as I have a very busy week ahead preparing for my son's 21st birthday party on Saturday. I'm pleased to report that I made it - just before the rain started!! Just a few bushes in the front garden to go but they are not that important as far as timing goes!

I also managed to get all the young plants in the kindergarten turned today. Some of them were ready for their first pinching which is exciting. The soil is still very wet so they haven't been fed yet - and now it's raining again!! I do hope that there is an opportunity soon. There is enough good stuff in the soil for a few weeks, but they do so much better if they get Seagrow regularly!

I probably won't be very active on here for this week, but I will be sure to catch up when all the excitement is over.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Turn about

The little Blog Baby is seven weeks old. The two lateral buds below where it was pinched out last week are showing signs of growth, and the plant is looking very green and healthy It has weathered the storms this weekend very well, but the soil is very wet indeed so I won't be able to feed it until it is ready for watering again. I did turn it today though - along with all the other newly rooted cuttings that I transplanted during the week. Regular turning is important in keeping the plant growing evenly and straight. Plants will always grow towards the light, and the side away from the light will not be as full or well grown as that facing the best light. Turning the pots once a week in the same direction will ensure that the plant gets good light all round.

Because this job is getting bigger by the day I try to work to a system for turning the plants. When I move them to the kindergarten I place them on the shelves with all the labels at the back, then after the first week, when they have all been turned 90 degrees clockwise for the first time, all the labels land up on the right hand side of the pots, after the next turn the labels are in the front of the pots and soon. This way I can be sure that I have turned them all, and am able to see how far I got if I am disturbed while doing it. Works for me!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Extreme Cuttings

T5 Extreme Cuttings, originally uploaded by pennyeast.

The 5th and final post in the series on cuttings. Scroll down for previous entries.

There are times when cutting material is in very short supply! At those times it is possible to divide a normal tip cutting (1 and 2) into four parts - all of which have a very good chance of taking!

Figures 3 and 4 show the cutting divided into three and then four pieces, all of which are almost certain to root well and grow strongly. For these really tiny cuttings I only use vermiculite as the rooting medium as I am sure that it is clean and sterile. I always feel that these extreme cuttings are more vulnerable to botrytis and other fungal infections as the leaf tissue is in contact with the medium, and so constantly damp. Passing them through a weak fungicide solution before planting in sterile vermiculite gives them the best chance of survival in my shade house.

At this time of year they will root in three to four weeks and be ready for potting up a week after that.


There is a severe storm warning in place for the Western Cape for the whole weekend and Monday. If possible, try to protect your cuttings and very young plants from the high winds and very heavy rain expected. The little pots can be blown around, and the tiny plants and/or cuttings washed away in these conditions thus setting you back a long way.

Check the stakes and supports on any standards, and prune them back if you haven't done so already to reduce wind resistance. It is heartbreaking to have the head snapped off a a good standard in high wind!

Bring hanging baskets down to ground level and tuck them into a safe corner for a few days.

Batten down the hatches and sit tight!!