Time to put your Pelargoniums to bed!

Time to put your Pelargoniums to bed.

I hope you have had a wonderful display from all your Pelargoniums this summer?

As the days begin to draw in it is time to begin to think about putting the garden to bed for the winter and that includes your Pelargoniums.  They are not frost hardy so will not survive our winters.  Ideally they would like you to pack them up and send them off to the Med for the winter months.

However if Mediterranean residency is not a possibility then I can give you some good advice on how to overwinter your Pelargoniums here in England.

So, the most important point is that wherever you choose to keep your plants for the winter is that it is frost free and dry.  So a cold greenhouse will not do, nor will a shed if we get a cold winter.  Neither will stay frost free for long.

If you have a heated greenhouse or a conservatory that will be heated through the winter, these are ideal places for your Pelargoniums to be overwintered as green plants. Many will continue to flower well into the winter for you if they get enough winter sunshine and food.

If neither of these are an option for you then a garage attached to the house (to benefit from some of your residual central heating warmth) or a spare room will do nicely.

For this option you must prepare your plants for the winter. They need to be allowed to dry out in their pots and then with clean sharp secateurs cut them back hard.

Now, this is where you will need to be mentally strong, you will feel awful, after all summer feeding and watering your plants, I am now asking you to cut them right back.

Cut them back to about 3inches and then take off any leaves that are left, you should be left with just stumps.

They will look dreadful but by removing the aerial part of the plant you are removing the need to water them and all that material that would offer perfect conditions for botrytis (grey mould) to grow during the winter months.

These ‘stumps’ now need to be kept frost free and dry for the winter, so no watering, not even a little bit!  You are putting them into hibernation for the winter. They do not need light so a garage will work or a spare room.  The most important point is to keep them dry and frost free from here on.

Do not cover them in plastic to give them extra frost protection they will just sweat in there and the dampness will encourage grey mould which will just kill them off.

Fleece can be used to offer a little extra protection but it would be good to make sure it is removed occasionally to allow fresh air round your plants to ward off any possibilities of grey mould.

Now here is the tricky part:

You have to leave them alone till the end of the winter, no well meaning watering after New Year when we all get that ‘January itch’ to start doing things in/for our gardens.  A well meaning watering at this point will just lead to a soggy mess of grey mould for you to find at the end of winter, leave well alone!

Now this is not a failsafe system, sometimes for reasons unknown plants do not survive but if you can get say 50% through the winter then it is well worth a go.

For a video with step by step instructions showing you how hard to cut your plants back find the You Tube channel “GeraniumTv” and look for the video “How to cut back Pelargoniums (Geraniums)”.


Cutting back Lavender

Lavender Care


Lavenders are very easy going plants for maintenance and care but do need a good “haircut” once a year.

The end of August/beginning of September is the time to cut back your lavenders, whether they are in pots or planted out in the borders, they need an annual hair cut to keep their shape. Without cutting them back your plants will soon become woody, leggy and not so attractive.

The rule of thumb is to cut them back hard.

Angustifolia (English) Lavender should be cut back to a third of its height.

Stoechas (French) Lavender should be cut back to half its height.

So that’s not just taking off spent flowers but cutting back the foliage as well.

To make it easier to see what you are doing cut the flowers off first then cut the plant back to a third or half of its size. Try to ensure you remove all cutting material from the plant so it does not start to rot and cause fungal problems.

When you cut your plants back avoid cutting into the woody stems. Make sure there are growth points below your cut, as this is where the new growth will come from.

Cutting your lavenders back will give the plant time to re grow before the onset of winter. The plant is able then to produces a nice bushy mound of new leaves to help it cope with our wet, English winters. This new growth will use up the water from around the root system through the wettest months of the year,

For a more detailed & visual aid to cutting back your lavender visit our You Tube channel, geraniumtv, where you will find 2 videos showing how to cut your Lavenders back.


Getting to know Agapanthus

Agapanthus originate in South Africa, and out there they grow en masse like weeds on the road sides.

Over here in the Uk it is a different story, they have to survive our cold winters and make do with limited sunshine during our English summers. If treated correctly though they can thrive in our gardens and given a little winter care they can produce stunning displays for us throughout the summer.

The flowers are either white or all the different hues of blue you can imagine through into purples.

You have fresh tall white flowers of: Arctic Star and compact growing Snow Pixie with short flowering stems of white flowers at 40 cm tall, perfect for pots or the front of borders, she flowers well into the Autumn months keeping that summer vibe in the garden.

Then there is Northern Star a rich dark blue flower on 75cm tall flowering stems. This is by far the most popular variety we grow with staff and customers alike. Megan’ s Mauve as the name suggests is a mauve blue flower and has a darker stripe down the centre of each flower petal to add to its wow factor.

Agapanthus can be split into 2 categories; Deciduous and Evergreen.

The deciduous varieties lose their leaves at the end of the summer and are generally hardier than the Evergreen types. Remove the dead leaves and mulch with a little straw and they will sit out the winter quietly in borders or pots.

Evergreen Varieties keep their leaves all year round and tend to need a little more winter protection. They have larger flower heads than the deciduous types and have wider leaves.

They are best grown in pots so you can either move the pots into a cold green house for the winter or move them closer to the house or into a sheltered area of the garden to help them through the winter. When the winter temperatures really begin to plummet and if you have left your Evergreen Agapanthus outside you can give them a little extra protection by making them a windbreak with canes and a little plastic. This will help to keep the worst of the cold weather out and if they forecast very cold weather a handful of straw on top of the foliage will help to insulate the plants further. Just remember to make sure you remove this straw as soon as the weather has warmed up slightly or else it will sit and rot on to the leaves.

Growing Agapanthus in pots is a great way to bring those beautiful big flower heads up on to the patio. Agapanthus like to be “Pot Full” but not “Pot Bound” and there is a fine line between the two.

Once an Agapanthus becomes “Pot Bound” the number of flowers it can produce will dramatically reduce and will eventually come to none. This is because it will have got to the point where all that is in the pot is beautiful white roots, all the compost will have been pushed out, so there is no medium left to hold water or fertiliser for the plant to take up. It is at this point you will need to either re-pot into a bigger pot, or to split it up and pot up into 2 pots. Generally every 2-3 years you should be thinking about re-potting or splitting your Agapanthus.

Feed and watering are important jobs for you to consider when growing Agapanthus in your garden. They require regular watering from early spring to the end of summer, they will use a lot to grow and to produce their flowers. A regular liquid feed of a high potash fertiliser from spring to the end of autumn is also important, this will help flower bud production, for this year and for next year. Even after your plants have finished flowering regular watering and feeding will set the plant and buds up for next summers display. What you do this year for your plants, will show in the next summer. Water as regular as needed and feed once or, even better, twice a week.

Agapanthus like full sun, so find them a sunny spot in the garden so they can make the most of all the sunshine. Even after they have finished flowering they will need as much sun as they can get as this will help them set up their blooms for next summer.

Have a look on our You Tube channel “Geranium tv” to find our short films we have made on how to over winter Agapanthus and on splitting them & re-potting Agapanthus.

Making sence of Scents.

Scented Pelargoniums are a wonderful addition to the Pelargonium family. All the aroma comes from the leaves not the flowers.

On the leaves there are small sacks of oil and it is this oil that carries the scent. As you rub the leaves or brush against them these sacks of oil are ruptured releasing their scents into the air.

How about adding some scented leaf Pelargoniums to your pots to add another dimension to your planting scheme. There are a wonderful selection of scents to choose from. How about a zesty “Orange Fizz” or a fresh citrus scent of “Citronella”. The minty fresh scent of “Fern Mint” is a head clearer! Then there is “Big Apple”, “Creamy Nutmeg” and “Ardwick Cinnamon” for those foodies amongst you, although you cannot eat them they will make your taste buds water from their scents alone.

Mix in your scented leaf Pelargoniums with your flowering Pelargoniums, planting the scented leaf around the edge of the pot, so when you brush past them they release their scents for you. Place these pots either side of your front door so as you come home after work each day & brush past them they will welcome you home with their delicious aroma.

Scented Pelargoniums are delightfully tactile, children love testing out thier scents here on the nursery. They are defantly plants that you will want to share with your friends and family so make sure you plant them somewhere in the garden where you can get at them. Try them in pots on the patio where you sit out in the evening or perhaps in the play area for the children to discover and enjoy.

Try them in your hanging baskets alongside your Ivy Leaf Pelargoniums. “Attar of Roses” with her traditional rose scent is always popular and has a prostrate(sideways) growth habit so it goes outwards rather than upwards. Plant her at the edge of your basket where her scent can float down to you. “Lavender Lady” has a fantastic lavender scent to her leaves and delicate, single pink flowers borne on long flowering stalks, that will trail daintily over the sides of you baskets.


Top Tips for Hanging Basket success.

Top Tips for Hanging Basket success.

This month at Cramden Nursery we are planting up our hanging baskets.

As we are finally jumping in to spring we can start to think about the summer ahead. April is a great time of year to begin to plan your summer garden display.

If you can start your hanging baskets off now they will look great by the time you are ready to hang them out in your garden at the end of May (when the risk of frosts should have passed).

Happy Face mex

Where to grow you basket?

What you will need first is somewhere with plenty of natural light and a warm environment for you hanging basket to get growing. A heated greenhouse, conservatory or a warm porch is ideal. The more warmth & light you can give your basket the quicker you plants will grow.

What size basket?

The bigger the basket , the bigger the display will potentially be. Bigger baskets will need less regular watering in summer too due to its larger water capacity. However, make sure your basket has a suitable bracket. These things can get quite heavy once watered. So think about strength and make sure it holds the basket way from your wall!

Which Compost?

Use a good coarse compost, this will keep an open structure for you roots to grow through and aid drainage. A good idea would be to incorporate water retaining granules or gel into your growing medium as hanging basket always dry out quicker than pots on the ground or plants in the borders.

How many young plants to use?

How many plants to use will depend on the size of basket you have and when you are planting it up. The earlier you start your basket the less plants you will need as you are giving them time to grow and fill out into your basket. Don’t be tempted to squash too many plants in as they do need room to grow.

To give you an idea of how many plants we use at Cramden nursery, a 14″ basket in April will be planted up with 6 young plants.

Newly planted basket

Here on the nursery we like to fill our hanging baskets with just Ivy leaf Pelargoniums. We find there is no need to use an upright plant in the middle of the basket as the Ivy leaf Pelargoniums will fill the basket top and then tumble over the edge for us beautifully.

How to put it all together.

If you are using a wire basket don’t forget that it will need a liner.

Fill the basket with your compost, try not to push the compost down as you will squash out that essential air/oxygen for the roots. Fill to the top but not over flowing.

Lay out your plants evenly round the edge of the basket leaving 1 or 2 plants to go in the middle.

Using 2 fingers make a hole for your rooted cutting root ball and pop it in. Do not firm or push your plant down into your compost, the watering at the end will do that for you.

Once you have all your plants in place, your basket will need a water. Using a rose on the end of your hose or watering can will prevent compost being “splashed” out of your basket. Give your hanging basket a good initial water. Here at Cramden Nursery we always give our newly planted baskets a double watering to ensure all the compost is completely wet .

If this all sounds like too much hard work or you do not have the space, wait until the frosts have gone and plant up your baskets with mature plants for that instant impact.

If you are still a little unsure visit our You Tube channel, geraniumtv, for a hanging basket tutorial. Look for the video “planting a hanging basket with Pelargoniums”.

If you have any questions then come in and see us or get in touch.

Happy planting.

Vill de Dresden hanging basket


Hardy Geraniums at Cramden Nursery

We have had a busy week potting up next season Hardy geranium plants.

We use a peat based compost with vermiculite to provide a good open structure for the roots to grow in.  Hardy Geraniums are generally easy garden plants to grow, however growing them in 2L pots for sale has provided us with a few challenges.  Getting the potting compost right has been a learning process.  We think we now have a good mix that keeps the roots happy.  And Happy roots means a healthy plant.

hardy geraniumsn

How to overwinter your beautiful Dahlias.

How to overwinter your beautiful Dahlias.

Dahlias are not frost hardy and so need to be lifted for the winter months.

Dahlias produce a swollen root system and it is these roots that need to be protected.

Your first job will be to cut back the aerial part of the plant right down to the base of the plant.

Use a garden fork to dig up the whole root system of your Dahlia, here you will find several swollen roots all connected to the base of the plant. You need to keep it all together but you can brush off the old compost from around the roots. If any of the swollen roots come away from the roots system you can discard these as they will not come to anything on their own. However, in the spring when they begin to show signs of new shoots and roots of their own then they can be divided.


For now, your root system needs to be placed in a box or a large enough pot and covered with compost, this compost will prevent the swollen roots from drying out over winter. They now need a place that is frost free for the winter months to survive.


Remember, having got them through the winter, don’t be too keen to plant them out in the spring. Wait until the last of the frosts have passed.

Here is one of our Dahlia root systems we have dug up .  That is all from 1 cutting that was planted up in April! It was a beautiful big plant and now we can see why with this  great root system supporting it.


Website shop up and running at Cramden Nursery

Had a productive morning sitting in the warm resetting our website shop. It is now ready to begin taking orders for rooted cuttings of:

Scented Pelargoniums, Unusual Pelargoniums, Ivy Leaf Pelargoniums and Zonal Pelargoniums.

Plud plant size

They will be ready for dispatch in March 2016.

Check it out on : http://cramdennursery.co.uk/

Gosh so that is 2015 with only a month left in it!