Gardening information, hints and tips on how to get the best from your Alpine plants throughout the gardening year including weed and pest control, propagation and general care advice.
By May there will be a real display of colour but it will be necessary to start to control weeds among your Alpines by hoeing or handpulling. Aubretias and other early flowering varieties will need to be trimmed after flowering to prevent seed heads forming and hence to extend the flowering season. To give your Alpines a real boost dust a good soil based compost mixture between rosettes - e.g. sedums and saxifrages especially if they are looking a little ragged or worn. The alternative is to lift the plants - dig and fertilise the soil and replant but this should not always be necessary to maintain a good healthy display.
Continue weeding and hoeing. Dead heading of aubretia and
saxifrages is still essential unless you want your plants to self-seed. Other
plants may benefit from a clipping. Trim trailing plants, not forgetting that
if they have rooted, you may wish to transplant to another part of the garden.
Plants can be repositioned during June, or this can be left until the autumn.
If necessary, water in the evening with a fine rose.
Basically just more of the same as May and June –
weeding and trimming and watering as necessary. Mounded plants which are not
showing much new growth or have a disappointing flower display can be reinvigorated
by rubbing in fine soil blended with peat, sand and a small quantity of fertilizer.
If you are serious about a continuous show of alpine flowers throughout the
season then this is the most challenging time. It is a good idea to visit
local shows or gardens open to the public, especially in your local area,
where you will be able to see what the professionals are growing and make
a note so that you can continually refine your own display. Collect seed from
those rock garden plants which are relatively short lived such as aquilegias
– shake the seed heads into an envelope and store until the end of the
year for sowing.
Now is the time to take cuttings from your alpines to increase
your stock and produce new plants to replace old, tired specimens. A shaded
cold frame or cloches will be the ideal place for your cuttings to root out
of the glare of full sun and be protected from the wind. A greenhouse, at this
time of year will be too hot for the tender cuttings. As the cuttings take
root and new growth becomes evident you can remove the protection but be prepared
to provide some shade and a water spray on particularly hot days.
Buy seeds and plants from Thompson and Morgan.
Late September is a good time to move alpines that need
to be repositioned due to overcrowding. It is also the best month to make
a new alpine bed or rockery. It can be difficult to make a rockery look natural,
unless you have a very large garden. Alpine beds on the other hand, are ideal
as raised beds or in old sinks; they don't have to look natural and are easily
Seedlings and rooted cuttings should be planted out this month into their final positions - if you leave it any later there is a real risk that the plants will not have time to become established before the winter frosts and the new root system could be damaged. This will not be such a problem with pot grown plants which should have a complete rootball established. Likewise plants which you intend to move should be moved before the end of the month - take as much of the root system as possible.
Complete trimming and dead-heading of alpines. Put a mound
of oak or beech leaves over any tender alpines, placing sticks on top to keep
them from blowing away. Heathers and pot-grown alpines can still be planted
out. Weed between plants and dispose of any perennial weeds, forking over
the soil as you go. Add a top dressing of gravel chippings to the surface
or where you already have these, add a few more where necessary.
Buy seeds and plants from Thompson and Morgan. Consider changing the look of your alpine bed with some slate chippings from HallstoneDirect.
Tidy around plants, removing perennial weeds and lightly forking over the soil. Sow seeds now that take a long time to germinate or those that need exposure to frost. Sow in shallow pots or boxes into an equal mix of peat and sharp sand. Spread the seed evenly and cover with a dusting of sand or some fine pea shingle. Place the containers outside without watering them and move into a cold frame in March to stop them drying out. Seedlings should germinate by early April.
Tidy up the ground between alpines, gently forking with a hand fork. Sow seed as described in December. Complete the ordering of new plants which will be despatched in Spring.
Early flowers should start to appear this month. Frost may have loosened the soil round plants and if so firm them back in with your fingers. A sprinkling of fine gravel will tidy up the alpine bed and help to suppress weeds. Small tufts of grass and weeds which have appeared will need to be removed - if there is a heavy infestation of weeds it may be best to lift the plants, remove all traces of the weeds and replant the plants in the weed free bed. Slugs will need to be dealt with as they appear.
Check plants that may have been loosened by frosts and firm them in gently. Seeds which have begun to germinate should be moved to a cold frame. Ordered plants should be planted as soon as they are received. Lift, divide and replant any plants which look tired or show signs of die-back.
Re-firm any plants that have been lifted by frost. If plants look a bit sickly, lift and replant in a different position, applying a general fertiliser. Beware of self-sown seedlings which you could damage if not careful. Alpine seeds sown earlier can be pricked out and moved outside towards the end of the month.