Caring for Flowers in the Heat
This summer’s high temperatures have taken a toll on window boxes, gardens and fields in the UK, with many lawns looking more like straw than lush green grass. We caught up with our founder and flower farmer Rosebie to ask for her tips and advice for caring for our blooms this summer.
1. Pots and window boxes regularly need a good water but it’s much better to give your garden a thorough soak once a week than a light water more frequently. By a thorough soak I mean leave your sprinkler on each area for a couple of hours so you are really reaching the deep roots. Just watering the surface encourages the surface roots to grow upwards, weakening the plants. Even though we’ve had some rain it may not be enough – and any new roses will definitely still need a good water.
2. Now is a great time to have a long look at your garden and plan for next year. I’ve just marked five roses that aren’t performing by tying a piece of ribbon round them so I know to take them out in the autumn when they’ve died down. Otherwise I’ll forget, and another year passes.
3. Hot dry weather increases the risk of red spider mites (Tetranychus urticae). Spider mites can attack houseplants as well as garden plants. Look out for leaves that appear dry and mottled with yellow, tan or white spots. On the underside you’ll see white, cotton-like webbing and you may catch sight of the mites themselves, which look like small white or red moving spots. On the farm we use beneficial insects to discourage red spider mites – ladybirds, lacewings and predatory mites do a good job. Ideally isolate the affected plant and give the section with the mites a good prune then spray with a solution of two tablespoons of gentle liquid soap (such as a baby shampoo) and one or two tablespoons of cooking oil mixed with a gallon of water.
4. If you are picking flowers to bring inside, cut them early in the day after the dew has dried.
5. Flowers will last longer in a metal or ceramic vessel than in glass, which heats up. We sell our English roses at farmers markets in Pimlico, Notting Hill and West Hampstead on Saturdays and Marylebone and Queen’s Park on Sundays. I’ve discovered that the regulars who get their flowers to last the longest display them in a metal container.
6. Dirty water is the number one killer of cut flowers so make sure the container you use is really clean and change the water regularly. Add cut-flower food or a mix of a teaspoon of sugar to feed the flowers, two to three drops of bleach to keep the water fresh and a dessertspoonful of vinegar to adjust the pH. And always choose a cool shady spot to display your blooms.
Thinking of planting some new roses for next year? Discover Rosebie’s suggestions here.