The Virgin Gardener Podcast
About This Show
Are you interested in plants? Do you want to green up your space, inside and out? The Virgin Gardener Podcast will be interviewing guests from all areas of the horticultural world, from flower-farmers and florists to Chelsea medal-winning designers and community gardeners; from Instagram gardener sensations to landscapers, mining them mercilessly for all the practical tips, tricks and advice they can give to newbie and enthusiastic amateur gardeners. Laetitia Maklouf and Andrew O’Brien pledge to forage tirelessly on your behalf so you can make your green space more gorgeous!
Most Recent Episode
Episode 4: Heather Godard-Key
"What makes a lemon smell like a lemon?”Heather Godard Key, director of Fibrex Nurseries and the pelargonium queen, gives us the complete lowdown on pelargonium care in this tip-tastic episode
Heather’s Twitter - Website - Instagram Things we talk about in the episode:Why we love pelargoniumsscent of leavesmusky stringent smellbad breathtomato foliagethe easiness of themFibrex nurseriesThe National Collection of PelargoniumsHeather’s growing historyLearning about pelargoniums, ferns and iviesThe difference between pelargoniums and geraniumsFamily: GeraneacaeSame family, different genus:Genus: Pelargonium (southern hemisphere, tender, succulent or woody shrubs)Genus: Geranium (northern hemisphere, cranesbill. Hardy, herbaceous perennial)You can’t hybridise between the two - most definitely two different things!Geranium for pelargonium is WRONG because it’s misleadingIf you can’t say pelargonium, just call them pelliesPelargoniums are really tough in the right environmentReplicate SA in the UKLoam based, open, free draining compostWater managementGood light, even over winterNo darkness, no dinginessIn England that’s difficult, but not impossibleGood airflowIn a cool environment - Strip off a lot of the leaves which they don’t need because they’re not growing and you’re not watering.Zonals, decoratives, uniques, scenteds can have majority of leaves lower down taken off, leaving just the growing tipGets rid of mildew, mould, botrytis etc at the same time - bonus!Allows good airflow which is essentialKeeping pelargoniums indoors as houseplantsAvoid a kitchen or bathroom environment - too dampSitting room, living room, porch, Close to window or on windowsill. Natural daylight - doesn’t have to be direct sunlightFeed:Tomato feed like TomoriteFirst feed of season should be a balanced feed but otherwise Tomorite as soon as you see fresh young growthBeddingZonal pelargoniums are still used for bedding - can look stunningKey is to mass-plant with just one colour. Colour match with neighbouring plantsKey group within zonals: Bold series - good chunky, strong growing with short stems and lots of flowers which are shatter-proof.Use decorative, uniques and scented for gap-filling too!Attar of roses, Grey Lady Plymouth in a mixed border - Chocolate peppermint and Tomentosum at Wisley - looked amazingContainers:Potting compost magic formula; John Innes no. 2 and multi-purpose compost half and halfRe-pot in spring and you don’t need to feed for a month because of JI You cant over-feed a pellie!Feed every time you waterIf you want to get flowers like you see in the shows then you have to feed them! They’re on steroidsPinching out.Young cuttings - single stem. Once rooted and growing, pinch out top leaf and newest bud. Leaving a couple of live axils below means it will start to branch out. It’s not about height, it’s about body.Keep pinching outFibrex takes cuttings in August through to April. The pinching out happens throughout, until February. From buds, flowers will appear in six weeks. Pinching out is instinctive and takes practice, but not a lot of time if you’ve got a few pots outside the door.Dead heading.Pelargoniums LOVE to flower. If you take off the untidy ones it will grow more as soon as possible. If you leave them, the plant slows down.Heather deadheads every plant, every week - LOTS of work! Not so for a few pots.Snap bottom of flower stem between fingers and it will come off naturallyOverwintering.CuttingsPrepare your pot, 9 -12 cm Sterile seed compost and perlite or grit for drainage, Pat mixture down and saturate with water. Take cuttings, 2 inches at most depending on variety. Heather takes tip cuttings with one or two leaf nodes. Strip bottom leaves off, leaving growing tip and a couple of leaves at top. After 4-5 days give another drink. 5-10 cuttings in a 9cm pot. Cuttings really do like company. Heather pushes her cuttings straight in - no dibber and no rooting hormone.Heather likes to keep the leaves touching in the nursery.Leaving pelargoniums in pots over winterStart in September to prepare them by feeding them with a general purpose feedStops them from flowering. Take a third off in Autumn and strip the leaves. Re-pot in spring with fresh compost, fluffing up the roots. Water in lightly. After a couple of weeks, general feed and then put outside. Night temps should be around five degrees - leave till mid may or end of may. If you want them to continue flowering in a conservatory then just keep feeding tomato food.Windowsill with radiator is fine as they like a dry environmentBest are dwarves and miniatures for permanent flowering as they won’t outgrow their space.Other overwintering ideas:Hanging the upside-down. Used to be done. It’s a bit extreme and not entirely necessary. You can leave in the compost just ease off on the watering.Pests and diseases. The whitefly clap. Use invigorators rather than insecticides. SB invigorator gives the plant extra and has ammonia which whitefly hate. Good for spider mite too. Spidermite like dry environments Greenfly like the soft young growth. Squish.Pelargonium starter-kit for newbiesScented: Attar of Roses. The gorgeousness of it!Decorative: Ashby. Strong, easy, free-flowering, big and beautiful, and EARLY.Specie: Austral. From Tasmania. Borderline hardy. Dark green, with delicate white flowersPellie cake. What makes a lemon smell like a lemon?Pelargoniums have over 120 volatile chemicals in the leaves. Hence the huge variety of scents and flavoursBest houseplant pelargonium: Fragrans because of fresh fragrance and height. Delicate, pretty, delightful.May 1st national collection is open free of charge, but you can visit whenever you like.Pellie party! Smelly pellie jelly! Turn up! Links, Plants and important stuff we mention:Zonal Bold seriesAttar of RosesGrey Lady PlymouthChocolate PeppermintTomentosumTomorite tomato foodSB invigoratorHeather’s top three for beginners:Attar of RosesAshbyAustralHouseplant favourite: FragransFibrex Pellie Party