N A P S Northern Section

                          Summer Care of Auriculas

                       1, Summer Quarters.

With your auriculas freshly re-potted, the time has arrived to find them a home.  Dont  worry if some of the leaves seem to be turning pale and dying off- the plants usually recover. However the plants do not appreciate full sunlight in which they soon turn very pale.  Keep an eye on the centre- it should remain green. The dead leaves can be removed to help prevent botrytis.

 

 

                      2, A Shady Spot.

Most gardens can find somewhere to place a few plants so that they are protected from fierce sunlight. Putting the pots in a seed tray makes for easier handling.

 In this picture the plants are by a north facing corner, they never get direct sunshine.

 

 3, In a Greenhouse.

For some there will be little option other than to leave them in the greenhouse. If this is your situation there are a few points to consider, especially if the greenhouse is sited in a location which receives the full force of the sun. It can be useful to carry out a simple temperature check for yourself. If your greenhouse bench regularly reaches 130F then you may consider:

a) Shading, either with lime wash, coolglass, shade netting.

b) Removing some of the panes of glass to let the heated air out. Some at the ends and some round the sides, high and low will help with air circulation.

c) Placing the plants under the bench, on the floor.  

In early June I made some temperature measurements in my greenhouse, an aluminium framed 12x8 which gets full sunshine.

 

On the bench in full sun

 

125F

 

On the bench, shaded with voile

 

105F

 

On the bench under shade netting

 

90F

 

On floor, under the bench

 

80F

Plants and seedlings do seem to do well on the floor of my greenhouse.  

If your greenhouse is shaded on the southern side from the full sun, e.g. by trees or buildings, then all that is needed is to let in plenty of air at the hot times of the year. This is probably the ideal spot.

                        4, Cold Frame.

Many auricula growers like to keep the plants in a shady cold frame. Here, the north side of the house has been commandeered, but shading from a hedge, fence or tree is also very good. Try to avoid directly under a tree, some, e.g. sycamore, drop sticky substances on the plants which then accumulate dirt. They do not need to be under glass at this time, it saves watering. Dont worry about plants with mealy leaves getting a wetting, the meal will re-appear when plants are covered up in winter. Some growers have cold frames on legs and these clearly have several advantages. Inspection of the plants is much easier and creepy crawlies are less likely to stumble across your treasures.

 

 

                   5, Shade Tunnel. 

If you are not fortunate in having a shady spot then a good alternative is to make a shade tunnel. These come in all sizes, from moveable cloches to walk in structures, large enough to accommodate benches. They may be easily constructed with some posts or poles and a roll of shade netting. 

If you  embark on cold frames or shade frames do bear in mind that your plants must not be left uncovered through the winter months when protection against high winds, gales, snow and driving rain is necessary. 

 

                   6, Watering in the summer.

Watering can become an onerous business in summer and it is as well to pay some attention to this when planning the summer quarters of your plants and your holiday schedule.

Plants which were re-potted soon after the show should have formed their new root systems by mid-summer and be less susceptible to fluctuations in heat and moisture. The plants should not require feeding if re-potting has taken place.

 At this time of year it does the plants no harm to be watered from above, either by the rain or by a watering can. If you are unsure as to whether or not they need water then you can either: use a moisture meter or knock the plant from its pot and look at the compost. You will quickly be able to judge from the weight of the pot if watering is necessary.

 

The advantage of putting the plants outside, in a cool shady spot is now apparent- the plants can be rained on. If you wish you can build a plunge bed and sink the pots up to their necks in sand or gravel, the constant evaporation on hot days helps keep the plants cool. This is particularly helpful if you like to grow your plants in clay pots.

 If your plants are left in a greenhouse, beware! Very high temperatures and waterlogged, impervious pots spell curtains for auriculas. So if your plants are under glass you must water with care; from either above with a watering can or from below by standing them in trays of water. Ensure you have provided them with a free-draining compost.  

 Holidays do pose a problem and many a collection has been seen off by inexpert attention from a well meaning friend or relative. Nowadays capillary matting is a great help, especially if coupled with electronically controlled watering systems. Some growers cover the plants with water-soaked newspaper before they set off and this is said to keep the plants alive for up to a fortnight in a greenhouse. Others go away for only a week at a time. Clearly those whose plants are open to the rain have a less worrying time of it.

Article and pictures by Bob Taylor.

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