Good Gardening with Mark Curtis: December 2019

01/12/19 News

We are entering the season of good news and surely with all the water that has been falling from the sky, there must be some regarding the price of water by now! Growing plants with just water, in an attractive container, is also much on trend at the moment.
I am sure you have all grown an avocado stone over water.  Anthuriums, with their pretty heart-shaped leaves lend themselves to this treatment too. Clusia, with its flat teardrop petals also looks unusually attractive.
It is sometimes called the ‘Autograph Plant’, as you can write on the leaves and the message will stay there forever. With growing plants in water you can try your own experiments with Philodendron, Swiss Cheese plants, Rosemary, Lavender, Ivy and Sage – but remember to rinse all the soil off first to prevent rotting and to change the water every few weeks. Look out for some of these at your local garden centre, as they make unusual Christmas gifts.
If you are giving to a non-gardener, or someone who has little time to spend on houseplants, then the Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera) is fairly tolerant of neglect. Other succulent types worth considering are Curio ‘Mount Everest’ from South Africa, this striking blue/grey plant suits a minimalist decor.
The Zamioculcas ‘Raven’, also from Africa, makes a bold structural statement, with its dark, glossy leaves, improving home air quality as well. These plants make a refreshingly different gift to the traditional Poinsettia, although nothing quite says Happy Christmas as a bright red one!
For the outside gardener Helleborus ‘Winter Moonbeam’, with attractive mottled foliage,  would definitely lift spirits on those darker winter days. A Merry Christmas to all gardeners, and may the New Year bring many hours of enjoyable, productive gardening.

Mark Curtis
Plant Manager, Tates of Sussex

For more gardening tips for the month, please visit