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Now's a good time to give your existing scenteds a health check....

(February 23, 2009)
Many gardeners hibernate over the winter period.....just like the plants!  As Spring approaches now is a good time to check out all of your plants and give them a good going over, followed by a tonic to ensure healthy plants for the coming season. 
Here's a health check list to follow:
  • are the plants dry and need a watering?  It's always better to water from below and let the roots take up as much as the plant needs.  If you water from the top it will tend to just run off the top of the compost and down the sides and disappear from the bottom of the pot and will not penetrate the compost or get anywhere near the roots.
  • are the plants pot bound?  It's a good idea to tap the plant from the pot and check the root system.  If the roots appear congested it's time to pot on into the next size up plant pot.  Don't be tempted to move into an enormous pot, it doesn't work.
  • check the state of the compost? Over time the compost becomes depleted and ends up almost dust like and needs changing.  Just like human beings plants also need feeding and a good compost helps a lot.  Scented Geraniums like a gritty compost which provides good drainage.  For an easy life we recommend using a multi-purpose compost with added John Innes.  You can buy this from most good garden centres or stores.  Don't be tempted to take a cheaper option, like a basic general multi-purpose compost, it's not worth it.  As there are different numbered John Innes read the information on the bag of compost and this will tell you what it's most suitable for.
  • potting on?  To save time and so you don't forget in a few months time we would recommend that you incorporate a slow release granular fertiliser in the compost when you repot your plants.  We use a 9 months slow release and this does for the whole season.
  • additional feeding?  All geraniums/pelargoniums like additional feeds of magnesium (epson salts will do the job) and we would give this either as a fine spray foliar feed or when we water.  You can tell when the plants need magnesium as the leaves will begin to yellow.  As a general guide we would feed magnesium on a monthly basis between March to October, although this may vary from plant to plant.  Additional magnesium feeds also works well in the vegetable garden and on the tomatoes.
  • decluttering?   A fashionable word over the past few years but it's also true of scenteds.  When they become too tightly packed with foliage they will suffer as they don't receive sufficient ventilation/air circulation.  Have a good look all over the plant for leaf debris and be sure to remove this.  In particular remove most of the bottom leaves that may be near to the compost surface.  We find this helps to keep the dreaded flys at bay.
  • have you taken lots of cuttings?  And as you tidy up the plants it's an ideal time to take cuttings - if you look lower down in this section we have given a step by step guide of taking cuttings in different ways.
  • drastic action?  So...you totally forgot to water your scenteds over the winter months and now they look dead!  All may not be lost.  If the plants really do look as they have died and gone to plant heaven...it might just be a near death experience.  Drastic action is to cut them right back to just above any green wood that you can see.  When you do this you should see moisture in the stem....if you do you are in with a chance of revival.
So there we have it...an easy guide to follow to ensure happy and healthy plants for 2009 and many years beyond.
 
Happy Gardening
Best wishes
Annie and Guy

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