Thompson & Morgan Gardening Blog

Our gardening blog covers a wide variety of topics, including fruit, vegetable and tree stories. Read some of the top gardening stories right here.

Propagation, planting out and cultivation posts from writers that know their subjects well.

Hyacinths masterclass: best expert content

Hyacinth ‘T&M Mix’ from Thompson & Morgan
Hyacinths create fabulous colour displays with powerful scent
Image: Hyacinth ‘T&M Mix’ from Thompson & Morgan

If you want to force hyacinth bulbs indoors to enjoy their flower, scent and colour over the winter, here’s a selection of expert advice from our favourite bloggers, YouTubers and Instagrammers. These independent posts and videos give you step-by-step advice on how to make these spring-flowering bulbs bloom early. You’ll also find information on growing them in water, and getting your hyacinths to flower again, year after year.

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Rise of the bedding plants

Begonia semperflorens ‘Organdy Mixed’ F1 Hybrid from Thompson & Morgan
Fill your beds and borders with show stopping bedding plants
Image: Begonia semperflorens ‘Organdy Mixed’ F1 Hybrid from Thompson & Morgan

Bedding plants became incredibly popular in the Victorian era, when specialist plant hunters were dispatched to find new and unique specimens to add colour and interest to gardens. The surge in interest coincided with the abolition of the glass tax. This meant that, for the first time, more people were able to erect modest glasshouses in their gardens allowing them to grow a wider range of the new bedding plants that were brought back from warmer parts of the world. Here’s why this Victorian status symbol has stood the test of time…

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Best interiors Instagrammers to follow

Colourful backdrop for interior design from @poppyrobin_myhome
Follow these accounts and get interior design inspiration
Image: @poppyrobin_myhome

Do you want to give your home a stylish new makeover and change things up a bit? Here are some of the best Instagram accounts to provide inspiration. Not only do these clever creatives offer a peek at their truly lovely homes, they share top tips to help you achieve the look yourself. Whether you’re hunting for ideas or just enjoy having something beautiful to admire during your coffee break, these are the Insta accounts to follow…

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Choosing hedge plants to save funds!

Bare root hedging plants collection from T&M
Bare root hedge plants are a cost-effective way to create a boundary
Image: Thompson & Morgan

Bare root plants are often far cheaper than potted plants. These young ‘whips’ establish quicker than more mature specimens and will soon catch up in size. Given the quantity of plants that are normally required to create a hedge, it’s a ‘no brainer’ to buy your plants as bare roots – in fact bare root hedge plants are by far one of the greatest savings you can make in the garden. Here’s the best way to spend that hedge fund…

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Top 5 favourite hedges

Ornate hedging in garden

Hedges are a great way to partition different areas of your garden
Image: Stephanie Braconnier/Shutterstock

A hedge is an integral part of any garden, providing privacy and security while supplying wildlife with food and shelter too. A practical way to partition your outside space without the need for a fence, a hedge is undoubtedly a beautiful thing in its own right too. Here are five of our favourite hedge plants to provide ideas and inspiration for your own garden.

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Garden redesign – Geoff Stonebanks at Driftwood

Geoff Stonebanks

Geoff Stonebanks shares his exciting garden redesign
Image: Geoff Stonebanks

Catch up with one of our favourite bloggers, Geoff Stonebanks, creator and keeper of the award-winning Driftwood garden. Here he gives us an exclusive insight to the creation of his brand new Mediterranean themed area, and shares a snapshot of his time capsule for the future!

Creating a Mediterranean garden

Geoff Stonebanks mediterranean garden

Geoff’s new drought tolerant area is easy to care for and has a striking, mediterranean look
Image: Geoff Stonebanks

Back in March 2021, I conceived the idea to create a sunken patio garden at the rear of the house by digging out the area on the left side of the garden and creating a Mediterranean area with drought tolerant plants, a collection of succulents and shrubs.

While doing this, we created rustic brick and old railway sleeper edging to replace the original raised wooden beds alongside the rear of the house and around the central steps, which had started to rot. The small patio by the green folly door was extended to meet the rear of the dug-out area which is secured, unusually, with 50 old railway sleepers on end.

At the onset of the work, a follower on Twitter said: “the destructive bit is terrifying – but then comes the creative bit”. How very true those words really are.

So, for 11 days in October, local landscaper, Dan Smith and his company, Ace Of Spades, worked their magic using my own design ideas to create an amazing space, bordered by upturned old railway sleepers. Dan navigated a mini digger through the left side of the house and excavated 4 skips of chalk and debris, creating the new sunken garden area.

I felt so sorry for his team as they then had to wheelbarrow all the debris down the steep drive to the waiting skips. More importantly, they then had to carry the 50 railway sleepers up the drive too. Landscaper Dan said: “Thanks Geoff, hope you enjoy the new area as much as we did building it. It looks amazing, can’t wait to see it in its full glory spring time“.

The completed space already looks amazing but will not show its true potential until next Spring, when it will be dressed with my large collection of succulents.

A facebook visitor and follower, Sacha Hubbard, posted on social media: “Anyone who hasn’t seen Driftwood but has read your posts, might think you’re Mr Manyacres! What you do with an average size modern garden plot is simply astonishing. I think a ‘How I did it’ book about your garden could be inspirational and valuable to so many people who don’t have a large garden but want to do something interesting with a relatively small space”.

The Driftwood garden time capsule

Driftwood garden time capsule

Geoff’s time capsule is a snapshot of the garden for the future
Image: Geoff Stonebanks

A friend suggested I bury a time capsule beneath the new patio paving. Spurred on by the idea, I purchased a capsule and set about asking people on social media what I should include inside. There is no date set to open it, so it’ll be discovered whenever anyone changes the garden in the future!

These are the items that made the final selection:

  • Digital memory stick with images of the garden, media & award coverage, charity recognition, achievements, cake recipes, garden visitors and a pdf copy of Geoff’s book about the garden
  • Current monetary coinage
  • Covid-19 test kit and Frida Kahlo face mask
  • Petrol receipt
  • National Garden Scheme 2021 booklet, Driftwood on cover, scheme name badge and pin badge
  • Macmillan Cancer Support biro, pin badge and 2019 trail booklet.
  • Morrisons & Waitrose club cards
  • Business cards: Geoff Stonebanks & Mark Glassman
  • Lapel Remembrance poppy
  • 3 packets of seeds
  • Garden visitor’s favourite cappucino cake recipe
  • Fingerprints, Geoff Stonebanks, Barbara Stonebanks (mother), Mark Glassman (partner) and pawprint of Chester the terrier
  • Photo of John & Lois Starley, (Seaford residents) our most frequent paying garden visitors over the years!
  • Copy of Geoff’s monthly gardening page ‘Bournefree’ from October 2021
  • Copy of Geoff’s Argus weekly gardening column from 8th October 2021
  • Copy of Geoff’s monthly Garden News column from September 2021
  • Latitude and Longitude details of the house and the time capsule
  • Digital stick with Latest TV Brighton gardening television features from 2014, filmed at Driftwood with Geoff, courtesy of Angi Mariani
  • Midland Bank crown dated 4th August 1980, donated by Barbara Stonebanks

Visit Driftwood garden

Driftwood garden Mediterranean area

Visit Driftwood to see the rest of Geoff’s fantastic garden
Image: Geoff Stonebanks

After over 10 years of opening Driftwood garden to the public, I realised it was starting to become a chore to water so many containers of summer annuals. Watering them could take in excess of 5 hours from start to finish! At last count there were over 300 containers across the garden as a whole, with a heavy concentration on the back patio. This inspired the idea to design an attractive new ‘Mediterranean’ area, to reduce the need for so much water while still looking fantastic.

See the new look Driftwood in 2022. It’s listed in the National Garden Scheme’s handbook and will be open from 1st June to 31st July, by arrangement, and for the Macmillan Coastal Garden Trail on 23rd and 24th July. Full details on the website at www.driftwoodbysea.co.uk

If you can’t make it in person, then view the whole design process from start to finish and keep up to date with daily videos on the garden development page of the website.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this update from Driftwood garden. Have you got big plans for your outdoor space? Explore the rest of the T&M blog for simple design tricks to transform your garden. Share your before and after pics with us via our social channels, or drop us a line via email.

Top 10 Easiest Houseplants

A group of easy to grow houseplants including Zamioculcas (back left) Sanseviera (far left), Aspidistra (second right) and Spathiphyllum (far right).

Would you love to have some lush greenery in your home but don’t feel that you have the expertise? Let’s face it – we have all killed a houseplant – or two or three….perhaps more! But don’t let that put you off. There’s a houseplant out there for every type of gardener, however inexperienced or guilty!   

If you are self-confessed plant-killer with a shameful back catalogue of murdered houseplants our Bombproof Houseplants are the answer.

Or perhaps you are a well-intentioned plant-lover who is just too lazy, forgetful, or busy to love your plants full time? Then our Low Maintenance Houseplants will cope with neglect.

Bombproof Houseplants

Aspidistra elatior (Cast Iron Plant)

Keep the Aspidistra Flying! The titular Aspidistra in George Orwell’s novel has typecast this plant as a Victorian fuddy-duddy. But Aspidistra really deserves more appreciation and the RHS have awarded it an AGM for good reason. Aspidistra has a cast iron constitution, hence its common name. Naturally growing in the deep, dry shade of forests in Japan and Taiwan they can cope with poor light levels and drought. With its strong, upright leaves it creates ambient greenery in grim spots where no other plant will survive. There is plenty of evidence to support the psychological benefits of indoor greenery, so if you have a gloomy room or a soulless office which could do with some green life to perk it up, then the Aspidistra is perfect. Although like all plants it needs water, if you forget to water your Aspidistra she will cope. If you are a determined plant-killer, Aspidistra is a tough cookie and will treat neglect with disdain.

Sanseviera trifasciata var. Laurentii (Mother in Law’s tongue)

A born survivor long known under its dated nickname ‘Mother-in-law’s tongue,’ Sanseviera has been justly rehabilitated as a style icon. Its clean, simple lines and boldly striped design make this plant a living sculpture which looks at home amongst modern décor. Sanseviera comes from desert habitats in Africa and Southern Asia and is well adapted to arid conditions with its hard, fleshy leaves which store water. They also exhibit a novel form of photosynthesis. Unlike most plants, which open their leaf pores during the day whilst photosynthesis takes place, Sansevieria keeps its pores firmly shut during daytime heat, reducing water loss through its leaves. As a result, this plant should only be watered every few weeks and is ideal for reckless neglect. However, leaving her soaking in a puddle of stagnant water is like kryptonite to this houseplant superhero. Such appalling treatment is likely to make other houseplants expire in sympathy!

ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

Aptly known as the Eternity Plant, Zamioculcas is practically unkillable. Stiffly upright and armoured with thick, dark green leaves, this warrior of a plant is not easily defeated. Its dark foliage is rich in chlorophyll making it perfect for rooms with lower light levels. And if you fancy something striking, there is even a variety with leaves so dark they are almost black. The ZZ plant is ideal for the inattentive gardener. Swollen stems and roots hold moisture and nutrients so it is rarely hungry or thirsty. Before giving it a drink ensure that the compost has dried out completely.

Low Maintenance Houseplants

Aloe Vera

The adaptable Aloe Vera has spread far beyond its native habitat in the Arabian Peninsula and become naturalised across the world in warm climates. It will adapt equally well to the warmth of your home, as long as you keep it in a bright place and go easy on the watering. Known to the ancient Egyptians as the ‘plant of immortality,’ lazy gardeners should have a job trying to kill this one. Equipped with thick fleshy leaves full of water-storing gel and covered with a waxy skin the Aloe only needs an occasional drink when its gravelly compost is completely dried out.

Desert Candle (Euphorbia abyssinica)

Your Euphorbia abyssinica may not reach these heights!
But it still makes a striking and sculptural houseplant

The crazy candelabra of Euphorbia abyssinica is capable of growing into a tree reaching ten metres in the wild. Don’t worry! It won’t reach such unwieldy proportions as a houseplant, but it is a fast growing succulent capable of becoming a large and striking specimen. Boldly columnar with multi-branching, ribbed segments edged with spines, the Desert Candle is a dramatically sculptural plant. It makes an excellent solitary centrepiece or can be used to provide effective contrast amongst a group of softer leaved plants. Give Euphorbia abyssinica a bright position growing in gritty compost and all it needs is an occasional splash of water when the roots are dry.

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

The cool white spathes of the Peace Lily create a tranquil atmosphere and reflect light in dim corners where other houseplants won’t thrive. This easy-going plant is native to tropical rainforests of the Americas. An inhabitant of the understory, it is adapted to lower light levels. If the idea of caring for houseplants induces anxiety, the undemanding Peace Lily will calm your fears and live quietly and contently in partial shade only asking that you water it enough to keep the compost just moist.

Epipremnum aureum (Golden Pothos, Devils Ivy)

Originally from one small island in French Polynesia, Epipremnum has bullied its way across the tropical world to become an exotic pest in wild habitats. But this invasive brute makes a perfect houseguest as its tough constitution shakes off terrible growing conditions making it almost impossible to kill. It also has the advantage of being a climbing vine, which lends it adaptable to different types of display. Its sprawling stems are equipped with aerial roots which will attach themselves to any grippy surface, including your wall if you let it! More usually, it is grown up a pole lending height to indoor plant displays and creating columns of greenery which don’t occupy much space. Alternatively, it can be left to trail out of a pot and grown as a hanging plant.

Epipremnum’s other strengths include its ability to tolerate lower light levels. Finding good light spots for houseplants can be a challenge and light intensity plummets dramatically as you move away from a window. But Epipremnum tolerates lower light levels and will even retain its golden variation. It will also put up with lazy watering and should only be given a drink when the compost is drying out.

Cacti

Perfectly at home in scorching deserts, Cacti won’t get in a prickly mood when you turn your heating up! Many houseplants come from tropical regions with high humidity and the dry atmosphere of your centrally heated home during the winter months may not be the most hospitable environment for them. But cacti love to be warm and dry. These resilient characters are basically water-holding stems that have ditched their leaves for spines. They have frail and shallow root systems, but these roots will quickly grow in response to rainfall. So, if you habitually forget to water your plants, Cacti will thrive on your negligence as it will give them the chance to dry out between waterings. Grow them in bright light on a south facing window sill, always using a proprietary cactus compost.

Sempervivums

Long-living Sempervivum is commonly known as ‘houseleek’ but its Latin name literally translates as ‘forever (semper) alive (vivum)’. These rugged little survivors are used to coping with deserts, stony ground, and sunny rocks. They are great for beginners because they come in a fabulous range of colours and textures and offer the opportunity to gradually amass a varied collection. As well as their decorative foliage, attractive spikes of starry flowers are borne on mature rosettes. Although the mother rosette dies after flowering it produces plenty of baby plants to replace it.

With a bit of creative flair sempervivums can make wonderful displays. Cram them into terracotta pots, old teacups, or rusty tins for an eccentric and fun exhibit. Any recycled container will do, provided you make a drainage hole in the bottom and use a very gritty compost. Make the holes by gently tapping a nail into the bottom of the container.

Keep your Sempervivums on a bright sunny windowsill and they don’t need much care other than removing dead rosettes and old leaves. In the summer months they can be left outside. An occasional feed with cactus and succulent fertiliser will give a boost to growth. But avoid high-nitrogen feeds as these will make your plants grow soft and become liable to rot.

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

Over time, Spider Plants can become spectacular specimens

You might be scared of spiders but there is nothing intimidating about the Spider Plant, Chlorophytum comosum. Spider Plants are perfectly unfussy creatures which adapt to a wide range of conditions, although unlike spiders, they don’t like to hide in dark corners. Grow your spider plant in a bright spot and water regularly but allow the compost to dry out between drinks. They look great cascading from a shelf or tumbling from a hanging pot.

So even if you don’t have green thumbs or lots of time, there’s a host of undemanding houseplants which will beautify your home without requiring much skill or effort. For more ideas browse our Houseplant Section.

Top 10 Houseplants : The Best of the Bunch and How to Grow Them

From Monkey Leaves to Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, houseplants offer a dazzling variety of leaf shapes, forms, and colours. And from bright, warm window sills, to cool humid bathrooms, they each have their own preferences for where and how they like to live. In case you are feeling bewildered, we have narrowed down the very best. Here is an introduction to our Top Ten Houseplants, answering all your questions on why grow it, where to grow it, how to grow it and even, how (not) to kill it!

1. Mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata var. laurentii)

Why grow Sansevieria?

Spiky leaves which create vertical accents and contrast beautifully with softer-leaved plants. These punky plants are also excellent air-purifiers. NASA research into cleaning air in space stations found that they remove a host of common air pollutants.

Where to grow Sanseviera?

Anywhere! Sansevieras are born survivors and although they do best in bright light, (but not direct summer sun), they will also tolerant partial light.

How to grow Sansevieria?

Neglect it! Treat it mean and it will grow keen. Water it only once every few weeks. Over-water it and it will rot. Don’t bother potting it on unless the pot is about to break! And if you do, use a very gravelly, free draining compost. 

How (not) to kill it

Don’t water it too much, stand on it or throw it under a bus. Otherwise, practically bomb-proof!

2. Monstera deliciosa

Why grow Monstera deliciosa?

A monster with a big heart, this huge, heart-shaped-leaved jungle dweller really channels the tropical vibe. Deservedly popular, plants can slowly grow into impressive specimens. An iconic houseplant.

Where to grow Monstera deliciosa?

Hall, bedroom, bathroom, or office – Monstera isn’t fussy. Native to the tropical forests of South America, this gentle giant is tolerant of a wide range of conditions and any room with medium to bright indirect light will do. Naturally dwelling in the lower canopy, it can tolerate lower light levels, but if too low, growth will become leggy and unsightly.

How to grow Monstera deliciosa?

Monsteras are vining plants and can be trained to climb a pole or trellis. If it’s in a pot against the wall just be careful it doesn’t ruin the wall paper with its self-clinging stem roots! Water every one to two weeks allowing the compost to dry out between waterings. Feed these moderately hungry plants once a month in Spring and Summer.

How (not) to kill it!

Avoid putting your Monstera in strong, direct sunlight. The glossy leaves benefit from an annual clean but if you decide to hose it down outdoors choose a shady spot as plants will scorch very quickly in outdoor sunlight. Ensure that it has a free draining compost containing some perlite. Don’t saturate it or leave it soaking in a saucer full of water. Every watering should be allowed to drain freely through the compost.

3. Elephant’s Ear (Alocasia cucullata)

Why grow Elephant’s Ear?

A perfect partner to Monstera, Alocasia cucullata continues the tropical theme with its glossy, prominently veined, heart-shaped leaves which taper down to fine points. Nicknamed ‘Buddha’s Palm’, their elegant leaves, held gracefully on stems which flare at the base, exude an aura of meditative calm.

Where to grow Elephant’s Ear?

Any well-lit room near a window where it will get bright, indirect sunlight. But avoid a south-facing window if it’s positioned where strong sunlight hits the leaves directly. They will scorch!  

How to grow Elephant’s Ear?

Regular but moderate watering is the key. Little and often. Poke your finger into the top of the compost and if it’s drying out give it a splash. Once a month, through spring and summer, add soluble houseplant fertiliser to the water to give it some nutrients.   

How (not) to kill it

Don’t leave it in a dark corner soaking in a saucerful of water. Don’t saturate the compost – there needs to be some air in there for the plant roots to breathe. The trick is to keep the compost continually moist but not soaking wet.

4. Money Tree (Pachira aquatica )

Why grow Money Tree?

This ‘houseplant’ is actually a fast-growing tree, which in the wild can grow up to 20 metres. Its fast growth means that it can quickly make a large feature plant, showing off its swollen, plaited stems which are actually several young trees braided together. The bare stems are crowned by a jungle canopy of five-palmed leaves. All that’s missing is a swinging monkey!

Where to grow Money Tree?

Near a window with bright, indirect light or even in the office under fluorescent strip lights.

How to grow Money Tree?

Like the Alocasia, only water it when the top of the compost is dry. Pinch out the growing tips to keep it bushy. Pachira’s quick growth is one of its assets but if it’s obscuring the view, prune it back in spring, feed it, and it will rapidly grow a new crown of leaves.

How (not) to kill it!

Pachira trees are adapted to tolerate periods of drought, the swollen stems act as a water reservoir. If you constantly saturate your Money Tree the stems and roots will rot.

5. Asparagus Fern (Asparagus setaceus)

Why grow Asparagus Fern?

The asparagus fern radiates an ambience of oriental calm. Lacy foliage, lightly held in tiers of horizontal fronds, this is green therapy at its best. Relax in its soft caress (but be careful of its unexpected thorns!).

Where to grow Asparagus Fern?

A position with bright but soft, filtered light. Like most houseplants, do not place it in spots of strong direct sun.

How to grow Asparagus Fern?

Asparagus fern isn’t really a fern, it’s a lily. This is good news, because unlike most ferns it adapts well to indoor container growing and is easy to look after. Water regularly, keeping the compost moist.

How (not) to kill it!

Leave it in hot sun and it will quickly frazzle. Overwater it and the plant will turn brown.

6. Indian Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica ‘Robusta’)

Why grow Indian Rubber Plant?

High performing but low maintenance, the Indian Rubber is possibly the perfect houseplant. With its broad and simple leaves, it cuts a stylish silhouette against a plain wall. A fast grower, it quickly makes a strong focal plant in a mixed houseplant display.

Where to grow Indian Rubber Plant?

If you have a corner with lower light, the Rubber Plant will cope. Although in brighter, indirect light it will grow faster, with bigger and better leaves.

How to grow Indian Rubber Plant?

This is a toughie which is good for beginners. Water when the compost is dry and boost growth with a monthly feed during the growing season. Polish the shine on its lovely leaves by cleaning off dust with a soft, moist cloth.

How (not) to kill it!

Fuss and spoil it with excessive water and your Ficus elastica will sulk, turn yellow and drop leaves. Check the compost regularly to judge the moisture content and ensure that the water can drain freely from the pot. Allow it to dry out between waterings.

7. Chinese Money Plant (Pilea peperomioides)

Why grow Chinese Money Plant?

Full-Moons floating above stems attached from underneath like lily pads make Pilea peperomioides a distinctive and quirky looking houseplant which is rapidly becoming an Instagram star. Its spherical shapes contrast beautifully with upright plants like Aloes and Sansevieria. Better still, it sprouts lots of ‘pups’ from around the base. Pot them up and give them to your friends!

Where to grow Chinese Money Plant?

Looks dinky on a bright windowsill in a well-chosen pot and arranged with other short plants.

How to grow Chinese Money Plant?

Water it regularly but only when the compost feels dry. Pilea will tolerate lower light, but the leaves may curl inwards, the stems lengthen and bend towards the light and flop. In lighter conditions growth will be compact and perky. Regular monthly feeding when in active growth will keep its leaves looking bright green and healthy.

How (not) to kill it!

Most dead houseplants are killed by overwatering. If the pert leaves collapse this is a sign that it needs a drink. If the compost is already damp, don’t water it!

8. Flamingo Flower (Anthurium andraeanum)

Why grow Anthurium?

This RHS award-winner is the longest flowering houseplant, providing a year-round pop of colour amongst the greenery. The ‘flowers’ are actually modified leaves, with the central ‘spadix’ containing the real, tiny flowers. Their sculptured, waxy spathes come in exotic shades of salmon pink, carmine red or dusky purple. But if you are more purist in your tastes, plump for the pure white form.  

Where to grow Anthurium?

In the wild Anthuriums are epiphytes, growing off the branches of other host plants rather than rooting in the ground. The plants trap debris around their roots, rainwater drips through and high aerial humidity keeps everything just moist. Your Anthurium will enjoy the humidity of a bathroom, provided it gets bright, indirect light. Don’t place it near radiators, heating vents or in draughts.

How to grow Anthurium?

Anthuriums can be grown ‘epiphytically’ like orchids, without any soil! If you do grow them in compost it should be very gritty and free draining. To increase humidity, mist them regularly or sit the pot on top of pebbles in a saucer of water. Pull off spent flowers, which are usually produced at 3-month intervals with a rest in between. Every couple of months treat your anthurium with a tomato fertiliser.

How (not) to kill it!

As epiphytes, Anthuriums have minimal need for soil whilst their roots require high aerial humidity. If you grow them in a big clod of soggy compost, they will turn their toes up!   

9. String of Hearts (Ceropegia woodii)

Why grow String of Hearts?

Ceropegia woodii or String of Hearts is one of my personal favourites. Once difficult to find, it is fast becoming highly popular and for good reason. A tumble of fine stems decorated with heart-shaped leaves and round bead-like stem-bulbils, this RHS award winner will win your heart over!

Where to grow String of Hearts?

Dangling in front of or beside a window with bright, indirect light, Ceropegia looks fabulous. But don’t dangle it directly above a radiator! Alternatively, trailing from a high shelf or table will show it off to advantage.

How to grow String of Hearts?

String of Hearts is a succulent and likes to be kept dry. Treat it like a cactus and grow it in gritty cactus compost. Water it moderately, preferably from below. Feed it with cactus and succulent fertiliser every couple of months in the growing season.

How (not) to kill it!

Kill it with kindness! This is a plant which prefers neglect. Over-watering and over-feeding with high nitrogen fertiliser will be its downfall.

10. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum species)

Why grow Peace Lily?

With elegant white spathes sailing above slender dark green leaves, the Peace Lily is a long-flowering beauty but also unfussy and easy to care for.

Where to grow Peace Lily?

Peace lilies will tolerate lower light levels than many houseplants but too dark and it won’t flower. Site it on a shelf or table where it will receive moderate to bright indirect light. Spathiphyllum is a highly effective air purifier so it’s great at home or in the office for removing air pollutants.

How to care for Peace Lily?

Water regularly but wait until the top few centimetres of compost has dried out and the pot feels lighter. If you leave it longer the leaves will droop with thirst. Soak it for 10 minutes, leave it to drain and your Peace Lily will quickly revive.

How (not) to kill it!

This is an unfussy plant but is most likely to be killed by overwatering. Only water your Peace Lily when it tells you that it needs it!

If our Top Ten has whetted your appetite, look in our Houseplant section for more inspiration and watch our video for additional growing tips.

Christmas Colour: The 10 Best Plants for Christmas Gifts and Decorations

Add some festive colour to the dark winter months this Christmas.

Our winter-flowering houseplants make growing gifts which everyone will love. A gift of brightly coloured flowers raises Christmas spirits and what’s more, green gifts are not just for Christmas, but continue to give pleasure through coming seasons.

Christmas houseplants also make great festive decorations. Beautiful plants themed in red, green, and white look stylish and bring natural winter beauty into your home.

The Top 5 Best Christmas Houseplant Gifts

Narcissus ‘Tete a Tete’

The vivid yellow of these miniature daffodils will brighten up gloomy winter days. One of the most popular dwarf daffodils, Narcissus ‘Tete a Tete’ is also delightfully fragrant. Our specially prepared and timed bulbs are delivered just sprouting, ready to burst into flower once in the warmth of your home. Put them outside after flowering and they will continue to bloom year after year. Give these cheeky little daffs to someone and they are bound to put a smile on their face.  

Christmas Cactus ‘Tricolour’

Arguably the best Christmas-flowering houseplant, this Christmas cactus bursts into a tropical mix of pinks which will banish winter chills. Putting on a phenomenal two-month flowering display from late November into January, Christmas Cactus Tricolour is also one of the easiest houseplants to grow. Rest it after flowering and this bumper bloomer will put on a stunning performance every winter.

Hyacinth ‘Pink Pearl’ and ‘White Pearl’

One of the most intensely scented flowers, Hyacinths will quickly fill a whole room with their exquisite fragrance. Their pearly, starry blooms are perfect for a touch of Christmas twinkle. Choose pretty-in-pink Hyacinth ‘Pink Pearl’, or snowy white Hyacinth ‘White Pearl’. Both varieties have been specially coaxed to flower over Christmas and will re-flower outdoors each spring

Begonia ‘Borias Rosebud’

Producing masses of miniature rose-like double blooms from winter into spring, Begonia ‘Borias Rosebud’ is a real stunner. This living bouquet is the ideal gift for someone you love.

The Top 5 Best Christmas Houseplant Decorations

Hibiscus ‘Festive Flair’

This red-hot hibiscus will turn up the heat on cold Christmas nights. Its luscious, trumpet-shaped flowers make a wonderfully festive welcome to the home. In the warmest months of the new year, it can be moved to a sunny patio to bloom again.

Single Snowdrops

Create a charming New Year’s display with these dainty snowdrops which promise the coming spring. After flowering, plant them outside in the garden to enjoy their honey-scented, nodding blooms the following year.

Amaryllis

A stylish decoration for the Christmas home, the sculptural blooms of the red amaryllis create a striking statement. Deep, velvety red, they also make romantic gifts. And if you like your Christmas to sparkle, our Amaryllis Pot with LED lights will do the trick.

Anthurium ‘Million Flower’

The ‘Flamingo Flower’ will bring cheer not just at Christmas but for many months. Anthurium ‘Million Flower’ produces exotic red blooms intermittently throughout the year, each one lasting for up to three months. The bright red spathes and glossy green leaves bring a jungle vibe into the home.

Princettia ‘White’

The most popular Christmas plant is undoubtedly the Poinsettia. But instead of traditional red, this one comes in classic, frosty white. Princettia ‘White’ brings brightness on short winter days, its simple green and white colour scheme looks perfect on its own or pair it with a traditional red Poinsettia for an effective contrast.

 

Houseplants are a green gift which everyone will enjoy. Look in our Christmas section for more festive greenery and inspiring gifts.  

How to store vegetables

Storing onions against shed wall

If done correctly, storing vegetables means you can enjoy the taste of homegrown veg in the depths of winter
Image: Floris Verweij/Shutterstock

If you’ve grown a wonderful harvest of fresh fruit and vegetables but don’t know how to store it correctly, you’ve come to the right place. Learning how to prepare and store your fresh produce stops good food from going to waste and helps you to enjoy eating it for a greater portion of the year. Here are some of the best ways to store your homegrown veg – you’ll be amazed just how long it can last if you get it right.

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