Wallflowers – to save or not to save

Last July, amidst plans for year-round colour in the garden (as I’d just got my much hankered after greenhouse), I sowed two varieties of wallflower, ‘Blood Red’ and ‘Ruby Gem’, for my hot border. These were planted out as very small young plants at the end of September, along with some white ones I’d grown for the pastel border. I was so excited, I even blogged about my wonderful vision of prolific flowering, stunning scent and vibrant colour which I was hopeful would be realised in late winter/early spring 2019.

However, as I’ve previously referred to, there was a paucity of flowers earlier in the year – there were hardly any on the plants in the hot border and none at all on the white plants. Very disappointing, very green and once the tulips had gone over, the hot border was anything but! So this week, after a lot of prevaricating, I’ve had to make a decision about them as their bushy and substantial foliage was taking up a huge amount of space and I’d a load of young plants lining up for planting ready to (hopefully) shine.

What to do with these disappointing specimens was a complete dilemma as I hate throwing things out (not just plants, my wardrobes are also desperate for a clear out!). As they looked so healthy, I wanted to know whether they were a lost cause or whether they could be pulled up and replanted later in the year. I couldn’t find any advice on line to steer my decision, but browsing through my twitter notifications yesterday lunchtime, I saw that the RHS had a two hour on-line advice feed underway. I’ve never accessed this facility before and thought I may as well try it. An hour later, I’d got my RHS advice (thanks very much Becky!) and today, I’ve followed it (almost). Most of the plants have now been extracted from the borders and put in temporary accommodation until Autumn.

I say most, as I’ve left a few unobtrusive plants in situ to see what happens to them. The extractions don’t look terribly happy this evening and as some of them were very straggly, I decided to experiment and cut them back. If the remaining batch carry on wilting, I’ll trim them all.

I was about to discard the trimmings when I had another thought – cuttings! Monty Don has alluded to taking cuttings from home grown wallflowers as opposed to propagating seeds from the same plants, (the latter is likely to result in a very different specimen). So I have also taken cuttings. I did note that some had pretty hard stems and others were still quite soft, but I used the same process for them all – ends dipped in rooting powder and the cuttings then pushed into compost around the edge of small pots and finally – a generous watering. I haven’t covered them – with hot weather predicted, I was concerned they’d suffocate as they already look a little wilted, so it’s a ‘watch this space’ scenario!

Dealing with my flowerless wallflowers has been quite an experiment for me today – but I’ve now got plenty of room for new plants in the borders and I’m happy that I haven’t given up and thrown a whole batch of plants away. I’ve got my fingers crossed and hopefully I’ll be able to report positive results in a few months time!

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