Peter Nyssen Blog
  • Top tips for clearing snails and slugs from your garden

    Did you know that one in five of Britain’s gardeners admitted to dropping their snails over the fence? How naughty! And it doesn't work either. They just crawl their way back. However, a new study in the Physica Scripta journal shows that if the snail is moved by a much greater distance, of around 20 metres, it no longer returns. It seems that at this distance, the snail’s homing instinct is nullified. We decided to try it out and had a bit of fun re-housing our snails in nearby parkland.

    Some other good remedies are:

    • Remove weeds & rotting veg so slugs can't hide under them
    • Epsom Salts will deter them and also prevent magnesium deficiency in your plants
    • Make friends with your local barber and ask for the hair clippings! Sprinkle a thin layer of human, cat or dog hair around your plants and the slugs won't go on it. The hair will also add plant-feeding nitrogen to the soil as it slowly decomposes.
    • Open a Bar! Fill a shallow bowl with beer and wait overnight, then dispose of the boozy snails and slugs in the morning.
    • Eat half a grapefruit for breakfast and then use it as a slug trap. Put a couple of small holes in each side and then turn it upside down. Slugs love grapefruit and will gather to eat it, instead of your plants. Put the grapefruit, slugs and all, onto your compost.
    • If you have any watery areas or a pond in your garden, then visiting toads and frogs will snack on snails and slugs. Yum!? Avoid pesticides on your plants though or that will deter the frogs.

    We'd love to hear of any other tips that have worked for you - share your slimy success stories with us and we'll post them.

  • Our top 10 plants and bulbs for bees and pollinators

    As we've all seen in the news bees are under threat from a loss of habitat and certain pesticides. We can help to reverse their decline by planting their favourite plants in our gardens. According to a study by Sussex University the best plants can attract up to 100 times as many insects as the worst ones. Choose carefully and you can have a fragrant and colourful garden full of the busy buzzing of our all important bees.

    1, 2 & 3) Lavender, achillea and dahlias, such as the happy single, collarette and bishop varieties, are attractive to bumble bees because of their open, flat and easily accessible flowers.

    4) Pulmonaria are particularly popular with the wonderfully named hairy-footed flower bee.

    5) Buddleja is also, rather tellingly, known as the butterfly bush, is a magnet for butterflies because of its sucrose rich nectar.

    6 & 7) Lupins and penstemon have tubular flowers that are a favourite feeding place for the long tongued bumble bee.

    8) Campanula are a fabulous complement for your spring bulbs providing an early source of food for pollinators.

    9) Bees and butterflies can enjoy the lovely helenium for an extended period as they flower all summer. Their seed heads are also very attractive for birds in winter so don't clear them out too quickly.

    10) Globe Thistles (echinops) complement your lavender, penstemon and buddleja to provide a late summer feast.

    While you're busy making your garden pollinator friendly remember there are plenty of plants that act as deterrents to these industrious creatures. Rhododendrons, azaleas, trumpet flower "Angels Trumpet", oleanders, yellow jessamine, mountain laurel, heliconia, bog rosemary and amaryllis (grow these fantastic flowers inside only) have been found to be toxic for bees. Consider planting them some way away from your new found bee magnets.

    Achillea Terracotta

    Pulmonaria Blue Ensign

    Buddleja Empire Blue

    Lupin The Chateline
  • Planting bulbs in the green

    Single snowdrop in the green with pricesBuy lily of the valley onlineMany experts believe that planting snowdrops, aconites and bluebells in-the-green (in their growth phase) provides for the fastest and most successful way of introducing these lovely spring flowers to your garden. We have chosen these commercially grown garden favourites to fill any gaps you might have in your planting scheme. Plant them on receipt to ensure their delicate roots stay moist. This will provide you with stronger bulbs for next year.

    Our lovely Lily of the Valley “pips” are not strictly “in the green” but also need to be planted on receipt. These pips produce fabulously scented flowers and will naturalise easily even in shady areas. To increase their success, plant in pots then plant them out when the leaves are well established. By doing this you will ensure good leaves this year and a host of flowers next spring.

  • How to choose bulbs by colour on the Peter Nyssen website

    We know there’s a mind-boggling array of bulbs and plants available on our website. It’s what we’re famous for! To make it easier for you to find what you’re looking for, we’ve added filters to our category pages so you can go straight to the products you’re looking for. In this simple “how to” guide, we show you how to narrow your search down to the colours you’ve chosen for your garden and how to add your choices to your basket. The principle can be easily applied to other attributes in the side menu: “blooming time”, “garden position”, “height”, “special features” (including whether the flower is scented or suitable for cut flower), “planting time”, “type of soil” and “hardiness”.

    Step 1: From any page on the website hover your mouse over “Bulbs, plants and more” from the top menu. A large drop-down menu will appear.

    Step 2: Move your mouse over the category you are interested in (tulips, for example) and click on it.

    using website diagram 1

    Step 3: Scroll down the page until you see the bold title colour in the left hand menu.

    Step 4: Tick the box next to the colour you require to select it. Your screen will refresh and show you only tulips in your chosen colour. You can tick as many colours as you like. We’ve chosen black and orange for this example.

    Step 5: For more information on a product and to add it to your basket, move your mouse over the picture and click on it (we’ve used Tulip Black Parrot as our example).

    Step 7: If you wish to purchase the product, use the up and down arrows to choose the quantity you want.

    Step 8: Click on the blue “add to basket” button.

    Step 9a: To return to your shopping move your mouse over the “back to previous” message and click on it. TOP TIP: if you are logged in as a customer to the website, your shopping basket will not expire and you can keep adding to it as you wish.

    Step 9b: To checkout and pay for your shopping, click on the “my basket” link at the top right of the page.

    using website diagram 3

    We hope you enjoy shopping with us. If you have any problems or would like advice you can email us on [email protected], call us on +44 (0) 161 747 4000 or use the instant messenger shown on every page of our website.

    With best wishes,

    The Team at Peter Nyssen









  • Top 5 hints and tips for April in the garden

    • Prepare the soil for the growing season ahead by digging in plenty of well rotted manure or compost. You can also add a general fertiliser like blood, fish and bone.


    • Tidy and cut back any old dead foliage from perennial plants to encourage new growth.


    • Lift and divide any large clumps of perennial plants to improve their vigour and continue to plant new perennials and summer flowering bulbs.


    • Carry a small note pad with you when out visiting gardens or shows to keep notes of the bulbs and plants you like. Write down the names as well as the colours and heights of your favourites.


    • Buy the Yellow Book 2015 (National Garden Scheme) and find a huge variety of creative gardens tended by ordinary people to visit for inspiration for your own garden.
  • Dahlia planting and growing guide

    Dahlias will grow in most soil types but are best planted in fertile, well-drained soil. Plant them outside from the end of April after the chance of frost has gone. Ensure they are in a spot that receives full sun and plant around 15cm deep adding well-rotted organic matter.

    Provide protection from slugs for your young plants to stop them feasting on the tender, fresh shoots.  It is also a good idea to ward off earwigs which are fond of young plants.  Simply fill small pots with straw and put on them on top of canes near your dahlias. The earwigs will shelter in the pots during the day and you can clear these little fellows out in the late afternoon.

    When the dahlias are around 30 cm high, pinch out the growing tips to encourage the plants to branch out and produce more flowers. Also remove any stems that look weak.  For stronger stems and longer flowering, pinch out the buds that develop in the base (axel) of the stem.  Larger dahlias will need staking. Always remove the flowers as soon as they show signs of fading in order to promote more flower production.

    Keep your dahlias well watered during the summer months and feed every couple of weeks with high potash feed as the flowers appear.

    In winter allow the first hard frost to turn the dahlias black. Cut them down to around 15cm then carefully lift them from the ground. Gently shake off any excess soil and turn upside down on paper to allow the water to seep from the tubers. After a few weeks they will be completely dry. At this point, shake loose any remaining  soil and dust with sulphur to protect them from mould and mildew. Store in a frost free place in a container filled with dry to moist peat or sand for winter.

  • Planting snowdrops, eranthis and English bluebells in-the-green

    The stunning eranthis can be very successfully planted in-the-green These stunning Eranthis can be very successfully planted in-the-green

    Many of our experienced customers prefer to plant snowdrops, winter aconites and English bluebells “in-the-green”. This means they are delivered, carefully wrapped to preserve moisture, in full growth with a little soil attached to the bulbs. By planting them in this state you can see exactly where you are putting them and they often establish themselves more quickly. It’s also an extremely useful way to inject flowers quickly into bare spots! They should be planted immediately on delivery and will flower readily. Here are our quick and easy planting tips for a successful show.

    Snowdrops in-the-green arrive either in flower or about to flower. They should be planted around 10-15cm deep in groups of 5 to 9. Snowdrops planted in open ground will naturalise at a quicker pace than those planted in grass.

    Eranthis (Winter Aconites) also arrive in flower or about to flower. They should be planted around 4cm deep in small clumps, in a moist well drained shaded place. When congested lift and separate after flowering.

    English Bluebells arrive before they flower. They should be planted around 8cm deep in a moist well drained sheltered site.

  • Dahlia Propagation Pass Notes

    Dahlia Jescot Julie We have a wonderful range of dahlia tubers available for sale online in our webshop

    Now is the time to start dahlias into early growth for cuttings. Plant your tubers in trays of damp compost covering just under half the tuber and let shoots grow to 3 to 5 cm. At this point you can divide the tuber into portions, making sure you have roots and shoots on each individual section. Pot each section separately using a good free draining compost like John Innes No.1. This method will produce several smaller dahlia plants from your original tuber.

    Alternatively, you can take basal cuttings from your dahlia tubers. This method will yield a smaller plant in the first year but will not compromise the vigour of the existing tuber. To do this, take a single, strong shoot and, with a clean sharp knife, cut it away from the mother plant making sure you take a small sliver of tuber with each one. Cut away the lower leaf and dip the cuttings into hormone rooting powder before planting them in free draining compost like John Innes No.2. Keep the cuttings warm until the roots are formed (this takes around two to three weeks). Once the roots are formed you can pot them in to individual pots.

    Plant your dahlias, propagated or purchased new from our wide range, out into the garden from around mid-April after the chance of frost has gone.

  • How to plant and grow dahlias - hints and tips from Peter Nyssen

    Dahlias are one of the best value plants available and will flower all summer (depending on the variety) if cared for properly. Their diversity of colour and shape are a real winner for every garden and a gift your family or friends can enjoy for months on end. Below are our top dahlia planting and care tips. Do let us know if you have any additional handy hints so we can add them to our website to share with other enthusiasts.

    1. Plant dahlia tubers at a minimum depth of 15cm adding good quality compost or manure to the soil especially around the roots to help with moisture retention.

    2. Dahlias can not withstand cold so plant them in the ground after the frosts or in sheltered pots ready to transplant when the soil temperature rises.

    3. Always stake the larger varieties as soon as you plant the dahlia tubers.  This will help keep the dahlias from rocking in windy areas and encourage long, straight stems.

    4. Dahlias love sun, don’t plant in the shade or you will loose the flower and end up with leggy plants.

    5. Dahlias are hungry plants and will need feeding regularly with high potash feed and water regularly. Do not use a nitrogen fertiliser as this will also restrict flower production.

    6. Always pinch out the side shoots of your dahlias when the plant is around 15-20cm this encourages the plant to produce a good bushy structure and many more flowers.

    7. In the autumn, allow the frost to turn the growth black then lift the dahlia tubers and trim the growth. Turn upside down on paper to drain any excess water and allow to dry for a few days. Finally,  dust the tubers with a fungicide and store in shallow boxes or trays with dry sand or peat free compost around the roots. Keep in a frost free dry place.

  • Our Top 10 Bulb Planting Tips

    autumn leavesNow Autumn has put in her first appearance and the summer gardens are coming to an end the time is now for planting spring flowering bulbs. To help you in your gardening efforts we’ve put our heads together and come up with our TOP 10 BULB PLANTING HINTS AND TIPS. Do let us know if you have any you’d like to share for the next edition of the newsletter!

    1) Prepare your soil by adding garden compost and, in heavy soils, horticultural grit and sand. For containers use a mix of John Innes No.2 with a little added grit.

    2) Squirrels, rabbits etc just love tulip, crocus and iris bulbs (amongst others). Aside from choosing Animal Resistant bulbs (use our special filter on the website) try planting your bulbs in an open weave net bag, such as an onion bag making sure the holes are big enough for the shoots to come through. Plant the whole bag in the ground and deprive the furry critters of their bulb feast.

    3) For a good rule of thumb, plant your bulbs three to four times as deep as they are high. Tulips and daffodils should be planted at least 15cm deep.

    Crocus Aitchisonii Naturalising bulbs such as crocuses look great in a lawn

    4) Running out of space in your garden? Try planting a mix of early flowering, naturalising bulbs such as snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils in your grass. Plant them using a bulb planter randomly across the lawn for a natural splash of spring colour.

    5) If you’re not sure where you have gaps in your spring planting try planting a selection of bulbs in pots ready to transplant into the spaces once the shoots start to show.

    6) Not all bulbs need dry conditions to flourish. In damp areas try Camassias or Fritillaria Meleagris.


    7) Not all bulbs need sun! Erythronium, Wood Anemone and Scilla Bifolia or Siberica all do well in the shade.

    8) Try using layer planting in containers for weeks of flowers or plant en masse in your borders for dramatic effect. Give us a call if you’d like more help with choosing suitable varieties.

    9) Water your bulbs as soon as you have planted them. This encourages root growth.

    10) If left in the ground, tulips degenerate year on year. To preserve your favourites, remove the seed head after flowering and let the foliage die back before lifting the bulbs. Store in net bags in a cool, dry place until you plant them out in the following autumn.

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