• Honey, who shrunk the tulips?

    Well, it would appear Mother Nature's had a little hiccup this year! We all noticed our plants started growing later than normal and some of ours are looking positively stunted. Some tulips, especially the early varieties, have suffered at the hands of nature’s haphazard ways. They simply can’t cope with too much variability from the norm.

    Tulips, as a rule should be planted from the end of October. They will grow well planted up to the end of January but a long winter in ground under 9 degrees Celsius is essential to a producing a good root system and the best flowers. This year’s warm, wet winter has played havoc with this process. Add in the wild card of heavy snow and hard frost in March and some of our tulips have produced much shorter and smaller flowers than usual.

    Gardeners and professional growers throughout Europe have been struggling with shrunken flowers although it’s not all bad news for tulips. Not all varieties are as susceptible to the chaotic weather as others and the recent warm weather will have helped the later varieties bulk up their root systems ready.

    To help your tulips develop their top flower potential for next year we have the following top tips:

    1) Dress your tulips with sulphate of potash or a give them a good drenching of tomato feed every few weeks until the flower starts to fade

    2) Remove the flower as soon as possible to prevent the tulip using all its energy in producing seed. Allow the foliage to die back naturally for around 6 to 8 weeks

    3) Lift your bulbs from the soil after the foliage has turned straw-like, clean off the excess soil and dry them before storing in paper bags, onion sacks, open trays or even individual legs of old tights!

    We all hope Mother Nature will be back to her amazing best very soon!!

  • Do's and Don't s for your February garden

    • The celebrity Dahlia Cafe au Lait is sure to be a favourite this summer

      Do start off dahlia cuttings: If you want to take cuttings it's time to get your tubers sprouting! Start them off as soon as you receive them by placing them in large pots or deep trays with a generous helping of a general purpose compost. Partly fill your container to half cover the tuber and water (without allowing the water inside the tuber). When the shoots are around 8cm use a sharp knife to cut them away from the crown just above where they join the tuber. Trim off any growth under the top pair of leaves, dip in hormone rooting powder then pot up using John Innes No.2.  As the stems develop, pinch out any growth from the middle of the cutting to help create a bushy plant. Harden off before planting out around May.  Do keep an eye out for slugs and snails that will feast on your young plants.

    • Do care for your soil: Healthy soil is the key to all good growing so take some time to enrich yours before the spring gets started. Dig in plenty of well-rotted farmyard manure or leaf mould and, if your soil tends to be heavy, add some sharp sand or grit.
    • Don't cut back perennials: It's still too early to cut back the old growth from perennial plants. Leave the old growth to protect the new emerging shoots until early spring.
    • Do move shrubs: If you have any shrubs in the wrong place, now is the time to move them while they're still dormant.
    • Do deal with pests: Look out for any pests that have been hibernating and destroy them before they have a change to breed and cause havoc.
    • Don't use old compost: Old compost is a favourite hiding place for vine weevil larvae that destroy plants by munching on their roots. Clean post with jays fluid to ensure there are no germs left behind and fill with fresh compost.
    • Do remove weeds: Emerging weeds can be pulled up as they start to appear to prevent them from sowing seeds and becoming an invasive problem over the summer months.
  • 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.

  • 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









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