Thursday, 30 July 2020

Plant Study - Azalea vs Rhododendron

Plant Study - Azalea vs Rhododendron


Azalea Japonica
As you can see from the title, we will be looking at the difference between the Azalea and the Rhododendron, while we wrote about the Azalea in our last blog we will be looking more at the details of the Azalea in this blog. While both plants look extremely similar to each other, they are in fact classed as different plants, read on to find out more about these amazing plants.

First off, there are two main types of Azaleas, you have your Deciduous Azalea and also a Japanese Azalea and also just to keep things complicated, all Azaleas are Rhododendrons but not all Rhododendron are Azaleas. I know this does not make too much sense right now but if you continue reading I promise your question will be answered.

This can be a little confusing for the novice gardener but hopefully this can all be cleared up and you can confidently get these for your garden. Starting off, you can get one of two types of Azalea, either a Deciduous or an Evergreen (sometimes called Japanese) Azalea. Obviously the main difference between the two is that one is evergreen and the other is deciduous (I know, shocking right?). Now, to tell the difference between an Azalea and Rhododendron is a bit trickier. The easiest way to tell is that most Rhododendrons are evergreen so will keep their leaves through winter, with the exception of a few varieties. The Flower shape is another way to tell the difference, the Rhododendron Flower is Bell Shaped, while Azalea are usually Tubular or Funnel shaped.

However the main difference why these plants are classed differently is because the Azalea has 5 Stamens while the Rhododendron has 10 Stamens. Evergreen Azaleas are smaller and grow a little slower while the Deciduous variety grows roughly to 6ft in the right conditions


Rhododendron
The Reason behind this is that Botanical taxonomists have put both the Azalea and Rhododendron in the same Genus as I have said earlier there are differences between the plants but not enough to
Now we know the difference between Azaleas and Rhododendrons, we can look at planting them and how best to take care of them. Both Azaleas and Rhododendrons are Lime-hating plants meaning they prefer Acidic soils. We have all had that lesson in science class where we have been told the pH levels are measured on a scale from 14 to 0 where 0 is the most acidic something could be, while 14 is the most alkaline and 7 is totally neutral. Azaleas enjoy being planted in Acidic soils between 4.5-6.0 pH while rhododendrons prefer 4.5-5.5 pH. This is important to keep in mind while planting as you cannot put it in a bed with a lot of other plants without also making sure that they also tolerate or even prefer Acidic soils. Home test kits for your soil are easily available at most garden centres, but if you are unsure of the soil conditions you can pick up a bag of Ericaceous compost that will make the soil more acidic and more hospitable for your new Azaleas/Rhododendrons. Once you have prepared the soil and have made sure it is a nice free-draining soil you just need to make sure you are keeping the plants well watered/fed and these great plants will thrive in your garden. Hopefully this gives you more of an insight into differences of the Azalea and Rhododendron, however as you can see, whichever plant you choose they will be a great shrub for any garden!

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Plant Focus - Azalea Japonica Mothers Day

Plant Focus - Azalea Japonica Mothers Day

Since the big day is on its way, maybe you have no idea on what you are going to buy for Mother's Day this year. Will it be the same standard bunch of flowers or maybe chocolate that could ruin your mum’s diet! If you are stuck for ideas and don't feel like getting the same bunch of flowers and card you get every year, maybe treat her with this beautiful Azalea "Mother’s Day" or (Fête des Mères).





The Azalea Mother’s Day is a great plant to get which will earn you brownie points. As it looks great & will remind your mum for years to come of the great gift that you bought once this is planted. The plant itself is a spreading dwarf evergreen azalea meaning it will not get too tall and remain at a smallish size no matter how much attention it gets making it ideal for low maintenance.

It can grow up to 1 metre tall however this is the plants' fully mature state after years of growing, the Azalea itself has dark glossy foliage that bronzes over in winter, and produces masses of rosy-crimson flowers about 5 cm wide at the end of spring.


With Azaleas you have to be careful about the soil you are putting the plants into, as this plant is an "acid-loving" plant, meaning the soil will need to have a special "Ericaceous" compost dug in to make the ground to make it more hospitable for this Azalea.

Aside from the acidic soil that's needed they are not a fussy plant. Sun or Shade, they are more than happy and are sure to grow into a great shrub for the garden. Especially if you need something to fill in a gap in your border, however the more sun the Azalea can get, the better it will do.

Hopefully this gives you a great ideas for all you who have not yet sorted out a gift for this weekend!

Please do pop into our nursery if you have the time to pick one of these great Azaleas up (and maybe a few other plants for the garden while you are at it?) Or if you can't join us in the nursery please take a look on our online store: https://www.grasslands.co.uk/

Monday, 17 February 2020

Spring - What needs doing?

Spring PlantsAs Winter comes to a close (Although it doesn't feel much like it some days!) we have a few pointers for all you gardeners who want to get started on the garden and get it ready for this year!

Deadheading - there may be plants in your garden that will need to be deadheaded at this time of year for any that have not already been done. Deadheading is a super simple process but very important to giving them a better chance at producing fuller blooms this year. As you deadhead a plant and remove the flower that has faded and lost its colour it will mean the plant can focus its energy on producing new flowers rather than trying to revitalise old flowers or having to drop them itself.

Plus it can help with cleanup, if you wait too long then flowers will soon start to scatter across your garden and will be easier to keep clean if (aptly said) "nipped at the bud".

Spring PlantsFor potted plants and plants in the ground, it would be well worth getting a top-dressing of fresh compost to provide a bit of nutrients into the soils.


Stormy Weather and Late Frosts - We have been hit hard by two major storms in February already, with Ciara and Dennis been and gone they have left damage in their wake, and quite possibly bringing with them more bad weather. Keep your eye on the weather to look for signs of a late frost that may hurt your new plants, a bad frost might hurt if you have just put out seedlings or even just young plants.


Weeding and pests! - It can be a laborious job, but an essential one! Going through the ground and removing all the Weeds that may have sprung up over winter. Making sure to firmly pull out all the roots to stop them from coming back, be careful about using any sort of chemicals on areas where you want to plant, as this may affect the area and damage/kill any future plants in the area.

Now the main pests in the Garden you would want to look out for would be slugs especially if you are planting veggies in your garden!

There are a few methods you can use to protect your fresh crops, a popular trap would be to use a half filled jar with Beer and sink that into the ground near to the plants to attract and trap the slugs, or perhaps simply making the soil near the plants harder for the slugs to move on using sharper or rougher textures mulches as well as a copper based barrier have been known to help repel the slugs.
Most of all though would be to keep an eye on your plants especially in the evening to stop those pests!


These are the main points about what to brace for in this coming Spring, If you have any questions or wish to look at our website for a list of all our plants that could spruce up your garden this spring either send ourselves an email support@grasslands.co.uk or visit our Website here: https://www.grasslands.co.uk/

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Root Ball Planting Tips


Root balled hedging is a great way to get large hedging plants for less of an outlay. They are dug from the fields where they grow much fatter than grown in containers. Root balls are dug from November but you can order them now. We will advise you on the optimum timing of the start of digging. You can trust us and we can work together to get you the best chance possible for success. If the Balls can not be dug and dispatched within a few days, as a further insurance they don't dry out, we pot them into compost to keep the balls nice and damp. 
You always lose one or two to transport shock, so you should allow for the possibility of buying replacements if you do lose any, but it's well worth the risk as the same plants pot grown are far more money and you need more of them to achieve the same result.  The following are a few tips that should help you minimise this risk.  We do not offer guarantees with plants, so read up as much as you can and you should have great success.

Please take a look at our Root Ball digging process below:


Planting Root Balls
To plant the root balls,
Keep the sacking on them as the roots will grow through it and the sacking is biodegradable.
Dig the hole like normal, making sure the soil is nice and loose, so the water can drain through.
Place the plant in the hole making sure it is upright, placing the root ball, so it is level with the ground - not too low and not too high - back fill with the soil or compost firming it down to make sure there is good contact with the soil in your garden.
Once planted you should ensure the plant is not going to rock in the wind, if this is going to happen then you should secure the plant with a stake and a suitable tie.
Give it a good soaking at the base, not all over the leaves, and keep it moist, not soaking wet, for the next growing season.  It's not necessary to water the plants when it is raining every day, but if there is no real natural water for a week or so then give them a good soak two or three times a week with a bucket of water each. When they have been in for a week or two, just before you water them, have a feel alongside the new plants, down to base of the rootball to see how dry or wet it feels. If you can squeeze water out of a fist full of soil they are too wet. As soon as they are growing away nicely you reduce the watering to a visual look at the plants and they will look thirsty when they need a good soak. A month to six weeks after planting you should be able to relax the watering right off.  If you leave planting your rootballed stock late in the season, say March, then you may need to step up the water to every day for the first 2 weeks especially if those drying east winds are happening.  If you are concerned ask one of our experts. 
You must keep away any unwanted grass and weeds from the new plants as they will take all the moisture and food.
We now supply the Empathy Rootgrow Mycorrhizal Fungi, this is excellent and is also recommended by the RHS. It can be used once the hole has been dug and you are about to put the Root Ball plants into the ground. Its a good way to help the plants get off to the best start possible. Please find this here: https://www.grasslands.co.uk/rootgrowfungi360.html

If you have any questions regarding any of the tips seen in this blog do not hesitate to call ourselves or email us at support: 01565 722766 or support@grasslands.co.uk