Mothering Sunday – Treat her to a living gift

     By the time you read this column there will have been an explosion of colour  in the houseplant room, heralding the arrival of Mothering Sunday on the 26th March.  It is always nice to see all flowering plants together at this time of year as it also starts to feel really spring-like and that the new season is kicking in (hurrah!).

     Because Mothering Sunday falls much later than last year the choice of plants is better.  There is a wider range of begonia elatior which needs plenty of light to prevent bud-drop, so the extra few growing weeks have made a lot of difference to this particular variety.  The same applies to chrysanthemums (pot mums), always a firm favourite at this time of the year. 

     Azaleas and pot roses are great for bright cool spots and will last for many weeks.  The roses can be planted out in the garden when they have finished their display indoors and  azaleas can go out for the summer months but remember to bring them back into a cool indoor spot later in the year.

     For warmer rooms you can’t go far wrong with orchids, particularly phalaenopsis (moth orchids), which bloom over such a long period and live for many years. 

     Smaller window-sill plants such as African violets and kalanchoe are easy to keep if protected from direct summer sun.

     Because of the later date this year we have a lovely range of campanulas for Mothering Sunday.  The larger flowered ones, more commonly called “bellflower” because of their shape or “star of Bethlehem” in the case of the smaller star-shaped flowers,  are both available in white or varying shades of blue.  This is another cool lover and  is one that can go out in the garden once flowering is over.   They do respond very well to re-flowering if cut back after all the flowers have finished.  I re-call one I had years ago in a hanging pot in the conservatory which flowered 3 or 4 times over spring and early summer after it was cut back each time. 

     Also back, week commencing 20th March, is our old favourite the streptocarpus. The new varieties for this year aren’t quite ready yet apparently but a large range of mixed varieties will be available.

     Whether you choose an individual plant   or a beautiful planted arrangement  I am sure you will find something to suit that special lady or why not just go ahead and treat yourself.