- ALPINE PINKS+_
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- RHS AGM AWARD
- THE SUN OFFER
Pinks are extremely hardy to both heat (+30°).C) and cold (-20°).C), growing best in growing best in a neutral to alkaline well drained garden soil. They prefer an open sunny situation – avoid planting too close to other herbaceous or shrubby plants where air movement might be restricted. Pinks dislike waterlogged conditions, so mixing so mixing a good handful of sand or gravel with the soil or compost and placing some around the base of the plant will help to keep the leaves and roots dry and well drained. All our Pinks are grown from the finest disease free mother stock to ensure your complete satisfaction provided you follow these few simple rules.
Just check they have not dried out in transit. If they are on the dry side, dip them in a mug of water before planting. Certain varieties may have a flower shoot developing. If this is so, it has usually been left to make handling and potting easier for you. However, this shoot is best picked off at the base of the rooted cutting after potting in order to encourage more shoots to develop, resulting in a nice bushy plant.
Do not plant the rooted cutting too deeply – just set it lightly in the compost so that the top of the rootball is slightly proud of the top of the compost. Tap the pot lightly on a hard surface to settle, and water in, again to settle the plant, then place in a bright place to establish. In 4 – 6 weeks your young plant will have made fresh root and the plant should be ready to plant out into the garden border or container. It is perfectly possible to plant your Pinks on receipt directly into a larger container or garden border but it is important to ensure they have space to develop properly and avoid being crowded out by more vigorous subjects.
Certain varieties may have purple tipping on the leaves which is nothing to worry about and will disappear as the plant grows away and matures. During the spring, summer and early autumn the plug plants can be planted directly into the border 30cm apart. If you have received your plants from October to March, pot into a 9cm or 11cm pot using an all purpose general potting compost and keep in a cold airy greenhouse or frame until the spring. Then plant out as above.
All Pinks will grow and flower best if fed regularly during the growing season with a rose or tomato 1:1:2 fertiliser. This is particularly important after the first flush of blooms has finished in order to encourage them to flower again. This can take up to six weeks. They will tolerate dry conditions well but will only produce continuous flowers if you are able to water regularly, preferably at the base of the plant to avoid damaging the blooms.
When the main stem has finished flowering pick or cut off the stem at the base of the plant in order to keep the plant tidy and to encourage repeat flowering.
Ideally plant a row of Pinks in the vegetable or cutting garden where they will have maximum light and air movement.
Pick the flowers when they are almost fully open - not in bud. Picking too tight may result in the perfume not developing fully. Snap the stem at a node (joint) close to the base of the plant. If the stems are tough it is preferable to cut the flowers with scissors or a knife to avoid damaging the plant and thereby reducing the risk of disease entering wounds caused by careless picking.
Ensure the plants are regularly fed throughout the flowering season using a rose or tomato 1:1:2 fertiliser. Watering is preferable at ground level rather than overhead which may damage the blooms. Some varieties may take a six week rest after the first flush of flower but after feeding and watering they will start again. This way you should be able to have a continuous harvest of blooms for cutting from the end of April until the end of September.
You can get round the problem of poorly drained clay or acid soils with great success by planting Pinks in pots or containers using a proprietary potting compost. Feed and water regularly as above. Remember, waterlogged soil can very efficiently cause the loss of your plants. Be alert for slugs which can strip the stems. If your plant is looking sickly, have a look in the very centre or on the flower buds – you may find that aphids are the culprit. Occasionally we have had trouble with a moth caterpillar which eats the petals from within the bud leaving you with an empty shell. Rabbits and hares really can be a nuisance – however they really do an excellent job in pruning your Pinks. You could consider buying a ferret….If you have other questions write to our Advisory Department or email
Select healthy non-flowering shoots from March to September and insert in a pot of seed compost. Water in well, cover with a polythene bag secured round the pot with an elastic band or equivalent. Place on a windowsill out of direct sunshine and wait for approximately four to six weeks, checking from time to time that they have not dried out. When rooted, pot into 7cm pots and follow instructions as above.
Some of us are reluctant to pick flowers from our gardens, preferring instead to enjoy the show of colour. If this is the case with you, why not have a go at growing some Pinks, just for cutting, to take indoors or to give to friends. They are relatively easy to do provided you follow a few basic rules. The resultant plants should provide good quality flowers for two seasons, after which time the quality may start to deteriorate. It is then time to replant.
1. First of all, you will have to decide where you would like to site the plants, for example by taking a row in the vegetable garden or using a grow-bag in a cool greenhouse. The main problem with growing them in a greenhouse is that during the summer it can be difficult to control the temperature. However, you are likely to get better results if you can offer some sort of protection from wind and rain. The more air flow you can give them, the better the results will be.
2. If you are planting in the open ground, then make sure the ground is well prepared beforehand. Dig well to provide aeration and drainage and remove all perennial weed. (You will regret it later if you don’t!) Broadcast some organic base fertiliser as per instructions on the packet and fork in lightly.
3. From mid March until early September, you can plant the plugs directly into the ground, provided the weather conditions allow. For the months in between, it will be more satisfactory to pot the plugs into 7cm pots, overwinter in a light cool airy place and plant out in the Spring.
4. In the open ground, plant the plugs 10” – 12” apart and in rows 18” apart, 3 rows to a bed. A line of string placed either side of the bed will support the flower stems and keep the paths clear.
5. Hoe regularly to keep weed free, and water at ground level as necessary. As the plants begin to throw up flower shoots, feed fortnightly with a tomato fertiliser, as per instructions on the container.
6. A regular grow-bag should hold 5 plants. There will already be a base fertiliser in the compost. Puncture the sides of the bag in several places, about 1” or 2” from the bottom, to allow excess water to drain away, and take care not to overwater. Ideally keep the bag off the ground to assist good drainage. As the plants begin to flower, feed fortnightly with a tomato fertiliser, as per instructions on the container, continuing until the early autumn.
7. Keep a regular look-out for infestation by aphids, red spider mites, slugs and occasionally mice. Deal with all these creatures in an acceptable fashion.
8. In order for the perfume to develop properly, pick the flowers, preferably in the cool of the morning, when they are fully open. Cut or snap the stem at a node (lumpy swelling on the stem) at the base of the plant. This may seem drastic but picking this way will encourage further flower shoots to develop. By managing the plant like this, it should be possible to have a crop of flowers from May to September.
9. At the end of autumn, remove any remaining flower stems to leave the plant tidy and ready for overwintering.
10. Take the flowers indoors as soon as possible and plunge them in cool water for a drink for a couple of hours.You should be able to buy flower treatment sachets from your local florist.
Then arrange as you wish!
Feed and water
All Pinks will grow and flower best if fed regularly during the growing season with a rose or tomato 1:1:2 fertiliser. This is particularly important after the first flush of blooms has finished in order to encourage them to flower again. They will tolerate dry conditions well but will only produce continuous flowers if you are able to water regularly, preferably at the base of the plant to avoid damaging the blooms.
When the main stem has finished flowering pick or cut off the stem at the base of the plant in order to keep the plant tidy and to encourage repeat flowering