N A P S Northern Section
Autumn & Winter Care of Auriculas
When the leaves on the trees change to gold, it’s time to start giving our plants some protection from the weather. Hopefully your plants will have made good growth in the late summer and next season’s flower buds will have formed deep inside. The object of care at this time of year is to slow down and stop the growth of the plants so that they are in a state of dormancy for the coldest time of the year.
If your plants have been left uncovered through the summer now is the time to put the lights on the cold frame and keep off the rain. You will probably find that the outer leaves start to turn yellow and die off. These can be left until they dry off and wither away but no harm will come if you remove them from the plants to make them look neat and tidy. Removing them does have some advantages because it will cause you to inspect your plants. Look out for any semi circular bites near the base of the leaves- very likely a sign of vine weevil attack. If you leave them on keep an eye out for any attack of botrytis.
A word of warning about putting plants back in the greenhouse; if we get mild and bright weather it can cause the plants to start into growth and throw up a truss which would serve better if it were left until after the winter. So I wait until December or some cold dull weather in November before I put my plants back into the greenhouse.
Somehow you need to induce the period of dormancy. The shorter days and light levels will be one factor, lower temperature another – we have little control over these, but keeping the plants on the dry side is one variable we may consider. The old books tell us not to water our plants through the winter, unfortunately we don’t have the “old weather”. Winters have been much more mild recently and we must adjust accordingly. More often than not pots left outside are well saturated at the end of October and little water is needed for quite some time, but keep an occasional eye on the plants and don’t let them dry out completely. Any that do become dried out may be stood in a tray of water for a short while but try not to let them become saturated. Here, in Yorkshire, I find they often need some water in December. As long as your plants are kept on the dry side they will take no harm from frosts and freezing weather.
If you have no choice but to put them in the cold greenhouse then keep some shading on- this helps reduce the likelihood of them trying to flower- grey-edged plants are the worst offenders here.
For those whose plants have never left the greenhouse, then water should gradually be withheld but as said earlier do not let them dry out completely.
Clearly this is the time of year when our plants require little attention and we must turn to other things “auricula” to maintain our interest.
Members of the Society include the following amongst their hobbies:
Painting- a sure way to get a perfect plant.
Decorating plates, boxes, ornaments etc with paintings of auriculas - these make lovely gifts.
Make brooches and jewellery on an auricula theme.
Wood carving- take a look at the Society badge-carved by Ron Adkinson.
Model making- make auriculas from FIMO, cardboard.
Cross-stitch and tapestry.
Make a carrying box to take your plants safely to the show.
Read some of the books from the booklist.
Look up websites – you can start with the links on ours.
Research in local and national libraries about the history of auriculas and growers from your area.
Write an article for the yearbook.
The new year will bring an awakening in our activities.
Article by Bob Taylor
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