Heliotropium

Common name: Heliotrope

A half-hardy to tender annual that requires cool greenhouse cultivation and may also be used in summer bedding schemes in milder areas.

The clusters of scented flowers sit on top of masses of purple veined crinkled leaves to form a sub-shrub which is suitable for containers or a sheltered sunny border.

The flowering period is from May to October.

They grow to a height of 500mm (18") with a 300mm spread.

Cultivating Under glass:

Grow on in 150mm (6") pots of potting compost in a greenhouse, giving light shade in summer.

Water freely during the summer, the atmosphere should be kept relatively humid, but ventilate freely when the temperature exceeds 13°C (55°F).

Apply a weak liquid feed at intervals of ten days from May to September.

Re-pot or pot on annually in March.

Over-winter at a minimum temperature of 8°C(45°F) keeping them just moist in winter.

For early flowering provide a temperature of 16°C(60°F)

Outdoor cultivation:

Prepare the planting spot when the soil becomes workable in early spring.

Incorporate liberal amounts of humus making material to improve drainage and moisture retention.

Top dress the area with a general fertiliser 60gms/sm (2oz/sy)

For bedding schemes, set out young plants in well prepared garden soil in full sun.

Plant the plants as deep as they sat in their containers.

If slightly pot bound loosen the root ball slightly by gently teasing out the roots prior to planting.

Gently plant out 300mm (12") apart and firm the soil around them.

Water well after planting, and keep soil moist especially during the hottest days of summer.

It is said that withholding water from heliotropes may increase morning and evening fragrance.

Having said that, do not let them become too dry!

Propagation:

Week 6: Take 75mm (3") long semi hardwood cuttings, insert them in pots/trays containing equal parts (by volume) peat and sand, and place in a propagator set to give a temperature of 18°C (65°F)

When rooted, pot up the cuttings into 75mm (3") pots of potting compost.

Grow on at 10°C (50°F) for a week to ten days, then gradually harden off until planting out time.

Week 10: Sow seeds for bedding plants in pots trays of seed compost, and germinate at a temperature of 18°-21°C (64°-70°F)

Germination takes about a week, and results can be a bit erratic in terms of numbers germinating.

Week 13: Prick out the seedlings, if large enough to handle, into boxes/cell trays of potting compost.

Grow on at a minimum temperature of 15°C (60°F) for a week to ten days, gradually reducing the temperature then placing them in a cold frame till planting out time.

Pinch out new growth when the plants reach 75mm (3") high up to three times in the first weeks after planting to encourage bushy growth and subsequently more flowers.





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