For today’s post, I just wanted to start by apologising for the gap in posts on HPH – I’ve been working on a few planty projects ‘offline‘ which I’m excited to share with you soon. I thought it would be a good time to share a balcony garden update as I’ve been really enjoying my second floor apartment gardening this year.

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Here’s a flashback to an april weekend where I spent much of it potting on the balcony – the photograph above shows it freshly planted. Lavender on the kitchen step next to my old French doors (below) is a must for me and it’s also where I keep my outdoor watering jug. I love the combination of the earthy terracotta and classic french lavender that greets me on doorstep morning and night. The photo below left shows the potting of my pink geranium which usually lives on my window ledge to add a bubblegum pop to an otherwise dull corner.

 

Below shows my geranium in its usual spot and a bedraggled pink hydrangea that I rescued from the supermarket for £1.25! My zinnia seeds hang in this zinc planter that I got for my birthday next to my outdoor brush. The tricky part about apartment living is that storage is often pretty hard to come by and so I have to keep certain practical things (such as this) out here! I am keen to show a reality here, which leads me onto my next point…

This beautiful variegated pelargonium contrast was looking so cheerful on my shelf in my office after being potted, I moved it outdoors to live in my balcony garden. It was loving life until a few days ago when the builders STOOD ON IT. Yes, that’s right, it got squashed. I have had to cut it right back to a two inch stub! The photos towards the end show the current state of the balcony as I am still in the midst of renovation works – a few of us in the apartment block are avid gardeners and are frustrated with our landlord a little for telling us it’ll take 10 weeks to paint some walls and railings. Anyway, the joys of renting… back to the plants.

 

Here’s my oxalis triangularis from a few weeks ago after giving the plant a complete cut back in march and replanting the tubers. I wrote a post last summer about how to care for oxalis, but will get an update together soon as I get a lot of questions about it over on Instagram.

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Fast forward a few weeks from the oxalis photo and here’s how things were looking at the end of June (photos above and below). I love how much fuller everything looks compared to the first photo of this post. The oxalis and sweet williams are flowering well and the fast-growing nasturtiums and sunflowers have shot up. I’m going to stake the sunflowers and repot at the greenhouse soon, because they are definitely getting a bit straggly.

As much as I love houseplants, there is something so rewarding about seeing a container garden explode in size and colour as summer comes around – you don’t really get a similar impact indoors unless you have lots of room to group plants together. And lets face it, nothing grows as quickly as nasturtiums or sunflowers!

I also have this delicate trailing begonia duo from a plant sale that I need to pot on, and my zinnia are looking a bit chaotic but pretty in their planter:

 

I am really enjoying my purply blue hydrangea that is starting to bloom now. I had never thought to grow these in a pot before this year and was a bit sceptical, but they are doing well so far.

 

The current state of things in July is a little different, but thought I’d share anyway… this is how the builders have moved my plants so that they repair and paint the external walls. It looks pretty as a blaze of colour but I must admit, being three weeks into the repairs now, I am starting to struggle with watering and feeding with them all over the place like this.

 

HERE’S A LIST OF EVERYTHING IN MY BALCONY GARDEN AT THE MOMENT (JULY 2018):

🌿 Oxalis Triangularis🌿 Zinnia (from seed) 🌿 pink hydrangea 🌿 pink geranium 🌿 sweet william 🌿 sunflowers (from seed) 🌿 trailing begonia 🌿 nasturtium (from seed) 🌿 rosemary 🌿 sage 🌿 lavender 🌿 mint 🌿 wildflowers 🌿 basil (from seed) 🌿 dill (from seed) 🌿 blue hydrangea 🌿 variegated lemon scented pelargonium 🌿 peony (from bulb) 🌿 variegated pelargonium contrast (even if it’s only a stub right now) 🌿 euonymus 🌿 cosmos 🌿 

WHY YOUR NIGHT SKY PETUNIA MIGHT BE TURNING WHITE

I wanted to conclude this post with something that has been a bit of a mystery to many a plant lover this spring – the night sky petunia. This new cultivar in this purple colour way burst onto the scene this year and we are soon to have a pink variety. They have taken the online plant community by storm, with stores such as Morrisons selling them under the guise of a ‘designer petunia’! But a few months after looking gloriously galactic, people (me included) started to notice the flowers turning white. See photos below:

 

After chatting to my plant friend Kevin (find his instagram here), who explained that it was an unstable mutation from being a newly developed cultivar, I went looking for any articles online about this night-sky-specific issue. The best one I found was a PDF of a growing guide have a look here.

The main issue that causes the whitening is because of day to night fluctuations in temperature, which I could definitely relate to back in May when the above white flower shot was taken.

To quote the article cited above:

Temperature

• Nights: 52 to 62°F (11 to 17°C)

• Days: 58 to 75°F (14 to 24°C)

• Higher than recommended temperatures will cause stretch, weak stems and reduced flower size. Higher temperatures can also affect flower color pattern. A high DIF (hot day, cool night) can cause Night Sky flowers to turn white. High day and night temps can cause the owers to become too purple.

The photographs below show my petunia in it’s current state (early July) and I’m pleased to report that since the heatwave we have had in the UK, the day to night fluctuations have obviously decreased and caused the flowers to become a lot more speckled again. I’d say that now, that are actually bordering on becoming too purple, but I will continue to document it’s continuous variation when this hot spell passes. Either way, despite it’s quirks, these have been a beautiful addition to my balcony garden this year!

 

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Hope you enjoyed this balcony garden update, and I’ll be sure to share its progress again when I can eventually put my plants back in their usual places. For a day to day update from me and for plant care tips and tricks see my Instagram stories here

Thanks for reading!

Laura

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Posted by:Laura HPH

2 replies on “Balcony garden update + why your night sky petunia might be turning white

  1. That is one of the many reasons that I dislike new introductions that have not been trialed as much as they are purported to have been. Well, there is as short but relevant list of qualities that I dislike about new introductions, but I will save that for an article of my own. Anyway, if it happens to be a virally induced variegation it is particularly unstable. Fortunately, they are pretty no matter what, whether thy are deep blue with stars, or white with blue spots on them. For these petunias, their weirdness makes them more interesting and appealing.

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