Mr Fothergill's home gardening scheme finds Sedum Xenox is the best bloomer

When it comes to planting bare root perennials, Mr Fothergill's Nation of Gardeners has found that over wintering in pots in cold frames and then planting out in spring make stronger plants in the long run.

Sedum Xenox
Sedum Xenox

Mr Fothergill's is running a project in which it sent a group of amateur gardeners from different places in the UK locations 10 bare root perennials in November 2013 and asked them to report back on how they fared over winter.

They received five varieties (Astrantia Moulin Rouge, Cimicifuga James Compton, Eryngium Super Nova Starlight, Papaver Place Pigalle and Sedum Xenox), with two of each plant supplied. One was for planting in a pot and one was to go directly in to the open ground.

The gardeners found that whilst those in the open ground, on the whole, survived the winter, those in pots were stronger and produced more flowers. Those planted in open ground may have had a quick start, with the potted version being much slower, but by April the pots were catching up with their counterparts in the ground around the country and were much stronger.

Many of the gardeners’ bare root perennials did not bloom but they still saw new growth and Mr Fothergill’s is confident they will bloom more consistently in year two. This was most common of the plants in pots.

The most prolific bloomers were the Sedum Xenox and the Papaver Place Pigalle which were reported to be strong plants with lots of flowers, which for some of the Sedum Xenox, extended until October 2014.

Mr Fothergill’s Seeds commercial director Tim Jeffries said: "We wanted to see how our gardeners got on with the perennial across the country throughout winter. Undoubtedly, planting in pots seemed to be the way forward to boost the plant’s strength in spring and bloom as summer approached.

"The results we are seeing from the Nation of Gardeners are proving very useful and will no doubt be beneficial to us in long run for giving advice on how and when best to grow our products."

The gardeners also found that planting it pots was not just beneficial to the plants’ bloom and strength, but the pots also provided protection from slugs.

From the 16 areas that the gardeners represent, the Surrey and the Cheshire representatives had the best results for their perennials - both seeing six of their perennials bloom in their first year. The Surrey gardener had three of her potted plants bloom, as well as three of her open grounds varieties. Whereas the Cheshire gardener had four pots flower as well as two in the ground.

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