Month: August 2020

Clothes moths: detection, prevention & control

Clothes moths: detection, prevention & control

How to recognise clothing moths and their larvae and how to combat the clothes-eating moths successfully? Here are all our tips for fighting common clothes moths in the house. When it comes to clothing, there is nothing quite as infuriating as small holes in your…

What do butterflies eat?

What do butterflies eat?

Many gardeners want butterflies in their garden. Learn which plants attract butterflies into the garden and what food do butterflies eat in this article. For many people butterflies are the epitome of elegance and beauty. Children in particular are fascinated by these insects with brightly…

Pruning roses: expert tips on how and when is best

Pruning roses: expert tips on how and when is best

When and how to cut roses? In this article, we will show you how to prune roses correctly and what you should pay attention to when cutting back roses.

Cutting various types of roses (Rosa) is not as difficult as is often assumed. Even hobby gardeners can achieve the perfect rose cut with just a little practice. All you have to do is to be informed about the different growth habits and flowering behaviour of the rose type you are growing in your garden. In this article, we will explain in detail how to cut roses correctly. We will show you what you need to consider when pruning roses, so that your roses grow luxuriantly year after year and produce an abundance of flowers.

When to prune roses?

Roses should be pruned in spring and only if the weather is mild. In areas prone to late frosts and if roses are unprotected from cold, the first cut can be postponed until May. This is because frost can cause damage to the fresh cuttings and the new shoots.

When to cut back roses in summary:

  • Pruning: Should be done in spring (March to May), regardless of whether the rose is planted in autumn or spring.
  • Annual spring pruning: This can be done on all types of roses and is also done between March and May. How it is done depends on the growth and flowering of the rose. In the following paragraphs, we will explain in detail what this means.
  • Annual summer pruning: Summer pruning is limited to the removal of unnecessary shoots and withered flowers. When it comes to deadheading roses, i.e. the removal of withered flowers, there are some differences in how it should be done depending on the rose type.

Tip: A sufficient supply of potassium makes your roses more resistant to cold winter frosts. For example, the beauty of your roses can be strengthened with a dose of our potassium-rich fertiliser. Even during lukewarm winters, which are often followed by sudden cold spells in spring, you should cover the young, sensitive shoots with some sort of winter protection.

How to prune roses?

These basic rules should be followed when cutting roses:

  • Use sharp scissors for a smooth cut
  • Always cut above an outward pointing bud
  • Cut about 5 mm above the bud so that it is not damaged
  • To prevent diseases cut at an angle so that water can run off the wound

Tip from a professional: Roses have the so-called buds on their shoots, from which side shoots can develop. In roses these buds can be easily recognised: they form a kind of inverted “V” or a rounded base of the soon-to-be shoot.

Pruning roses when planting

Pruning roses can help promote good rooting of the plant and ensure an even balance between the underground roots and above-ground shoots. If you plant your rose plant in autumn, postpone pruning until spring. If you plant in spring, pruning can be done immediately. Here are a few small and simple rules to follow:

  • Root pruning: Shorten the roots to a length of about 20 – 30 cm below the grafting point. This stimulates the branching of the roots and the rose will grow quicker.
  • In shrub and wild roses, all shoots should be shortened by half so that they are about 40 cm long.
  • Climbing roses are cut back to 10 buds above the ground.
  • All other roses should be shortened to 3 – 5 buds above the ground.
  • You can use these rose pruning rules also when planting roses. By slightly pruning roses when planting them, you can promote healthy growth and rooting of the freshly planted rose plant.

Cutting roses in spring

Spring is the best time to prune all roses. The following three basic rules apply to all types of roses, according to which the basic pruning is carried out:

  1. Removing dead wood: Dry and withered wood is removed close to the transition to healthy wood or, if necessary, right at the base.
  2. Removing thin and diseased shoots: These rob the healthy and stronger shoots of the strength to flower. They are completely removed at the base of the plant or at their origin on a stronger shoot.
  3. Thinning out shoots that grow too densely: If the shoots are too close together, the one with the weaker growth or less favourable direction of growth should be removed. In this way, the air circulation in the rosebush can be improved, thus preventing rose diseases, such as mildew on roses.

These are the basic rules for the most primitive type of pruning. Pruning can then be also individualised to the needs of your specific plant – depending on what kind of rose you are growing to promote healthy growth and abundant blooming. This will be explained in the following.

Tip: An exception is the group of ground cover roses. These are not cut with this basic cut explained above.

We have summarised the correct pruning technique for each rose group for you:

Type of rosesPruning in spring
Heritage and old garden rosesOnly the basic pruning described above is carried out on old and heritage garden roses. If necessary, dense or rotten shoots are removed at the base.
Once flowering climbing roses and ramblers (flowering in June and July, then declining)In the case of climbing roses that bloom once, only the basic cut described above is carried out. If necessary, dense or rotten shoots can be removed at the base.
Once flowering shrub roses
(flowering in June and July, decreasing thereafter)
For once blooming shrub roses, only the basic pruning described above is carried out. If necessary, dense or rotten shoots can be removed at the base.
Wild rosesFor wild roses, only the basic cut described above is carried out. If necessary, dense or rotten shoots can be removed at the base.
More often flowering shrub roses
(flowering June - September)
In the case of more frequently flowering shrub roses, light thinning out is carried out as required by removing whole shoots. Every 4 - 5 years, older shoots should be removed directly above the ground.
Ground cover rosesGround cover roses should not be pruned annually. Every 3 - 4 years, they are trimmed to a height of about 30 cm without regard to their buds. Use a hedge trimmer to prune them.
Tree rosesThe crowns of the tree roses are cut back to 3 - 5 buds above the grafting point.
Hybrid tea rosesHybrid tea roses are pruned to 3 - 5 buds above the ground. Weakly developed shoots are cut back more thoroughly than the strongly developed ones.
English rosesDepending on the flowering habit of the English roses, they should be pruned in the same way as once or more often flowering shrub roses.
More often flowering climbing roses
(flowering June - September)
After the first flowering in spring, the side shoots growing on the long shoots are shortened to 3 - 5 buds. Only old, long and rotten shoots are removed completely at the base.
Garden bed rosesCut back to 3 - 5 buds above the ground. Weakly developed shoots can be removed. Keep the more strongly developed shoots. Extremely strong growing varieties (like 'Gloria Dei') are not cut back quite as deep (6 - 9 buds above the ground), dwarf roses are cut back thoroughly (2 - 3 buds above the ground).
Hanging or trailing rosesHanging or trailing roses are treated as once or more often flowering climbing roses, depending on their flowering behaviour.

Cutting roses in summer

No other major pruning operations are carried out in summer. What you can do is remove wilted rose flowers. Here, too, each removal should be done above the buds that point outwards. This promotes growth and further formation of flowers.

Tip: If you want to keep rose hips as a bright spot of colour in the garden or as food for the birds, you should not remove withered inflorescences from once blooming roses, as no further flowers will be formed. With roses that bloom continuously, you should not cut off the flowers in late summer, so that the rose hips can form.

cutting back roses
If you would like to enjoy some rose hip tea in the autumn, do not deadhead your roses [Shutterstock.com/OlgaPonomarenko]

Rose hips are an amazing natural source of vitamin C. If you would like to boost your immune system, you should definitely keep the withered flowers of roses on the plant and then make some tea from rose hips in autumn. You can learn more about fruit rich in vitamin C here.

Identifying side shoots on roses and removing them

In spring and summer, grafted roses – i.e. almost all garden roses – might have a side shoot growing out of their rootstock. Unnecessary side shoots, sometimes referred to as wild shoots, can be easily recognised by their smaller, lighter leaves. They also have at least seven or more leaves on a pinnate leaf, whereas grafted varieties usually have five leaves on the pinnate leaf.

Cutting roses in autumn and winter?

In autumn and winter there is not much to do in rose care. We do not recommend pruning roses in autumn or winter, mainly because this might stimulate the formation of new shoots. These young shoots would then be defenceless against the cold. However, what can be done during winter in terms of rose care is winter protection. To protect your roses from cold, cover the grafting point with a small heap of soil, mulch or with fir branches. Of course, correct fertilisation is essential to keep roses resilient in winter. To do this, use organic rose fertilisers that are rich in potassium in autumn.

If you are on a hunt for white varieties of roses to grow in your garden, this article will help you find the right fit. If you are interested in fragrant types of roses, read here.

Spider mites: how to identify, prevent & get rid of them

Spider mites: how to identify, prevent & get rid of them

Infestation with spider mites is a nightmare for every gardener. We will show how to recognise the damage and how to fight the annoying spider mites naturally and with household remedies. Every hobby gardener who has ever received unwelcome visits from spider mites knows how…

Growing climbing hydrangeas: tips on varieties, care & propagation

Growing climbing hydrangeas: tips on varieties, care & propagation

Everything about climbing hydrangea – from planting and propagation to different varieties, including expert advice on the toxicity and care of the climbing hydrangea – can be found in this article. Climbing hydrangeas (Hydrangea petiolaris) are becoming increasingly popular among hobbyist gardeners. And now wonder:…

Oxheart tomato: tips for cultivating the beef tomato

Oxheart tomato: tips for cultivating the beef tomato

Oxheart tomatoes are known for their large and fleshy fruits. In the following, we will explain what to pay attention to when planting and caring for oxheart tomatoes.

Oxheart tomatoes are popular among many hobby-gardeners because they are low-maintenance and can grow enormous fruits. In this article, we will tell you everything there is to know about the bull’s heart tomato.

Oxheart tomato: origin & history

The oxheart tomato probably originated in Russia (where it was first mentioned) towards the end of the 19th century. It later reached the USA where it is still widely cultivated today. Oxheart tomatoes are also very popular in France and Italy, where the fruits are often sold at farmer’s markets.

Oxheart tomato: characteristics & taste

As the name suggests, oxheart tomatoes are reminiscent of bull’s hearts in their shape as well as size. With their fruit weighing from 100 to over 1000 grams, they belong to the beef tomato group. While some of the fruits are heart-shaped and smooth, other are strongly ribbed with many folds. They only have few seeds inside, which is common in beef tomatoes. Most oxheart tomato varieties are open-pollinated, however, some of the newer varieties are hybrids which do not produce seeds that can be sown again. If you do select an open-pollinated variety, though, you can grow oxheart tomatoes from their own seeds. You can find tips for obtaining tomato seeds in this article.

Very often, oxheart tomato plants look rather sickly. Their leaves tend to be twisted and hang downwards noticeably. But don’t worry, this is totally normal. Their ripe fruits turn soft quickly and should therefore be eaten or processed fast after harvest. The bull’s heart tomatoes are delightfully aromatic and taste sweet with a slight acidity.

The best oxheart tomato varieties

Oxheart tomatoes are a treat, both visually and in terms of taste. We will introduce you to the five best oxheart tomato varieties for your garden.

  • ‘Anna Russian’ is an oxheart tomato variety which produces heart-shaped, large fruits that turn a deep pink colour when ripe. Some parts of the fruits are of a light beige. They have a mild taste and are ideal for making tomato sauces.
  • The ‘Bulgarian Oxheart’ tomato grows numerous pink, heart-shaped fruits in summer. The robust tomato plants can grow up to a height of 180 centimetres.
  • ‘Coeur de Boeuf’ is probably the best known oxheart tomato variety with its strongly ribbed, light red fruits. The ‘Coeur de Boeuf’ tomatoes originate from France and ripen from mid-July onwards. The plants can reach a height of up to 200 centimetres and are suitable for outdoor cultivation with some rain protection.
  • The ‘White Oxheart’ variety has a light-yellow colour and, like most almost white tomatoes, has a very fruity and sweet taste. It grows to a height of 200 centimetres and produces very good yields when grown in a greenhouse.
  • ‘Orange Russian’ is a heart-shaped, beautifully orange and red marbled ox-heart tomato. The fruits weigh up to 300 grams and taste wonderfully fruity-sweet and spicy. The tomato should be grown in a greenhouse.

Growing oxheart tomatoes

Oxheart tomatoes require a lot of warmth and should not be kept outdoors without some type of protection from rain. They also grow well in a pot by a south-facing wall of a house. You should use a substrate that is specially adapted for the needs of tomatoes. In this way, your tomatoes are provided with all the necessary nutrients for a good start and a rich harvest.

Many tomatoes can benefit from mulching. Read more about mulching and watering tomatoes here.

How to care for oxheart tomatoes

Oxheart tomatoes are grown with only one main shoot, all side shoots should be removed. As the plants grow very tall, they need a pole to support the weight of the fruit. A primarily organic slow-release fertiliser provides the plants with all the nutrients it requires.

Oxheart tomatoes: what can you use them for?

The large beef tomatoes ripen from the end of July to the beginning of October. Oxheart tomatoes are ideal for salads, but they also work great in soups and sauces.

oxheart tomatoes
Oxheart tomatoes are absolutely delicious in salads, soups or filled and baked [Shutterstock.com/Patrick Daxenbichler]

Our tip: try filling the tomatoes and baking them in the oven – oxheart tomatoes are delicious when prepared this way!

If you would like to add more colour into your tomato garden bed, have a look at our articles on yellow tomato varieties and green tomato varieties.

Agapanthus: growth, care & varieties

Agapanthus: growth, care & varieties

African lilies have magnificent flowers. We will tell you what is important when planting lilies of the Nile and what you have to consider when caring for the agapanthus in terms of fertilising and watering. The African lily (Agapanthus), also referred to as lily of…

Pruning & pinching out tomato plants

Pruning & pinching out tomato plants

The pinching out of tomato shoots is a controversial topic among gardeners. We reveal when it makes sense to prune tomatoes and how to prune a tomato plant properly. Rarely does a topic divide tomato lovers as much as the removing of tomato side shoots.…

How to eat a pomelo: peeling pomelo the right way

How to eat a pomelo: peeling pomelo the right way

Eating pomelos and peeling them properly is quite easy. Learn how to peel and eat the big citrus fruit easily.

The pomelo, also called pummelo or shaddock, is a truly unique fruit. The greatest quality of the pomelo, is without a doubt its exceptional flavour. Compared to the bitter grapefruit, it has the fruity-sweet flavour close to that of the mandarin or a sweet orange.

The skin of the pomelo is quite thick, which is why many are not sure about how best to peel and cut pomelos. We have summarised this for you below:

How to peel and cut the pomelo

  1. First, cut the skin of the pomelo in the middle section of the fruit. Do not cut too deep and avoid penetrating the flesh. Only the skin of the fruit is cut in this way. 
  2. Carefully start removing the skin of the pomelo from the flesh with your fingers. Remove all of the skin from one half of the pomelo. 
  3. Repeat the peeling process for the other half of the pomelo.
  4. Now you can divide the pomelo in the middle by simply pulling the fruit apart with your thumbs in the upper opening.
  5. The white skin that surrounds the flesh of the pomelo can also be plucked off. Then, you can easily separate the individual fruit segments of the pomelo, remove excess skin and use the empty skin shells as a biodegradable bowl.

Benefits & use of the pomelo

The pomelo is very healthy. Those who count their daily calorie intake, will be happy to learn the following. With just 25 to 50 kilo calories (kcal) per 100 grams, the pomelo is extremely low compared to many other fruits. This makes it (like grapefruit) an excellent snack for those who are trying to introduce healthier options to their diets. Because the pomelo is a citrus fruit, it contains a high amount of vitamin C. Additionally, the flesh of this fruit is rich in potassium, magnesium and phosphate. It also contains so-called limonin, a natural bitter substance which has a beneficial effect on intestinal activity. Overall, pomelo is a very healthy fruit and a welcome alternative if orange and grapefruit become too boring. But beware: people who take antihypertensive medication should avoid pomelo.

The pomelo can be enjoyed in many different ways. One possibility is to integrate the fruit into mixed fruit salads. The pomelo is also a great addition to muesli and yoghurts. For those, who are a bit more experimental: add pomelo to more hearty dishes. In Asian cuisine, the pomelo is often incorporated into vegetable dishes to enhance the meal with a fruity note.

Our tip: the pomelo tastes particularly good with fresh mint leaves. Use these two ingredients to make a homemade lemonade!

Origin & cultivation of pomelo

The citrus fruit belongs to the newly developed cultivars. It was first bred in Israel in the early 1970s. In China and Southeast Asia, however, the same citrus variety developed, too. After a short time, the new fruit also reached the European market. The pomelo is hard to miss on the supermarket shelves. It is enormous, slightly pear-shaped and light pink, light yellow or light green in colour. All of these characteristics make it easily distinguishable from other citrus fruits. To this day, it is cultivated mainly in Israel, China, Southeast Asian countries and South Africa.

Oak processionary moth: facts, rash treatment & control

Oak processionary moth: facts, rash treatment & control

Oak processionary moth damages oak trees and can cause allergic reactions in humans. In this article, we will show you how to get rid of his moth from the garden. The fluffy brown caterpillars of the oak processionary moth (Thaumetopoea processionea L.) look quite cute…