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Flower farm: Winter jobs

Here Linda gives advice and plans for winter.

Planting sunflowers, ranunculus, and spring bulbs; admiring the pansies, and picking winter flowers.


Plant sun flower seeds now.


Sunny side up

Get a head start on summer by planting sunflower seeds in individual pots and nurturing them indoors until it’s time to plant them out in spring. We are testing out Sunflower 'Pro Cut Red' (Helianthus annua) this season, which is one of the best dark colours on the market, with rusty red petals and chocolatey centres. It’s been bred for commercial cut flower production and has strong, tall stems, and pollenless flowers. The flowers top a single stem, and with these types it’s important not to pinch out the growing tip - or you lose the flower!


Get your spring bulbs, like ranunculus, into the garden in winter.


Top bulb

Ranunculus bulbs can now be bought in single colours for greater impact. Each bulb will produce 20-30 flowers and do it all again next year.


Fill in the blanks with pansies.


Face it

Pansies are a charming winter filler and bulb support in the garden or dripping gently down terracotta pots and stone urns. Who can resist those precious faces!


Cut winter native flowers like grevillea, banksia and correa now.


Pick now

Grevillea, banksia, crowea and correa are excellent native cut flowers for winter and cutting the flower stems to enjoy indoors has the added benefit of keeping the shrubs compact and lengthening their lives.

Keep a fresh sprig of daphne in the bathroom to keep it smelling sweetly through winter. See the full article, 'Daphne'.

Upturn shy hellebore faces into float bowls so you can peer into their freckled faces. Pick flowers full of pollen to lengthen the display.

Late-winter flowering bulbs such as Spanish bluebells, freesia, and snowdrops naturalise well under trees and pick well too.


Plant now

Plant sweet pea seedlings into limed soil so these old-fashioned frilly blooms can add fragrance and beauty to your spring arrangements.

Iceland poppies are generous pickers, supplying plenty of crepe paper flowers per plant. For the longest shelf-life pick when the bud just cracks to show the colour beneath.

Last chance for spring bulbs. Grab a bargain and get them in.


Perfect time to plant bare rooted roses.


Rosy success is better with bare-rooted roses planted in winter than for flowering pots planted in spring. Bare root systems seem to establish faster, especially if they when planted into improved soil. Check Ali Mentesh's article, 'Seven Stars of Red Cow Farm' for planting tips

Add delicate cyclamen under trees for a woodland look. The just-picked flowers last surprisingly well in a small vase.


Do now

Order dahlia tubers for planting out in spring.

Liquid feed polyanthus, deadhead finished flowers and avoid watering over leaves to limit rotting foliage.

Prune hydrangeas, wisteria and gardenia.


Don't forget to feed the emerging spring bulbs.

Start liquid feeding emerging spring bulbs as soon as they are 10cm tall.

Prune bush and carpet roses back by at least 60 per cent. Be bold! Prune to an open framework with only three or four main stems.

Spray lime sulphur over pruned roses and stone fruit to kill off fungal spores and insect pests hiding out over winter. Spray stems until they are dripping and don’t forget to spray the surrounding soil as well.

About this article

Author: Linda Ross