Plant Selection, Care & Display
At Forest Edge we utilise growing techniques to ensure that only healthy stock leaves the nursery.
However we do observe that retailers, across the board, experience difficulties in maintaining the health of some plants. This is often caused by incorrect siting of the bench and/or excessive watering. This is particularly an issue with Calluna varieties leading to foliar browning and dieback. Calluna cultivars especially require an open sunny situation, a well-drained root area and well-ventilated foliage.
The market demand for a potful of bushy dense foliage coupled with daily summer irrigation regimes providing excess water and moist humid air does nothing to aid the heather plants well-being. To keep the plants at their best, the way forward is to site the display bench in an open sunny situation, space the plants to ensure that light and air can reach the basal foliage and keep the compost moist, avoiding excessive overhead watering.
At Forest Edge we have increased the production of alternative heather species such as Daboecia, Erica cinerea, tetralix and x williamsii which provide for attractive extended colour with flowering and foliage potential for summer sales and have proved more durable in retail environments.
Situation of the Sales Area
A light open airy situation is best where air movement can keep the plants well ventilated. Site plants on a bench preferably at waist height with taller plants at the back or centre of the bench. Remember that customers’ arms do not extend very far.
Avoid a site where the bench is shaded as this will encourage plants to lose their colour. A shaded bench is often a damp airless situation that encourages the growth of fungal diseases.
Siting the sales bench in a prime area will aid a quick turnover of stock. Bear in mind that plants in small pots retain their shelf life and sales appeal for a shorter period and so regulate stocking and stock turnover.
It is essential that the compost of heathers is kept moist. They will not tolerate drought, which is the visible wilting of the young shoots followed by death of the branch tips and subsequent death of the whole plant.
Over-watering will result in airless compost, encouraging the growth of pathogenic fungal diseases in the compost causing root and stems to die. The symptoms can be similar to drought in severe cases but can also be the initial cause of fungal infection gaining a hold at soil level and causing browning of the basal foliage spreading upwards throughout the plant.
Prior to watering feel the compost to see whether watering is necessary. Do not apply if the compost is already moist. If in doubt take the pots off some of the plants and inspect the compost to assess water requirement. Apply water in regular small quantities rather than drenching excessively occasionally.
Excessive application of water with a high PH (lime content) will place plants under stress and cause early deterioration of summer flowering varieties.
Plants on the sales bench should be spaced so that the foliage of one plant is barely touching its neighbour. Young plants may be displayed pot thick in trays but remember to space as they grow.
To keep the plants looking at their best trim off dead flowers to the base of the flowering spike soon after flowering.