Saturday, October 27, 2012

Auricula Autumn & Winter care in Sweden: part 1 Auriculas in pots.

Cold frames January 2012
Each week during the winter I will post an article on my experiences of growing Auriculas in Sweden. If you would like to share your experiences of growing auriculas in your part of Sweden or in your part of the World; I would be only too pleased to post them on this blog.

/Ray
Winter 2010, fighting my way into the greenhouse.
The first thing to remember is that auriculas originally came from the Alps and therefore the conditions they prefer are the same as most other alpine plants. Well drained soil, cool conditions, half shade and kept just slightly moist; over watering very often results in the death of auriculas.

Cold frame, weed surpresser with gravel on top
In September I put my auriculas that are grown in pots either in an unheated cold frame or greenhouse. In the cold frames they are placed on gravel so that they are kept well drained. In the greenhouse they are placed on the floor. I do not recommend placing them on the greenhouse shelves as I have found that they can easily be cooked by the early spring sun.

1st Sept. 2012 cold frame full of auriculas.
At this time of the year I keep them just barely moist, in fact most of them are not watered again, after being placed in their winter home, until next spring.
I give them just a very light watering in spring when they have defrosted and show the first signs of growth; this is normally in March or April.
16th Sept 2012 Auriculas on greenhouse floor ready for winter.
Ventilation is very important so I keep the cold frame lids, greenhouse doors and windows open until the first minus temperatures and heavy frosts come. I keep the lids nearly shut when it rains so that they still have ventilation but the Auriculas are kept dry. When it is minus at night I shut the lids for the night but open them during the day when it is plus; as soon as it is minus both day & night I shut everything up for the winter.

The cold is not too much of a problem for my auriculas but being too wet is, I’ve had temperatures down to minus 27°C (Normal winter minus 10°C to minus 20°C) and my auriculas survived this. The only ones I have ever lost in winter were some plants which I had kept too moist during the autumn/winter and they rotted when they defrosted in the spring.


I regularly inspect both the cold frames and greenhouse during the winter to make sure everything is OK.
My cold frames (I have 10 at the moment each holding circa 300 auriculas) are of a very simple construction, being built from impregnated wood and building plastic. I have found that using a double layer of building plastic helps keep the condensation down when I shut the lids, it does not keep them any warmer in the winter, but helps to prevent droplets from condensation from dripping on the Auriculas. The only problem with using building plastic is that when there is a lot of snow you must scrape the snow of to prevent the lids collapsing. Channel plastic that is used for greenhouse is stronger but more expensive. My greenhouse is constructed from wood & channel plastic.(This holds circa 1000 auriculas during the winter).
Winter 2010, snow scraped from cold frame.
9th Jan 2012, auricula seedling in claypot, greenhouse.
 This seeedling is frozen solid in its pot but it does not harm it, the old yellow leaves are removed in the spring when it has defrosted.
Small aurciculas in cold frame,
These are some very small divisions of GERDA I took in 2011, they look very sad here in their winter cold frame at minus 17°C  in January 2012 , but they all survived and the majority bloomed in the spring. GERDA is one of my own stripe hybrids and does really well here in Sweden.
Ray's stripe GERDA
 Next week I will be writing about autumn & winter care for auriculas growing in borders. If you have any questions or would like any advice please do not hesitate to contact me.
/Ray


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