Press Release: Top 10 tips for looking after your house plants revealed by West Dean Gardens

- Several stunning glasshouses re-open at West Dean Gardens -
- Hester Forde to host two online garden courses -  


Spring has sprung at West Dean Gardens, near Chichester in West Sussex and to celebrate, some of their iconic glasshouses have just re-opened to local visitors and walkers between 10.30am to 5pm each day.  Entry costs £11 (Pre-booking is essential), children under 16 are free and last entry is 30 minutes before closing time.

As Tom Brown, Head Gardener at West Dean Gardens, commented: “In terms of Spring highlights, we now have a number of glasshouses open with social distancing and hand sanitising measures in place. The most eye-catching at the moment is the colourful bulb display which includes Species tulips, Hyacinths, Daffodils, Lachenalia, Scilla and Fritillaries. Other glasshouses offer great inspiration and comprise a baby leaf display, plus the nectarine, peach and apricot blossom is looking good. The magnolias are ready to burst in the Spring Garden with lots of spring bulbs in our meadows.”

To coincide with this Kelly Dyer, Glasshouse Gardener at West Dean Gardens has shared her top 10 tips for growing house plants. She explains: “As we have been in lockdown, people have had more time to appreciate their homes and for those who, maybe don't have a garden, houseplants have become hugely popular. My initial advice is to keep the temperature in your rooms consistent. Avoid positioning pots in draughty areas like doorways and above radiators, and most importantly be attentive to your plants by deadheading them when the flowers are spent, removing any fallen leaves, pruning off any dead or dying stems. In my experience, hygiene is the key to a happy and healthy plant!

She goes on to say: “If you notice pests like white fly, aphid or scale, make up a solution of dishwashing liquid and water and spray the foliage, washing off the pests but also providing a viscous layer that will prevent sapsuckers from penetrating the plant tissue.”

  • Buy or source your houseplants responsibly. Where have they been propagated/How far have they travelled? Are they rare or endangered and could they have been pillaged from their natural environment?
  • In Summer, water early in the morning in order to prevent any scorch caused by sunlight refracting through water droplets on foliage and flowers.
  • If you have pot plants on your windowsills keep the foliage away from the glass, again, to prevent scorch. That said, keep your windows clean to allow in maximum light for photosynthesis.
  • Top dress your pots with grit/gravel/pebbles to prevent Sciarid flies or Fungus gnats laying their eggs on the soil surface of your pots. Once you’ve got them they are a nightmare to get rid of!
  • As much as possible water from below via a tray.
  • Establish a watering and feeding regime. Remember your houseplants are in pots, so unlike plants in the ground which can grow down and along into the soil when in need of nutrients, the roots of your houseplants are restricted by the size pot they are in and rely on you for a top up.
  • On that note, have a day in the year where you re-pot your houseplants into fresh compost and/or a larger pot if required. This is best done if/when the plant is dormant.
  • Dust the leaves of larger/glossy leaved plants, removing a barrier to effective photosynthesis.
  • Have fun propagating your houseplants for gifts. Share the love and passion (for free)! Take cuttings from plants like Pelargoniums and Fuchsias, pot up offsets (baby plants) from your succulents and divide plants like Aspidistras or Polystichum Fern.
  • Get to know your plants. Each one has a story to tell. Where is it native to? What does it look like in its natural environment? This will also tell you what conditions it likes i.e. hot and humid or cool and shady, which will determine where in your house you position the plant.  What is its botanical name and what does this tell you about it – often the genus and species provide invaluable clues to the structure or origin of the plant?

For those who cannot currently visit the gardens, West Dean College of Arts and Conservation is also offering more ideas to get gardening this Spring, with two live online gardening courses, with renowned plantsperson, lecturer and garden writer Hester Forde, which cost £30 each and are suitable for all. Snowdrops – White Gold will take place on Saturday, March 13 2021 between 3-5pm. The talk, which is delivered over Zoom, includes a Q&A session and will look at the beauty of this winter grower when little else is in bloom. Hester will reveal a brief background to snowdrops, the different species, some of the best hybrids, practical tips on growing, feeding, and propagation as well as how best to incorporate snowdrops into your winter or spring garden and some great plant combinations with snowdrops. While on Saturday, April 10, 2021, between 3-5pm, Hester will be talking about Enchanting Plants, which will help those with small gardens maximise the space they have and grow more unusual plants.

In addition to the these online courses, the West Dean College of Arts and Conservation has also released other live and self-paced online short courses that are suitable for all abilities, in a variety of subjects including painting, drawing and tapestry weaving - including some with optional craft boxes. See all online short courses here.

GARDEN FAQs: Toilet facilities will be available and a stringent cleaning regime is in place. More details and guidelines for on ensuring a safe visit can be found on the website here

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Editor's Notes:

  • West Dean Gardens is part of the Edward James Foundation, a charitable trust, also comprising West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, West Dean Estate and the West Dean Tapestry Studio. Charity No. 1126084.

More information is available on www.westdean.org.uk or through social media:

https://www.facebook.com/westdeangardens

https://www.instagram.com/westdeangardens/

https://twitter.com/westdeangardens

For further information or high-resolution digital images, please contact Rachel Aked:
Email: rachel.aked@westdean.org.uk
Tel: 07790 732448

Kelly Dyer, Glasshouse Gardener. Pictured holding a 'Pilea peperomioides'.
Kelly Dyer, Glasshouse Gardener. Pictured holding a 'Pilea peperomioides'.
Spring Glasshouse Display. Image credit: Tom Brown
Spring Glasshouse Display. Image credit: Tom Brown
Daffodils at West Dean Gardens. Image credit: Trevor Sims
Daffodils at West Dean Gardens. Image credit: Trevor Sims
Baby leaf display in the glasshouses. Image credit: Tom Brown
Baby leaf display in the glasshouses. Image credit: Tom Brown
Tulipa Turkestanica. Image credit: Tom Brown
Tulipa Turkestanica. Image credit: Tom Brown