Plants newsletter #2.
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Plant of the month - Helleborus niger, Christmas rose

The widely spread in Europe Helleborus niger or Christmas rose, is one of the most traditional seasonal plants for late autumn and Christmas time.


Helleborus niger 'Christmas Carol' (in our photos) is a reliably free-flowering variety of this classic perennial. Dark green, evergreen or semi-evergreen foliage provides the background to large glistening white flowers with golden stamens, often developing a pink or lemon coloured flush, between November and March. As a member of the Ranunculaceae family, it is poisonous. The name (niger) comes from the almost black colour of the roots. It is said that Helleborus niger, known as Christmas Rose, owes its name to an ancient story that the perennial sprouted in the snow from the tears of a young girl who had no gift to give the Christ child in Bethlehem.


The plant is traditional for cottage garden and borders. The full height and spread 30cm x 45cm (12in x 18in) is reached after 3-5 years. Plant in rich, well drained soil, in sun or partial shade, sheltered from cold winds. Mulch with well-rotted manure, compost, or leaf mould in autumn. Remove any old leaves with black blotches when seen, or faded or damaged foliage as the flowers appear.

Links: Helleborus niger in Wikipedia
           Helleborus niger in RHS

Seasonal task - preparing half-hardy and young shrubs and trees for the winter.

Magnolia in spring

In order to protect young and semi-hardy trees and shrubs from the cold winter-spans it is often enough to keep the lower part of the stem away from frostbites. Last spring one of our Plants app team mates planted a beautiful yellow magnolia. The following series of images will show you how we prepared this young tree for the winter.

For this task you will need some dry leaves, some small and few larger branches or bark, and a peace of fleece (ideally horticultural fleece, but any old wrapping that allows the air to circulate freely will do).

Spread the dry leaves around the base of the tree or the shrub.

Surround the leaves with the smallest branches and bark.


Cover the pile with the fleece and bind it loosely to prevent it from being blown away by winter winds.

Spread the larger branches on top of the fleece. Coniferous rests of the Christmas decoration will be perfect for this task, because they also prevent the pile from being sagged by the wet early snow.

With this protective layer, we hope to see our magnolia in bloom early next spring.


What's new with Plants app

As we promised in an earlier issue of the newsletter, every time we will introduce new Plants app functions of hidden gems. This issue we will show the new activity schedule and the plant library filter.


In version 1.0 of Plants app watering, pruning, fertilising, and other tasks could be scheduled only at regular intervals. With the upcoming version of the app, we are introducing the weekly scheduling, that is ideal for office environments or for places that we visit only on particular days.

Often we face the task of selecting plants for a particular spot (a sunny balcony, the window frame of the children's room, etc.). In order to find the best suited for the spot plant out of the plant library, a completely new filter tool could be used. It allows filtering by common plant properties, like lighting, or by how easy or difficult it is to care for the plant or if it is suited for children etc.

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