Alpines are the perfect way for adding some bright and cheerful colour to the garden. Over time alpines have earned a reputation for needing lots of attention and being tricky to grow. However, in spite of their delicate appearance, alpine plants are in fact easy to grow and require very little maintenance once planted. The beauty of alpines is their size. Their miniaturised form means that you can grow a large number of different species in a relatively confined space, creating beautiful miniature landscapes.
You will need:
- John Innes No.2, a peat-free compost or another of your choice
- Horticultural potting grit
- Small decorative gravel in your preferred colour (optional)
- A selection of alpine plants
- …and some gardening gloves!
- 1. Before you fill your chosen pot with compost, add a layer of broken pots or stones to the bottom to aid drainage.
- 2. Fill your container with a compost of your choice and horticultural grit. Mix the two together to guarantee a free-draining mixture. Fill your container to within a few inches of the rim to allow you to position your chosen alpine plants first.
- 3. Arrange plants ensuring that any alpines with a trailing habit are placed near the edges. Try not to pack too many plants in at once. Alpine plants will quickly establish themselves and spread out so don’t worry if you have some gaps, they will disappear quickly. Once you’re happy with your arrangement, start planting. Ensure you still leave a small rim after planting for some finishing touches.
- 4. Infill any gaps with more compost and grit, firming each plant down gently. Water in your plants, allowing any loose compost to settle into any remaining gaps.
- 5. To finish off, add a thin layer of grit or decorative gravel over the surface. This not only looks attractive, but it will also prevent foliage that touches the soil from rotting.
- 6. Position your container somewhere sunny and sheltered and allow the soil to dry out in between watering.
- Keep your alpines tidy by weeding regularly and removing any dead or yellowing foliage as required.
- Don’t water little and often. Instead, check your container regularly and only water if the compost is starting to dry out.
- Feed in mid-spring with a general liquid fertiliser.
- Alpines hate to be drenched by heavy, persistent rainfall, particularly in winter. If you can, move the container to a sheltered space in the winter, or in summer, create a temporary shelter during prolonged bouts of wet weather. Place a sheet of glass or plastic over the container on bricks, to allow air to circulate.