Where we grow auriculas.
We live near a stream in a fairly damp part of South West Wales, in a valley which traps the sun and holds on to the frost. Our auriculas are now planted in free draining beds, some under an Acer tree which gives dappled shade through most of the day.
Three more raised beds, two above the stream and the other in front of the pavilion, lots of grit and spent compost have been added, although the beds are in sun, the auriculas are happy. I am keeping a few favourites in pots in the pavillion.
Our compost mix
Into a compost tray; 2 buckets John Innes No. 2, 2 buckets good quality compost, 1 bucket vermiculite with grit. Added to this, a 3 inch pot of bonemeal. We have used a peaty compost in the past but found the watering more difficult to gauge as we live in a damp atmosphere, finding a good quality compost without too many woody bits and barbed wire is not easy! Even the John Innes mix is not so good nowadays.
The plants sit in large trays on a bed of grit sand – a depth of about an inch, kept moist and changed every year. The damp atmosphere in the trays helps to combat red spider mite and root aphid as does a fine water spray given to the leaves in warm conditions. Watering in the hot weather is done in the evening by placing the pots in a tray of water for a few minutes. In the coldest part of Winter watering is done sparingly on the top of the pot from a small (fine spout) watering can.
Root Aphid and Red Spider Mite
Root aphid appears around the neck of the plant protected by a covering of a cotton wool like protection, also it can manifest underneath the pot and is not always obvious unless the pot is picked up and inspected carefully. We take the plant out of the pot, remove all compost and thoroughly but carefully wash the roots and leaves in plain water. Methylated Spirit on a soft brush is used as an extra precaution over the roots before re-potting. Red spider mite is not visible to the naked eye, it can multiply by the thousands and can quickly cause havoc to plants. It may not be obvious at first, limp sad yellowing leaves on close inspection will show a tiny network of silky webs, they feed usually underneath the leaves. This pest can also be kept at bay by mist spraying regularly, as this pest too likes dry conditions, some growers will use a systemic insecticide or spray. The grit-sand used in our trays is kept quite moist through the late spring, summer and early autumn and is replenished each year.