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Auricula Care Notes
Auricula Care in general.
In brief Auricula plants need a well-drained compost, they dislike being overwatered in the cooler months. They require shading from scorching sun in the summer but good natural daylight in the winter. They suffer from very few pests and diseases and don’t need heavy feeding. Auriculas are hardy and like the cold, so don’t worry about the frosts, just keep sheltered away from heavy rainfall and snow in the winter months.
At Woottens we release our Auricula availability each year in late February when propagation is completed. Plants can then be ordered for dispatch in late March. This is often the only availability release of the year so we recommend enthusiasts order early. On our website you can add your name to a ‘waitlist’ of any plants that are out of stock and you’ll be notified when they are available once more. However as demand for Auriculas is high we would also recommend subscribing to our newsletter to receive up to date information about the plants and availability.
Your Auricula Order
We dispatch plants once they have settled in after propagation, they may not have a pot shaped root formation but will have a good root system. Therefore the plants will not need repotting until early winter that year. If you wish to transport your plants into attractive containers we recommend doing so very carefully as compost may be loose in the pot and you need to keep root disturbance to a minimum.
Alternatively simply slip the plastic pot into your desired container.
Auriculas are categorised into seven main groups. Alpines, Selfs, Borders, Doubles, Stripes, Edges and Fancies. Alpines are easier to grow and most floriferous. Stripes flower a little earlier as a general rule and Doubles flower the longest. Edges and Fancies are unique and give us a wonderful array of patterns, and Selfs are the closest to the original Auricula species plant and some of the first to be hybridised.
Auriculas make delightful pot plants and we recommend growing them as show plants in small containers. Auriculas should be grown in a low fertility, loam based compost. We mix 50% peat (or peat substitute) with 25% grit or pearlite and 25% loam. Lime and a slow release fertiliser should both be added at 15 grams per 10 litres of compost. Never overpot Auriculas; their natural habitat is clefts of rocks in the Dolomites. Young plants can be grown in 7cm, mature plants in 9cm pots.
Alpine and Border Auriculas can make good garden plants, provided you have a good loam based soil. They will not tolerate dry sandy or thick heavy clay soils in which they will dwindle and die out. Although partial to a soil with some substance to it, Auriculas do not like to be too wet in winter; heavy soils need to be well worked and the drainage improved. In heavier soils Auriculas should always be planted with a collar of grit or gravel underneath the rosette.
When Auriculas come into flower, if the weather is inclement, flowers can be protected from rain and frost with an open-ended cloche. Auriculas in pots are best kept sheltered from wet and windy weather. After plants have flowered, plants should be shaded through the hot summer months. In the winter Auriculas are best kept under glass. No heat is needed in winter and the vents in the greenhouse must be opened on a daily basis. Auriculas will tolerate temperatures to -15 degrees or more. If a glass house is not available, then a cool room, shed, or cold frame is adequate provided it has good natural light and is ventilated daily
Auricula theatres should be sited on an east facing wall.
Watering & Feeding
From November to late February plants should be kept fairly dry. Watering and feeding in a warm, sunny spring should commence in early March. You can use a high potassium low nitrogen fertiliser every two weeks till flowering finishes. If light levels are poor, delay watering and avoid overhead watering as this will spoil the blooms and wash off any decorative farina from the foliage. Watering from March to June can be liberal. During the summer water in the evening when it is cool. Auriculas hate having their roots sitting in hot soggy compost; the roots will literally drop off.
Propagation & Potting
Auriculas should be repotted annually in late Autumn or early Winter. Remove all the old compost from the roots, split the clumps if necessary and repot. We propagate all our auricula plants by division each winter. Any offsets can be easily teased off the main carrot root and potted up. Always make sure you have a section of root, main carrot root and leaf to make a viable new plant. After division we sometimes feed the young plants with a high phosphate feed to encourage strong root growth.
On the nursery we do not use any chemical treatments on our plants, pests, diseases and fungal issues are controlled by regular observation, cleanliness and natural or biological controls. Repotting annually is essential. Plants benefit from the removal of dead leaves at all seasons, but particularly in winter, as decaying foliage is then most likely to become infected with botrytis. Plants should be deadheaded after flowering as open pollinated seed is of little value and seed production consumes valuable energy. When deadheading, remove merely the flower. Cutting the flowering stem at base can result in fungal infections. When the stem has withered, it can be gently plucked without any risk of infection. As with all Primulas, auriculas can be troubled with vine weevil, however we find that repotting once a year is an effective preventative method. In the warmer months you can use a predatory nematode to kill the larvae. Auriculas kept inside can also be prone to red spider mite or two spotted mite. We control this using a biological insect called Phytoseiulus but cultural controls just like damping down your greenhouse and removing infected plants to outside work well. Root aphid or root mealy bug can be troublesome but can be removed by washing the plants roots and collar completely in a mild horticultural soap.
See the RHS website for details on vine weevil and red spider mite
If you have any questions about auricula problems, growing or propagation you can email our advice line using email@example.com
Click here to view Auriculas Care Notes
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