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Novelty Plants 

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Novelty Plants

 
We continue this year to offer unusual tropical plants for you to try under the novelty section. These seeds were extremely popular again last year and are plants primarily for interest because of their utility background or unusual behaviour. Perhaps it was a plant you saw on holiday and you want to try to grow at home, or you just fancy growing tea, coffee, cocoa, cotton and many more?

Acmella oleracea
"Toothache Plant" or "Electric Daisy"
n£

Aprx 25 seeds £2.45   JS3479 

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Acmella oleracea is a native to the tropics of Brazil, where it is called Jambu, and is grown as an ornamental and as a medicinal plant in various parts of the world. A small, erect plant, it grows quickly and sends up gold flowers with a red centre. Both fresh and cooked leaves are sometimes used in stews but eating a whole flower bud results in a grassy taste, followed by an extremely strong tingling or numbing sensation. These buds are known as Buzz Buttons or electric buttons and the numbing effect helps toothache. Best grown as a tender annual in the uk.

Adansonia digitata
Baobab or 'Upside Down Tree'
n£

5 seeds £2.99   JS1923 

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Regarded as the largest succulent plant in the world, the baobab tree is steeped in a wealth of mystique, legend and superstition wherever it occurs in Africa. The main stem of larger baobab trees may reach enormous proportions of up to 90ft in girth. The massive, usually squat, cylindrical trunk gives rise to thick tapering branches resembling a root-system, which is why it has often been referred to as the upside-down tree. There is a tale which tells of how God planted them upside-down. Many traditional Africans believe that the baobab actually grows upside-down. Can be grown as an unusual house plant bonsai but the trick is not to water the plant at all from leaf fall to new growth emergence in spring. In its native land it only gets rain for 3 days a year!

Arachis hypogaea
Monkey Nut 
n£

15 seeds £1.92  JS1489

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Monkey nuts are neat plants resembling clovers. They can grow to 10 feet high but much smaller in pots with pretty yellow male flowers. The novelty is the female flower that sends out an aerial “peg” that extends all the way down to the soil, buries into the soil and produces up to four peanut seed pods 2” to 6” deep at the tip of each “peg”. Fascinating if you have not grown them before.

Bambusa arundinacea
Giant Bamboo n£
10 seeds £3.50   JS609

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A very popular jungle (Not hardy!) bamboo mainly from tropical Asia, clump forming and very tall reaching up to 30m high and culms 15-18cm in diameter. If you have room for some fun, have a go at this giant. The young shoots are edible but the plant is mainly used for building materials using the huge canes.
 

Camellia sinensis
Tea Plant n£
10 seeds £3.49   JS614 

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Always wanted to grow your own tea and coffee? Well here’s your chance, with this plant grown for tea in Sri Lanka and India. It is a member of the Camellia family with white flowers preferring warm damp conditions but no frost. I have read that the first commercial tea plantation is being considered in Cornwall now taking advantage of Global warming.

Coffee arabica
Coffee Bean Tree n£
10 seeds £2.95   JS344

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Such a well known commodity! But did you know that the plants make interesting house or conservatory shrubs with dark glossy green leaves, small white scented flower clusters followed by bright red coffee beans. Don't get too excited though about grinding your own coffee from the seed - it tastes awful if you do not dry it correctly! Eventually reaches 8ft, growing about 6" a year.

Coffee arabica Pre Germinated Seeds
Coffee Bean Tree n£
10 seeds £3.95   JS2076

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This should make it easier for you, just plant the pre germinated seeds about 1cm deep immediately on arrival in a small pot with a quality general purpose compost with the small root pointing down. Keep warm about 25C and keep the compost moist but not wet.

Cyperus papyrus
Egyptian Paper Reed nSS£
(Pr Pkt) £3.18   JS347

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Egyptian papyrus reed with the original paper made from the crushed and pulped stems. Easy to grow reaching 6ft to 7ft when mature. In the first year it makes a more manageable 3ft and is easy to grow from seed. Remember that it is a water reed and ideally will need to be left standing with the pot in tray of water. A decorative plant that we often grow as part of our summer bedding in a tropical border.

Delonix Regia
Flame of the Forest n£
10 seeds £2.42   JS844

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From popular demand we have added this magnificent tropical tree to our novelty seed list. This large tree flowers profusely in spring with sprays of scarlet flowers all over the bare branches before the new leaves emerge. It requires really hot dry conditions and is very difficult to keep alive over winter even in a heated greenhouse. The leaves though are attractive, similar to a jacaranda, making an interesting summer pot plant. I have placed this seed in the novelty section as prospects of it reaching flowering size in the UK are pretty remote. The tree bears long 2ft fruiting bean pods that I used to place in a "magic" circle when my daughter was an infant, anyone standing inside immediately became invisible - it was a magic tropical holiday game that she still remembers at 17!

Dendrocalamus giganteus
Giant
Bamboo u
10 seeds £3.18   JS2424

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Giganteus is the worlds largest Bamboo growing to 100 metres in the tropics with huge culms. Said to be hardy to -2°C when mature!

Dendrocalamus latiflorus
Taiwanese Giant Bamboo
u
10 seeds £2.99   JS2643

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Dendrocalamus latiflorus a main commercial bamboo variety for shoot production in China & Taiwan. A very attractive species with large leaves, and the strong culms are used for construction which grow to 20cm circumference and up to 24m tall. Hardy to about -4°C.

Dendrocalamus strictus
Nees MaNee's Male Bamboo or Iron Bamboo u
10 seeds £3.18   JS749

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An interesting novelty to try from India, Iron Bamboo is a giant grass which flowers, goes to seed and dies approximately every 60 years. Plants grown from seed reach full size in seven to ten years, possibly reaching a height of 50 feet and producing culms at maturity of four inches in diameter. Iron Bamboo grows in clumps approximately six feet in diameter. It is a sympodial bamboo and does not “run” underground, as do monopodial bamboos common to the temperate climate. When shooting, culms often grow as much as a foot each day and develop 85% of their strength in the first year. At the end of the second year, the culms have achieved 95% of their ultimate physical properties. Iron Bamboo is the world’s premier bamboo for furniture manufacturing, since unlike thin-walled, hollow bamboo, it does not split when fastened with screws and nails. Its “nail-ability” and the fact that it rarely develops external surface cracks as it dries makes it a preferred structural material for buildings and fences, as well as for furniture. (Not hardy!)

Desmodium gyrans
Telegraph Plant 

10 seeds £2.21  JS1989

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Another really unusual plant that actually moves its leaves about under certain conditions. Small lateral leaflets rotate on their axes and jerk up and down within a period of about 3 to 5 minutes early in the morning as the sun warms the plant to around 22°C. Patience may be needed to observe this phenomena but the plant is easy to raise from seed and soon makes a small shrub in a warm greenhouse. As far as we know the only four plants that show any leaf sensitivity movements are, Desmodium gyrans, Mimosa pudica the sensitive plant, Venus Fly Trap, and Averrhoa carambola the star fruit tree.

Dionaea muscipula
Venus Fly Trap nS£
15 seeds £3.95   JS621

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This has got to be one for the kids, I remember as a child playing with one of these plants for many hours feeding it flies and small spiders, and seeing if I could react quick enough to miss my fingers once the trap had been triggered! Slow growing though from seed but worth the challenge to own one of these unusual novelties.

Ecballium elaterium
Squirting Cucumber nS£
10 seeds £3.20   JS969

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Another plant for the masochists out there with mischievous young children, looking for suitable revenge! Rough sea-green leaves on wandering stems to 1m or more and yellowish flowers followed by exploding inedible mini ‘cucumbers’ from July to frosts. These fruits explode to the touch when ripe, squirting out a thick gooey mess of seeds. I have read that it is hardy to about -5°C!

Elettaria cardamomum
Cardamom n£
10 seeds  £2.21    JS1997

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A member of the Zingiber family, this well known tropical spice from India can grow to 12ft with typical ginger leaves. They need warm conditions and must not dry out and love rain nearly every day in their natural habitat. The Cardamom pods are not likely to develop in greenhouse conditions though but the plant is aromatic throughout the stems to leaves. Slow and erratic germination because of the hard seed coat.

Ficus benghalensis
Banyan Tree n£
20 seeds  £1.95    JS3276

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Ficus benghalensis is native to India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Although Banyan can get 100 feet tall with massive limbs supported by prop type roots that spread over an area of several acres, it can also make a beautiful bonsai tree. As it grows, Banyan produces aerial roots that hang down from horizontal branches and take root where they touch the ground. These vertical "prop roots" can create a forest on their own.

Banyan should be positioned in an area where it gets half shade or moderately bright light. Houseplants should be kept at 10°C to 25°C in the Summer and above 10°C in Winter.

Glycyrrhiza glabra
Liquorice Plant n£
10 seeds £1.44   JS2787

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This is the European plant that produces liquorice, used commercially for sweets, baking, ice cream and drinks, and in some medicines. The Egyptians used this plant for its healing properties and is one of the most widely used in Western Herbal Medicine. The roots are harvested at the 3-4 year stage from seed and boiled to extract the liquorice. Best grown under glass for the first winter planting out the following spring after frosts have finished. The plants (a member of the pea and bean family) require a deep loamy soil with roots that can reach 4ft in length!

Gossypium hirsutum
Upland or American Cotton Plant n£
10 seeds £2.41   JS2335

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The cotton plant easily grown from seed will flower in the first year with hollyhock like yellow and maroon flowers followed by seed heads that when mature burst open to reveal white bolls of the American or Upland Cotton. Grows to about 3ft.

Gourd Bottle or Birdhouse
Bottle Gourd nS£
10 seeds £2.21   JS3214

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We have often been asked by customers to offer this one on its own and not just as part of the large Gourd Mix. It has a large round bottom section connected by a narrow neck to a smaller round upper section. Harvest when the smooth, greenish rind turns white or starts to brown. Excellent dried for useful bottles or ornaments etc.

Gourd Dinosaur
Large Strange Gourd nS£
10 seeds £2.21   JS1987

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A very unusual club gourd with raised "veins" A new item for us and a real novelty that I will certainly be growing next year in our seed trials.

Gourd Speckled Swan
Ornamental Gourd  nS£
10 seeds £2.21   JS3213

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This one reminds you of a swan with its fresh dark green skin colour, with light green speckles. Grows to about 12" from the curve in the neck to the base of the fruit but a few fruits may have necks that do not bulb out. Very unusual and good for drying.

Gourds Autumn Wings
Ornamental warted Gourds nS£
10 seeds £2.21   JS2992

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This ornamental gourd mix is a delightful assortment of deeply winged, warted pears and other shapes. The colours are vibrant, extraordinarily eye-catching and ideal for tabletop decorating.

Gourds Large
Mixed Shape Large Gourds nS£
10 seeds £1.78   JS358

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I have had great fun growing these again a few years ago in one of my greenhouses. Don't be fooled by the pictures these are monsters some up to 3ft long! Fully ripe and allowed to dry out in a warm room over winter they turn "wooden" making excellent Maraca ornaments that can be varnished or painted.

Gourds Small
Small Gourds Mixed nS£
10 seeds  £1.78   JS359

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These are more like small marrow plants with a wonderful colour range of ripe fruits to make a very ornamental bowl for the table. Easily grown in pots and planted out in the vegetable garden alongside your courgettes after all frosts have passed. The trailing vines can be trained up wigwam poles, a fence or left to run over the ground.

Pumpkin Ornamental Mixed
Large Ornamental Pumpkins nS£
10 seeds  £1.95   JS3477

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This mixed selection of ornamental pumpkins will produce a gourd like crop in the autumn in multiple colours and shapes including Turks Turban. A great display decoration for an ornate dish to brighten up early winter days. A bit like the small gourd mixed but with larger varieties included in the mix.

Kale Walking Stick
Jersey Cabbage or Giant Walking Stick Kale n£
20 seeds £1.95   JS2715

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A great novelty vegetable that can reach over 6ft tall with a cluster of edible leaves at the top. At the end of the season the stems can be cut off and polished to make a walking stick. If the plants are left over winter in a mild season they may grow even taller to 10ft!

Luffa

Bath Loofah nS£
10 seeds £1.78   JS360

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This Gourd can be dried and the skin removed to produce the old bath Loofahs - do you remember these for scrubbing your back? Easy to grow from seed.

Mimosa nuttallii Pink Sparkles

New for 2015!

Hardy Sensitive Plant n£
10 seeds £2.95   JS3568

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Pink Sparkles sensitive plant is a close relative to Mimosa pudica but a bit more winter hardy. Some seed suppliers are suggesting that it is winter hardy but that is not the case but able to survive cool winter conditions as a house plant or under glass better than Mimosa pudica. Fluffy pink flowers and touch sensitive leaves with a prostrate habit.

Mimosa pudica

Sensitive Plant n£
Aprx 20 seeds £1.85   JS362

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If you have small grandchildren or children you must try growing this unusual plant. Only reaching 12" or so high it has delicate ferny foliage and pretty small pink flowers.

However the leaves fold up at the slightest touch recovering in 10 or 15 minutes back to their original form hence the name!

Nelumbo nucifera

Lotus Blossom! nSS£
5 large seeds £3.73   JS970

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The Lotus is an aquatic plant requiring plenty of space and a full sun location to thrive. It is nothing less than spectacular in bloom, with soft pink blossom up to 8” across, opening on top of a stiff stalk emerging directly from below the water. The leaves are enormous, sometimes reaching 2ft across. You will need an indoor pond in a heated environment for this one! The seed can remain viable for up to 200 years but is tricky to germinate. We provide special germination and growing instructions.

Nicandra physalodes
Shoo Fly Plant n£
Aprx 20 seeds £2.13   JS2192

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A fast-growing bushy plant reaching a height of 3ft to 4ft. It has large lobed leaves, and large pretty blue flowers, followed by papery seed pods containing a large berry which look similar to the Chinese lanterns. The common name refers to the fact that it is regarded as a deterrent to whitefly if mixed among other plants in a greenhouse or outdoor crops. Best grown as an annual

Ochroma pyramidale
Balsa Wood n£
10 seeds £3.95   JS971

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The Balsa Wood tree produces one of the lightest and strongest woods, pound for pound stronger even than oak and long used in model making. A handsome specimen for sunny tropical climates with huge 2ft diameter soft attractive leaves easily grown under glass. One of the fastest growing trees known but in our trials they only reached 6ft in the first year. The small seeds need a high temperature of around 30°C to 35°C to germinate.

Ornamental Corn Fiesta
Ornamental Corn  n£
10 Seeds  £1.89   JS1541

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A hybrid mix of the best ornamental corn for dried decoration. This unique Indian corn includes various tones of blue, red, yellow and white. Earlier than other Flint corn and averages 7 to 10 inch ears with 50 to 70% having attractive ornamental purple husks.

Oryza sativa
Japanese Rice - Koshihikari n£S
Approx 40 seeds  £2.85   JS2055

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Grow your own Paddy field? This is the premium rice of Japan, distinguished by its aroma, sweet flavour and sticky texture. Also, dried stalks are beautiful displayed in flower arrangements. Harvest time about 5 months and contrary to expectations it does not need to be waterlogged to grow well, just regular watering! Worth a try for the novelty factor? Maturity: Approx. 160 days

Papaver Somniferum Giganteum
Ornamental Poppy Pods
(Pr Pkt)  £1.89   JS1539

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These poppy flowers are beautiful and grace gardens world-wide. The pods are very popular in dried flower arrangements, and the seeds are commonly used in baking. Giganteum grows the largest seed heads of all larger than golf balls and more like the size of a snooker ball.

Rain Forest Mix
A Rain Forest Jungle Tree & Shrub Mix n£
Approx 50 seeds  £6.95   JS1270

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If you want to try something different we offer a mix of more than 25 tree and shrub species native to tropical rain forest regions, all suitable for pot culture if you have warm humid conditions available, or as a short term house plant. A rare and exciting mix typically including (note not labelled separately):- Bixa orellana, Bolusanthus speciosus, Caesalpinia pulcherrima, Eugenia floribumda, Cananga Odorata, Cassia didymobotrya , Cassia fistula, Cyphomandra betacea, Delonix Regia, Dendrocalamus giganteus, Ensete ventricosum, Enterolobium cyclocarpus, Erthrina berteroana, Erythrina amazonica, Erythrina arborescens, Erythrina crista-galli, Erythrina lysistemon, Hymenosporum flavum, Jacaranda mimosifolia, Jatropha curcas, Jatropha multifida, Lagerstroemia indica, Lagerstroemia speciosa, Musa paradisiaca , Ochroma pyramidale, Psidium guajava, Schizolobium parahyba, Swietenia mahogani, Tabebuia rosea, Tamarindus indica, and Tectona grandis. (Note: Contents subject to availability)

Scorpiurus muricatus
Prickly Caterpillar nS£
10 seeds  £1.75   JS2991

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Scorpiurus muricatus is an annual native of southern Europe preferring full sun. The hairy pods are narrow and twisted like a caterpillar rolled upon itself. Low-growing plants make a nice ground cover and are sure to be a talking point in your garden. The "caterpillars" can be added to salads to surprise unexpected diners, but not really meant to be eaten, because they are so hairy. Kids will love this!

Solanum mammosum
Titty fruit or Nipple fruit n£
10 seeds  £2.13   JS2024

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A small shrubby perennial that can be grown as an annual. Usually grown as an ornamental for its unique fruits, the plant also has a few medicinal properties. The juice of the fruit shows some detergent activity and can be used for washing clothing.The nipple fruit is related to the naranjilla and tomato, and the plant looks similar. Bushy shrub to 3-6ft capable of cold conditions if kept frost free. The pink-purple flowers develop during spring and are followed by the waxy, yellow colored fruit ripening a few months later. Fruits are poisonous.

Stevia rebaudiana
Sweet herb of Paraguay n£
10 seeds £3.16   JS1746

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Sweet herb of Paraguay (10 seeds Pr Pkt) n£
Stevia rebaudiana is a herbaceous perennial, which is normally used as a natural herbal sweetener and a native to South America where the native Guarani have used it for over 1500 years to sweeten otherwise unpalatable medicinal drinks. Dry stevia leaf is up to 30 times sweeter than sucrose and in Japan about 40% of the sweetener market is stevia-based.

Stevia needs warm conditions and grows best in a well drained but damp acidic soil. The plant grows to about 1 metre and it is only the leaves that are harvested and can be used dried. Germination viability not high but once you have a plant growing it can be propagated by cuttings. Stevia rebaudiana does not have clearance to be marketed in the European Community as a food, so please only grow this as a novelty and not for consumption.

Swietenia mahogany
Mahogony Wood n£
10 Seeds  £2.42   JS973

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Ahe original mahogany of commerce. Sometimes seen as a handsome shade tree in the tropics, but quite rare in the wild after over harvesting of the valuable timber. Shiny pinnate leaves make it an attractive small pot plant as a novelty.

Tacca chantrieriá
The Bat Plant!  n£
10 Seeds  £3.95   JS651

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A peculiar, black flowered tuberous based perennial, with a flower like bat wings, hence the name. This plant comes from monsoon rain forests, it will need a warm humid position to do well. A spectacular pot plant and a great talking point with your mother-in-law! We also offer the rare white form Tacca nivea.

Tacca nivea
The Bat Plant!  n£ 
10 Seeds  £3.95   JS972

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A rare white form of the Bat Plant. These plants have got to be worth a try just for the novelty. Everyone I show a Bat plant to are simply amazed and usually have never seen one before.

Tectona grandis
Teak Tree
  n£
10 nut like seeds  £1.89   JS1231

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The original Teak of commerce. A handsome tree in the tropics with large green/yellow leaves and tolerant even of the occasional light frost. Makes a handsome pot plant with the large leaves assuming that you get past these seed pre treatment instructions I found on the internet.

"Either pour boiling water over the seed; or immersion in cold water for several days; or scorching in a light fire of leaves and grass (be careful here not recommended to try this indoors!) ; or alternate soaking for 24 hours then drying for 24 hours repeating the process for 12 to 15 days; or placing in a weak acid solution for a few minutes (I am not sure of the concentration so please do not try this one); or plain weathering outside in the summer for a few weeks; or lastly placing the seeds in a paste of cow dung and water for few days! (please do not ask us to supply the cow dung)"

Triffid Pack
Novelty Pack of Fast Growing Monster Plants  n£
£5.95   JS3051

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For anyone with a sense of fun, or like me have never really grown up, we have put together a novelty pack of "Triffid" seeds, all of these monster plants either grow tall and/or have huge leaves. I have included a mixed packet of each of the following seeds
 

  • Amaranth Lotus Purple (8ft)

  • Amaranth Giant Orange (8ft)

  • Chenopodium giganteum (8ft)

  • Ricinus Zanzibarensis Huge leaves (15ft)

  • Ensete Ventricosum Giant Banana (12ft 2nd year)

  • Helianthus Kong sunflower (12ft)

  • Solanum quiotense - Huge Triffid leaves (6ft)

Variegated Cat Grass
Hordeum vulgare variegata
  n£
Aprx 500 seeds  £2.95   JS3452

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Variegated Hordeum vulgare or Cat Grass is becoming really popular and now the most fashion-conscious cats can satisfy their craving for grasses and their discerning eye with this one variety. Speedy from seed and simple to grow, it's excellent for a sunny windowsill or garden beds where your pet roams. Even if you don't have a cat to pamper, it's a gorgeous ornamental and excellent as a contrasting accent plant in containers or beds. When left untouched, plants can reach 2-3 feet. Cats go nuts for this delicious easy to grow grass. It helps with digestive issues, helps with hairballs and adds roughage to their diets and keeps cats from eating potentially harmful house plants. Can be grown all year round indoors and outside after frosts have finished.

 

Symbol Code

Germination --- Easy n, Moderate n and Challenging n

Backlog for Fresh Seed --- u     New Seeds not in Catalogue ---«

Hardiness --- ] (To -5°C) ]] (To -10°C) ]]] (To -15°C) 

Growing Symbols ---  £ Sunny position £ Shady position S  Lots of Water