P. Tricky woodland plants which are not easy to obtain, particularly as well-rooted specimens. They demand moist, perfectly-drained soil with no lime or chalk and should be kept away from strong sunlight. Leafy and/or peaty soil is ideal. Shortias can be grown between rhododendrons. Shortia galactifolia comes from North American woodlands. It bears large, bell-shaped white flowers tinged with pink on 4 to 5 in. stems in early summer. There is also a pink form. Foliage is glossy green, turning reddish-green in autumn. Shortia uniflora is a Japanese plant and is consequently often imported. The flowers are larger than in the previous species, pale pink with white veinings. S. u. grandiflora blooms more freely, is very variable in colour, ranging from white to various shades of pink.

Shortias can be increased by division when the plants have attained sufficient size — an all too rare occurrence! Seed, though very slow, is a better proposition but hand-fertilisation of the flowers may be needed, as seed is produced sparingly in this country. If seed can be secured, sow in spring in a cool compost consisting of leaf mould, lime-free loam and sand. Never allow the seedlings to dry out.

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