I have a couple of dozen hardy Auriculas, and they are looking particularly sad at this time of year – the new, fresh green leaves are smothered with the dead brown ones from last season.
So today I went out and tidied them up: removing the slimy dead leaves helps make them less attractive to slugs and other nasties, and gives me a chance to check each one individually (“How are you doing, my pet?”) for offshoots and general progress.
The first thing is to gently tip each one out of the pot and check the roots: plants in small pots are often vulnerable to earwig invasion, worms etc, so it's good to check that all is well, and to remove any infiltrators if you find them.
Next job is to carefully remove the dead leaves - I use an old pair of long pointed scissors for this job, as the old leaves rarely pull away cleanly, and I don't like to risk damaging the new leaves. So I just snip carefully around each one.
Third job is to remove any weeds from the surface of the pot, now that I can see it: in my cold, east-facing front yard I get a lot of Marchantia (Liverwort), those annoying weeds that produce flat green plates of growth, which appear overnight, then don't seem to be actively growing, but if you leave them for a week or two, you suddenly find that they have completely covered the surface of a pot!
Finally, having cleared the weeds and topped up the soil level if necessary – those Liverworts can easily extend ¾” downwards – I can top dress the pots with clean compost “nuts” to reduce weed growth and to make the pots look nice and fresh for the spring.
Now all we need is some decent weather, to set them growing!