Gardeners’ Question Time, 19th Feb 2019

A very enjoyable evening with our 3 very knowledgeable experts yielded lots of good advice in answer to members’ questions:

  • Growing and showing shallots: plant in small pots and keep in a cold greenhouse. feed with onion fertiliser. Transplant in Spring, but don’t bury them. Sit them just on the surface. Thin to 3 or 4. If showing dry them off 7/10 days before the show. Remove loose skins and tie/whip the tops with raffia. Stand in a saucer of dry sand, Ideally round, uniform size and colour is preferred. No stains or thick necks.
  • When to prune flowering shrubs…general rule is to cut back after flowering ( or you lose that season’s flowers!). Prune spring flowerers after flowering. Later flowering plants can be winter pruned i.e. during dormancy and before they start up again in Spring.
  • Figs will fruit more readily if their roots are restricted in some way i.e. a narrow bed or close to a wall. Better soil conditions will encourage lushness, but less fruit.
  • Grow Pak Choi in rich soil and feed with fertiliser such as Grow-more. Water well and regularly. Plant successionally. Tender, avoid frosts. Can be container grown.
  • Growing fruit outside of a fruit cage? Try Japanese Wineberry… birds avoid it. Autumn fruiting raspberries may also succeed. Don’t forget to cut back hard after fruiting. ( it may help to provide alternative sources of bird food as well).
  • Camellias not flowering? Water very well in late summer/early autumn when flower buds are being formed.
  • How to preserve a cyclamen. Slowly dry-off after flowering. OK if leaves drop off. Restart with watering in late summer/early autumn. Water from below, stand in tepid water for 30 minutes. Don’t let leaves, crown get wet. Not too much sun.
  • Poinsettias… growers manipulate light conditions to encourage flowering. Difficult for amateurs to replicate. Buy a new one?
  • Lavatera Barnsley splitting/falling apart. Prune hard and low every year after flowering. Not long-lived anyway. Very hot summers may hit them hard.
  • Hellebores. Can be planted just about anywhere. Choose when in flower to see what you are getting.
  • Camellia chlorosis…give a dose of iron e.g. iron sequestrene.
  • Conifer hedging dying off. Possibly aphid mite. May not regenerate.
  • Feeding asparagus. Seaweed fertiliser, starting early.
  • Magnolia grandiflora (Large) not flowering. When planting avoid early morning sun. Water very copiously.
  • Moving an acer suffering from windburn. Dig biggest rootball possible ( root trench first if possible), before growth starts in Spring and move to a less windy spot. Protect with windbreak to get it re-established.

Many thanks to Ted, Ros and Bryan…and we hope you find some useful advice here.