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Facebook Q&A Session 19th April 2013

 

Thompson & Morgan Facebook Q&A Session 19th April 2013 - Your horticultural questions answered.


Click here to view details of our previous Q&A sessions.





Name: Ann Olson-Neumann

Question: My small Pear tree is ambushed by Bamboo, can I move the Pear tree now with buds on. Due to weather coulnt do it sooner. I live WEST LONDON/SOUTH EAST.UK. Thank you.

Answer: Hi Ann, as we’ve had a late spring this year you may be ok to move it now, although it’s generally best not to move pear trees if they are coming into flower or leaf. Ideally fruit trees should be moved between November and early March while they’re dormant. You can certainly try moving your pear tree now but just be aware that if it is coming into leaf it may stress the plant a little, as it will lose some of its supporting root system. Prepare the new planting hole before you begin lifting the tree from its current position. Choose a still, cool day to prevent the roots from drying out during the move. Give the main stem a wide berth and aim to lift a potential root ball diameter of about a third of the tree’s height. Dig a trench around the tree and gradually work around the root ball with a fork, easing soil away from the roots a little at a time. Finally, undercut the tree with a spade. Any large roots that cannot be lifted can be cleanly cut with a knife or saw.

Replant your tree immediately. Mix plenty of organic matter (well rotted manure or garden compost) with the soil from the planting hole, and insert a sturdy stake to prevent the plant rocking during windy weather. Gently position the root ball into the hole so that it sits at the same level in the ground as it did in its previous site. Backfill the planting hole, firm the root ball in, and fasten to the stake with a tree tie. Water well and spread a deep mulch (20cm, 8") to help conserve moisture at the roots, taking care not to mound the mulch up against the trunk of the tree. During the first year after moving you will need to water your pear tree frequently, especially in dry periods. You may well notice that it experiences a check in its growth this year, but be patient as your tree will need time to re-establish. I hope this helps Ann, good luck.


Name: Yvonne Osborne

Question: How can I stop my Antirrhinums from getting rust spots? I even bought some that were supposed to be rust free but even they got it and it spreads to other things like Fuchsias....thank you.

Answer: Hi Yvonne, this is a common problem with Antirrhinums and unfortunately this fungal infection can very easily mutate and adapt, infecting even the most resistant Antirrhinum varieties. The rust on your Fuchsias is a separate species of fungus although the symptoms are similar and treatment is the same! You can remove affected leaves as soon as symptoms are seen, to delay the spread of the infection. However the most reliable course of action is to use chemical fungicides such as ‘Westland Plant Rescue Fungus Control’ and ‘Bayer Garden Systhane Fungus Fighter’. It’s best to start using these from early summer onwards to help prevent infections in the first place. These normally need applying every few weeks although do check the manufacturer’s instructions. It helps to use fresh, vigorous new plants each year. I hope this helps Yvonne.


Name: Rebecca Zervou

Question: Hi T and M, I have 2 questions for you, 1.How can I propagate tree lillies? 2. What is the best way to grow night blooming jasmine seeds (do they need soaking etc and when is the best time to grow from seed? Thanks a lot :0)

Answer: Hi Rebecca, the easiest way to propagate tree lilies is through planting up the small bulbils lilies naturally produce, or by propagating from scales. Bulbils (baby bulbs) are produced along the length of the underground stems of lilies and sometimes in the leaf axils. It’s important to plant your lilies deeply, at about 3 times their height to allow stem roots to grow, and this will naturally encourage bulbils to form. In the autumn, once the foliage has yellowed and died back carefully excavate your bulbs and you’ll find the small bulbils on the underground portion of the stem. Simply break them away and pot them up into trays of compost or individually into modules, at about half an inch deep. Keep the tray somewhere cool but sheltered for the winter, such as a cold frame, cold greenhouse or garage and make sure the compost remains just moist. They can be planted out to their final positions the following autumn and may flower from the next year onwards depending on their size.

You can also propagate using scales, which are the leafy ‘layers’ of the lily bulbs. Using a good sized bulb, snap off healthy-looking scales as close to the base of the bulb as possible. Place the scales in a plastic bag with a mix of half compost and half perlite for good air circulation. Shake the bag to mix the scales with the compost and then fill the bag with air and seal it. Keep the bag in a warm dark place at about 21°C (70°F) for six weeks. Bulblets should appear at the base of the scales and these can be potted on individually. If the scales have become soft then remove them from the bulblets before potting on, otherwise they can be left attached. Keep the newly potted bulblets in a frost-free position to grow on but keep them cool during the winter months.

With regards to the night-blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum), now is a good time of year to start them so they can grow on throughout the summer. Simply fill your pot or seed tray with good quality, moist seed compost and sow the seeds thinly on the surface, covering with a light sprinkling of compost or vermiculite (they need light to germinate). Cover your container with a clear polythene bag and then place on the windowsill or in a propagator at about 18-20°C (64-68°F). They should start to appear anytime between 2-6 weeks. I hope this helps Rebecca, best of luck.


Name: Paul Britton

Question: Hiya Sue, last Autumn I was lucky to have my garden pond relined & re-slabbed on the perimeter. A new waterfall was incorporated, trickling into one of the corners. The first shelf will accommodate planters, any suggestions to what I could place plant wise either side of the bottom "lip" of the Waterfall to attempt to soften /semi - conceal the "lip". Cheers & thanks for the weekly information that you provide, very useful.

Answer: Hi Paul, for hiding the area at the base of the waterfall you could try marginal plants with a low, bushy habit such as the Water forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpioides), our native watercress (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum), Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris), Slender club-rush (Isolepis cernua) and Brooklime (Veronica beccabunga) which is evergreen. These are low-growing plants so if you would like something a bit taller try planting Giant Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris var. palustris) Mimulus ringens (Allegheny monkey flower), Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) or Flowering Rush (Butomus umbellatus). The Dutch rush (Equisetum hyemale var. affine) also makes a lovely evergreen, architectural plant with bold stripy stems. Equisetum hyemale var. affine and Caltha palustris prefer to have just a few inches of water over the top of the crown so to grow these you may need to place some bricks underneath your planters to raise the level slightly. I hope this gives you some ideas to start Paul.


Name: Angela Cantrell

Question: Can you please tell me if it is a good or a bad time to move a fig tree ....it is only about 4 years old thank you

Answer: Hi Angela, the advice here is the same as for Ann above! We’ve had a late spring this year so you may be ok to move it now, although it’s generally best not to move fig trees if the leaves are emerging. The optimum time to move them is between November and early March while they’re dormant. You can certainly try moving your fig tree now but just be aware that if it is coming into leaf it may stress the plant a little, as it will lose some of its supporting root system. Prepare the new planting hole before you begin lifting the tree from its current position. Choose a still, cool day to prevent the roots from drying out during the move. Give the main stem a wide berth and aim to lift a potential root ball diameter of about a third of the tree’s height. Dig a trench around the tree and gradually work around the root ball with a fork, easing soil away from the roots a little at a time. Finally, undercut the tree with a spade. Any large roots that cannot be lifted can be cleanly cut with a knife or saw.

Replant your tree immediately. Mix plenty of organic matter (well rotted manure or garden compost) with the soil from the planting hole, and insert a sturdy stake to prevent the plant rocking during windy weather. Gently position the root ball into the hole so that it sits at the same level in the ground as it did in its previous site. Backfill the planting hole, firm the root ball in, and fasten to the stake with a tree tie. Water well and spread a deep mulch (20cm, 8") to help conserve moisture at the roots, taking care not to mound the mulch up against the trunk of the tree. During the first year after moving you will need to water your fig tree frequently, especially in dry periods. You may well notice that it experiences a check in its growth this year, but be patient as your tree will need time to re-establish. Best of luck Angela, let us know how you get on.