Our horticultural expert Sue Sanderson runs a fortnightly question and answer session - so if there is something that has been eluding you in your garden, post your question on our facebook page and she will get back to you during her next Q&A; session.
View the answers to our previous sessions.
I'd like to know what to do with a lot of my plants mainly fuchsias, they have all their new growth all the way up the top half of the plants when they usually sprout from the bottom. Should I still cut them right back as I usually do?
Hi Yvonne, it has been a mild winter so your fuchsias probably haven’t been knocked back by frosts as much as they normally would. Summer-flowering shrubs such as Fuchsia and Buddleja produce a better overall shape, and bigger and better flowers if pruned hard in the spring. I would prune all the stems back to the lowest healthy bud or shoot you can find, creating a low framework. Fuchsias are vigorous plants and you should soon start to see new growth. Apply a slow release fertiliser to the base of the plant and a mulch of manure or compost to help give your plants a boost. I hope this helps Yvonne, best of luck.
I have some Kleim’s Hardy Gardenias; this will be year 4 and still no flowers. Do feed every summer when feeding pots. How can I get them to flower? Kept in cold greenhouse first 2 winters but outside for last 2.
Hi Julie, Gardenias originate from open woodlands and savannah in tropical or subtropical areas of the world and as such do like to have plenty of light and warmth, even in the winter, as they are evergreen. Placing them in a relatively sunny position throughout the summer should help to stimulate flowering. It is often recommended that indoor Gardenias are shaded from direct sunlight, but outdoors Gardenias are growing in a much cooler environment and need all the warmth they can get. Over winter, a cool greenhouse or conservatory will be appreciated to offer a little protection. It's also worth having a look at the fertiliser you’re using. A fertiliser with a high nitrogen content can encourage leaf growth at the expense of flowers - try using a high potash fertiliser. One other thing to consider is that any check to growth, such as drought conditions, can prevent flower buds forming or abort those which have already started to form. Make sure the compost stays relatively moist, particularly during hot weather to give your Gardenias the best growing conditions possible. I hope this helps Julie, let us know how you get on.
I purchased a 5 ft Umbrella Pine last year. I wrapped it in burlap this winter to protect it from winter winds and the majority of it is now brown. The tips are green. The brown needles are not falling off as yet and they are still flexible. I live in Michigan so zone 5. I want to know if it will "re-green" up. I done some research and can't find an answer. Any ideas?
Hi Kimberley, if the branch tips are green your umbrella pine (Pinus pinea) may be ok – they are pretty tough trees. The brown needles will unfortunately never re-green themselves as the tissue is dead; you will have to rely on the branches sprouting new shoots. It’s normal for stone pines to hold on to their brown needles for a while before dropping. Hopefully by late spring or early summer your pine tree will show new signs of growth. I hope this helps, best of luck.