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Facebook Q&A Session 25th November


Thompson & Morgan Facebook Q&A Session 25th November - Your horticultural questions answered.

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

Name: Jessica Hope

Question: Can Sue please identify this plant for me, the leaves are very similar to a pelargonium, when the leaves are rubbed they smell like lemon very strong scent but has never flowered. This was a cutting from a 6 year old plant but again the parent plant had never flowered. I have taken a few cuttings and given them to family but again no flowers!

Answer: Hi Jessica. You’re right – this is a Pelargonium. One of the main reasons for Pelargoniums not flowering is a lack of light, which can cause them to make tall, spindly growth. Next summer try placing your plant in a sunny spot in the garden. It can stay there throughout the summer, but you will need to bring it back indoors for autumn, of course. Hopefully a generous dose of sunshine will encourage it to bloom, although bear in mind that many of the scented varieties have fairly small, insignificant flowers.

Note from Sue - As it is a quiet session this week I have had time to check your picture with a collegue who is a pelargonium specialist. Here is what she said:

"It look like it's Pelargonium graveolens. It should flower but if there was something wrong with the original (which can happen, but very rarely, where some geraniums don't produce flowers) then all cuttings taken from the mother plant will follow the same pattern.

To try to get it flowering I'd advise the following. Cut it back to about a third of it's size - which sounds harsh but it will bush out from lower down and make a better shaped plant. Cut the main stem in a straight line just directly above a set of leaves and the stem will heal over at that point. It looks to be in a warm sunny place so if that is correct, then that can be done now as it looks safely out of frosts. It could do with going outside from June to September to get maximum light. Keep it in the same pot as this looks fine. Try tomato feed from March onwards which is high in potash and encourages more flowers - or our geranium fertiliser of course!!"

Name: Jessica Hope

Question: Picture for Sue, mould on my lawn. The grass is yellowing in places too, the lawn feed i used was Evergreen autumn feed around 4 weeks ago. Thanks.

Answer: This looks like fusarium patch which tends to occur at this time of the year during mild autumn weather. There are lots of climatic conditions that encourage the disease to spread at this time of year, including reduced daylight, lack of air movement, morning mists that are slow to clear, and night temperatures that are milder than the seasonal average. High nitrogen feeds can also exacerbate the problem. Fusarium is easily identified by small patches of yellowing lawn that will turn brown as the grass dies back. A cobweb or cotton-wool like growth can often be seen on the affected areas, particularly in the mornings.

Unfortunately it can be a bit tricky to control as there are few treatments available to gardeners. You could try Bayer’s Garden Lawn Disease Control but there is a likelihood of re-infection. The best means of control is to ensure that you maintain a really healthy lawn. Improve the drainage of your lawn by spiking it all over with a fork and brushing in a sandy top dressing. You can encourage better air movement by trimming back any overhanging vegetation, and passing a switch or bamboo cane across the area to remove morning dews will also help it to dry out quicker during the day.

You will probably find that the problem will start to clear up on its own in the spring, but you can help recovery by improving your lawn maintenance and re-seeding the dead patches.

Name: Jessica Hope

Question: Hi another question for sue, me and my son would like to grow strawberries from seed for next year. Can you please recommend a variety that will fruit all summer long, we plan to plant them in the ground and not containers. Many thanks.

Answer: The best option for all season cropping would be to grow several varieties with slightly different fruiting periods to ensure a continuous supply. Our Strawberry Full Season Collection is ideal for this. It is sold as runners (bareroot plants), so planting them this winter would provide you with a reasonable crop next summer.

However, if you prefer to grow them from seed then you will need to be a little more patient as they will not provide a crop until at least their second year. I would recommend that you choose an everbearer such as Strawberry ‘Florian’ or Strawberry ‘Sarian’ that will fruit throughout the summer.

Name: Jessica Hope

Question: Sorry another question for Sue, i have a very large flower bed which i would like to edge (enclose) with a box hedge to add all year round interest. How do i go about doing this and what type of box/buxus plants would i need as obviously they would need to be of a dwarf variety. I promise this is the last question for next week! Thank you once again.

Answer: Hi Jessica. Looks like Kevin has given you some good planting advice so I will stick to your question about which type to use! I edged my herb garden path at home with Buxus sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’. This is a dwarf variety of box with a slightly wider, rounder leaf than the normal Buxus sempervirens, and a much slower growth rate. You should be able to pick up some bareroot plants at this time of the year which is much cheaper than buying in containers. They won’t take long to fill out and in a couple of years you will have a nice little hedge forming.

I keep my hedge at a height of about 30cm (12”) and it is very easy to care for. I tend to wait until at least mid summer before I prune it; partly to avoid any late frosts and partly because the fresh Spring growth looks so attractive. One tip that is well worth noting is that Box is best pruned during overcast weather as young growth is prone to sun scorch. But don’t worry too much if this happens – you will be surprised at how quickly it will recover.