Brian answers readers’ horticultural questions
Q: Can you tell me the name of this weed please? It has stems like bamboo and leaves like dock. How can I get rid of it? HK, Portchester.
A: It’s Japanese Knotweed. Cut every stem down leaving 4in of hollow stems. Fill them with Roundup diluted in water according to the instructions. This is the only way to get rid of it forever and it will do the trick if you fill every tube.
Q: I got a cutting from my neighbour’s garden. What is its name and how do I look after it? SB, Stamshaw.
A: The leaf was mangled in the post but it looks like canna which has elegant leaves, loves a sunny spot in the garden and should have flowers in late summer. It is easy to grow.
Q: I planted carrots in peat in a potato sack but they are small and curled. James, Farlington.
A: Peat is not the best medium. Use good quality loamless compost at least 10in deep. Keep the plants well watered but not waterlogged. A deep box would have been better.
Q:The tips of the branches on my Cox’s Orange Pippin have masses of curled leaves and a grey appearance. Then they turn brown. DRT, Titchfield.
A: This is a combination of greenfly and spur blight. It’s a massive job, but you should remove all infected tips, put them in a bucket and dispose of them. You can prevent this if you spray the tree with copper fungicide just as the leaves unfurl and use soft soap you can find at your garden centre. Dissolve the soap in hot water, then make up the spray with cold water. The dilution rate is on the tub.
JOBS FOR THE COMING WEEK
Take cuttings about 6in long of indoor pelargoniums of all kinds. Leave one pair of leaves and the growing tip and cut just below a leaf joint. Insert in a sandy cutting medium and rooting should take place in less than a month. Keep them shaded and moist.
This is the best time to take cuttings of all types of shrubs. Just take off the side shoots of any kind of shrub, yes even camellia. Put the cuttings into a sandy compost mix in the shade and they will root in about three weeks.
Bud roses on to rose stock planted last October. If you have never budded roses and you like a challenge, get hold of a good book on how to propagate plants. Propagation is very rewarding. When successful, you feel great.
Do you need to replace the strawberry bed? This is the time to put 3in-diameter pots filled with compost in the soil close to where you see strawberry runners. Peg the runners’ tips into the compost using wreath wires bent like hairpins. The runners root in a few weeks and you will be in a position to plant the new plants where you want them at a time to suit you. Strawberry plants in pots can be planted at any time. Find the plants which produced the best fruit. The ones with red leaves are not good enough to propagate. You may be surprised at the size of the berries on the new plants. It makes all this effort worthwhile.
Got a question for Brian? E-mail him via firstname.lastname@example.org.