BRIAN KIDD: on how to save polyanthus and potted roses

Polyanthus: dig them up when they finish blooming.
Polyanthus: dig them up when they finish blooming.

SOUTHSEA GREENHOUSE: Enjoying an early harvest

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Our gardening expert answers your e-mails and letters and sets you to work in the coming week.

Q: I bought my polyanthus last October after reading one of your articles. They’ve been wonderful. How do I keep them for next year? LD, Cosham

A: When they finish blooming dig them out, screw off all the foliage and plant in the shade. Use blood fish and bone fertiliser, 4oz per yard run and plant 5in apart. Keep watered and plant where you want them to flower in October or November.

Q: My friend told me to take off all the old soil from roses I have in pots. Is it too late?

VL, Waterlooville.

A: Do it as soon as you can and cut them back REALLY hard. Use John Innes No3 compost and you’ll have the best roses ever.

Q: There are dead shoots on my Japanese maple. Can I remove them now? CP, Purbrook.

A: Prune out the dead shoots straight away. Ensure the cuts are made just above a leaf joint.

Q: We have a sumach tree in our front garden but there are suckers growing in the lawn. We don’t want to dig holes in the lawn. What would you suggest? M and FL, Cowplain.

A: Cut off each sucker with secateurs and dab neat rooting hormone liquid on every cut. This will cause the shoots to produce roots but will stop new growths.

JOBS FOR THE COMING WEEK

• Antirrhinum and stocks already pricked out into seed trays can be put outside now. They’re fairly hardy. Have fleece ready to cover them if nights are cold.

• Buy seeds of perennials. Most gardeners sow these in early May in seed trays in the greenhouse.

• Why not fix an automatic ventilator in the greenhouse roof light? Useful when you’re on holiday.

• Beware hot spells. Greenhouse plants will quickly scorch. Have newspaper ready to cover them.

• Take red bracts off poinsettia tips. Cut back each stem by a third. The cuts will bleed a poisonous white liquid. Use tissue to mop it up and wash hands. Pot into the next sized pot in JI No2. Water the day before repotting.

• Canterbury bells are lovely plants and this is the time to sow seeds for blooms next year.

• Remove dead flowers and seed heads on daffs and tulips.

•Spray roses with Roseclear 2 to prevent disease.

• Try to take advantage of a dry spell to plant maincrop potatoes. Make sure the tubers are covered with at least five inches of soil. Scatter blood fish and bone meal fertiliser along the rows using 3oz per yard run and work this into the surface. Finish by leaving a ridge of soil over the rows of planted tubers. When earthing up, try to use sieved compost but to each barrowload of compost add 1lb of sulphate of potash well mixed with the compost. This reduces slug damage really effectively. The potash burns the slugs.

• Ground dug over in autumn may now be smothered with chickweed and other rapidly growing annual weeds. Walk on a plank and spray the weeds with Weedol. You will find this is a ready-to-apply sprayer and will kill them off in a few days, but needs to be done before the weeds come into flower. Try to do this on a sunny day for the most rapid results and don’t allow the drift to touch cultivated plants – especially the neighbours’!

Thank you for taking my advice, I hear you talking about me at garden centres all the time!

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