Brian Kidd: The snip which will keep them reproducing

Deadheading, feeding and watering - the secrets to good baskets.

Deadheading, feeding and watering - the secrets to good baskets.

Hellebore Christmas rose

BRIAN KIDD: Your questions answered and jobs for the week ahead

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Thank you so much for all your letters. I try to answer every one, either here or to you personally.

If you send a sample please remember, wrap it in DRY newspaper – no moisture, no polythene or Clingfilm and go to the post office to ensure the correct postage is applied.

This week’s postbag was interesting.

Many gardeners are complaining their hanging baskets are not good this year.

Apparently they lack vitality and the flowers don’t seem to last long. What is the answer?

The weather.

Hanging baskets can be really beautiful as long as we accept the plants are growing in small containers.

When you think about it, there will be about 21 plants in a basket which has only got little more than a bucket of compost in it.

The best plan is to take off every dead bloom every day. Especially petunias.

Petunias are really important because if they are allowed to set seed the parent plant will turn brown and die.

It can be difficult to find the dead blooms, but after a few days the dead flowers become crisp. A pair of sharp scissors, using just the tips will do the trick. The dead heads can go into the compost bin.

Bidens in baskets are wonderful. The flowers tumble down to make a waterfall of yellow blooms.

In the early part of the season they just look like ferny foliage, but once they become established they will bloom their socks off, right up until the first frost – as long as they are deadheaded every day.

Baskets need to be fed regularly.

This is very important and when judging it is easy to see who feeds regularly.

Some gardeners buy the recommended feed but don’t use it. I promise you, if you do use it, it will work and transform your baskets.

Chemical fertilisers feed the plants but if we look at the biological process we need to feed the compost.

The plants will take out the nutrients and grow beautifully.

Look at the directions on the bottle of Maxicrop Complete liquid fertiliser and use the weakest strength every time the baskets are watered.

Keep deadheading and you will have the best baskets ever.

If you suffer from the wind, use flat-backed, round-fronted baskets because the wall protects plants from the wind.

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