Brian answers readers’ horticultural questions
I know you advise us to remove all dead flowers on plants in hanging baskets and I always follow your advice, but I have cross-pollinated surfinia petunia, red with blue veins. If I save the seeds, do you think I will get a new variety? I really want a red flowering petunia which has perfume. DL, Drayton.
When you sow the seeds in your greenhouse next year make sure you prick out every seedling. The weakest ones may be exactly what you are hoping to achieve. If you get the one you want, use a tiny artist’s brush to pollinate the flowers and put tiny bags over the flowers once pollinated and these seeds will all produce the perfumed blooms. This is the method used by our wonderful plant breeders, but as you will realise this takes a lot of time and patience. Excellent question!
We live in a wonderful elderly people’s complex and have taken out a lot of boring shrubs so we can grow flowers with perfume. We are going to plant wallflower Golden Bedder because we follow your advice, but some of we women would like to plant a batch of pink and purple shades of perfumed flowers which can be pulled out after they flower in the spring next year. You can see we do take your advice about planning ahead. All the residents at Southsea Sparkles!
What a great letter. Buy some Brompton stocks (pictured). They are available at garden centres. Buy them now, keep them fed and watered and plant them eight inches apart crow-foot style and they will come into perfumed blooms just after the wallflowers finish blooming.
JOBS FOR THE WEEK
Daffodil bulbs can be planted any time between now and the end of November, five inches deep for best results. Buy a few each week and avoid cheap ‘mixed’ bags. Select named varieties. Consider a drift rather than straight lines.
Amaryllis ,the hardy type, are now in garden centres. Buy three bulbs, plant in a sunny spot and you will be rewarded with flowers in the autumn forever.
If you enjoy visiting garden centres see if you can find some autumn-flowering crocus corms. The flowers are usually pink and show well when the weather gets colder.
Cuttings of bedding geraniums will root easily if taken now. Cut off non-flowering shoots. Cut below a node and pop them in alongside the parent plant. They root like weeds.
Orchids, bird of paradise plants and any tender indoor plants put out in the garden for summer should be brought indoors now.
Get hold of some manure. Keep it in the bags until you’re ready to dig it in during autumn.