Questions, answers and jobs for the coming week


BRIAN KIDD: A reader's question inspired by Remembrance Sunday, plus a list of jobs to be getting on with

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Brian answers readers’ horticultural questions

I have three hibiscus plants which are more than three years old, but none has flowered despite being fed. SB, Stamshaw.

If they are in pots plant them in the garden. Hardy hibiscus never do well in pots. If they are in the garden give them half an ounce of sulphate of potash per square yard over several square yards and fork this in right now. Water afterwards and you should have flowers next August.

Please will you tell readers not to use Stop Blanket Weed in ponds where frogs spawn as it harms frog spawn. JC, Copnor.

Thank you for pointing this out.

Please can you identify the specimen enclosed. My wife bought it in a group of plants labelled Confetti, it has self-seeded. VW, Fareham.

I don’t know why it was called Confetti. It is mimulus (pictured) – a beautiful plant which loves wet ground. Bees adore it. It flowers from June until the end of August. It’s wonderful in our garden along the stream.

I have a myrtle which is eight feet and I need to reduce it. When is the best time to cut it back to a small bush? TS, Waterlooville.

Cut this back to the shape you want, now. Give it a good soak with Maxicrop Complete garden feed and you will be delighted. Water a gallon over the foliage as well as the soil drench.

I love to hear from you. Enclose a stamped addressed envelope if you’d like a personal reply.


Reduce water given to cacti and dust off the pads with a small paint brush to smarten them.

Take cuttings of zonal pelargoniums. They root well at this time. Cuttings need to be four to five inches long. Remove any flowers and flower buds and leave just the top two leaves and growling tip. Make a sharp cut below a node and insert into a sandy compost. Don’t over-water.

Try to remove chickweed before it flowers otherwise it will cover the soil in winter. Compost the weeds.

Azaleas in pots should now be brought indoors. Clean the plants and give them a shake. This will remove dead leaves. They always lose some leaves when initially brought back indoors. Water with rain water.

Prune indoor hibiscus as soon as the flowers fade. Cut back all side shoots by half and nip out the tip. Water only when compost feels dry. Don’t feed again until April.

Woodlice eat soft fruits. Pick them off and put in the compost bin where they do an excellent job.

Amaryllis leaves should have died back by now, if not, cut off all the leaves and repot in John Innes number 3 compost but no water until you see the flower bud next year. The flower bud will be fat. If watered too soon, there will be leaves but no flower, so wait until the fat flower bud is visible.

This is a good time to fit another water butt, put a piece of stocking over the end of the down pipe to stop litter from entering. Rain water is very useful for all plants.