Questions, answers and jobs for the coming week

Earwig - the clematis-muncher.
Earwig - the clematis-muncher.

BRIAN KIDD: From pom poms to cactus, dahlias just keep on giving

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Brian answers readers’ horticultural questions

Q: Something is eating the foliage of my clematis and my camellias looked really good but there were very few blooms. I would appreciate your advice please. MP, Petersfield.

A: The clematis is being attacked by earwigs. Put some newspaper in little pots held in place on canes and they will go into the paper. Each morning squash the earwigs on smooth paving. To encourage flowers on camellias make sure the roots are wet during late summer and autumn. Scatter only half an ounce of sulphate of potash over several square yards next week and water the area well.

Q: I have two different types of grasses which are not normal. They form clumps and spoil the appearance of my lawn. Can you tell me what to do please? SS, Cosham.

A: The one with the thick stem is cocksfoot and the other is Yorkshire fog. To eradicate these nuisance weeds you will need to be very patient indeed. Use a comfortable kneeler and concentrate on one square yard at a time. Use a sharp kitchen knife and holding the clump of grass cut off the roots with the knife and put every piece into a bucket. Mow more regularly with a cylinder mower.

Q: I found slugs on my streptocarpus and thought I had got rid of them but there are slug trails on the leaves. Slug pellets don’t work. What would you suggest? SAC, Gosport.

A: See if you can find Slugclear at your garden centre. This liquid slug killer is excellent. Simply follow the instructions on the bottle.

JOBS FOR THE COMING WEEK

Watch out for leaf curl, particularly on plums and cherries. Underneath the leaves there are hundreds of aphids. Simply cut off the infected tips and put the prunings into a bucket to ensure the pests won’t escape. Now spray the trees with a spray which will kill aphids. Do it in the evening after the sun has gone off the trees.

Transplant seedlings of Sweet Williams in rows 18in apart. If you forgot to sow the seeds they can be sown now.

Tie in stems on dahlias. On large varieties, three canes may be better than one. Dahlia foliage is very heavy after rain.

Keep deadheading all flowering plants to ensure the blooms keep forming, particularly on annuals.

Bend new shoots on climbing and rambling roses so they form an arch shape. This will ensure blooms will be borne on the sides of the shoots, not just on the tops.

Feed sweet peas with Maxicrop Complete liquid feed and remove every seed pod to keep them blooming for longer.

Thin out apples and plums so none of the fruits touches each other. Spray afterwards with copper fungicide which you will find at your garden centre. It is in green drums. This will PREVENT brown rot on plums.

Sow seeds of winter turnips and large rooted radish for winter soups. Dust the seedlings with ant killer dust to prevent flea beetle damage. (Tiny holes in leaves with crispy brown edges on the leaves).

Cut back all side shoots on cherries, nectarines and peaches by half the length of the rapidly growing shoots. This will encourage flower buds on the parts you leave behind. These buds form next year’s fruits.

Take cuttings of all types of Daphne, side shoots three inches long are ideal. Plant them in 75 per cent sharp sand with 25 per cent peat or peat substitute. Keep them in the shade but they will take many weeks to root.

Got a question for Brian? E-mail him via features@thenews.co.uk.