Brian Kidd has tips for saving fuchsias and tasks for the weekend

Iris unguicularis stylosa.
Iris unguicularis stylosa.
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Here we go with this week’s readers’ problems

Q: We have a clump of iris stylosa. We want to divide it in two. How? And when will be the best time? H and LT, Lee-on-the-Solent.

A: Dig the entire clump out at the end of March with two digging forks back to back thrusting the prongs into the clump to make the division. Replant immediately. They will flower well next winter. If split into a lot of small pieces there may not be blooms for two or three years.

Q: My African violets have good leaves but won’t flower. Any suggestions? HB, Eastney.

A: Remove one in three leaves when the weather is warmer in March. Not all in one place. Remove one leaf, leave the next two and remove the next one all over the plant. In April feed with liquid tomato fertiliser once a month but stop after September.

Q: The flowers on my camellia are in full bloom but a lot are falling off. HLD, Hill Head.

A: Nothing’s wrong. It’s simply the dreadful wind.

Q: I dug fuchsias out of the baskets and potted them up for the greenhouse. They look dreadful and the leaves are dropping. I want to plant them out again in the summer. SP, Fratton.

A: Cut them back very hard. Reduce the main stems by two thirds and every side shoot to just two nodes. Put the pots close together and in a few weeks new shoots will appear. Keep them just moist. Once leaves appear give them more water, a little weak feed, a bit more space and plant out after mid-May.

Q: I bought three packets of tulip bulbs because they were greatly reduced. Do you think they will flower this year or would it be best to keep them in the packets and plant them in the autumn? AL, Horndean.

A: Plant them now. You will have a wonderful display but plant them so there is two inches of soil over the top of each bulb, This is very important. If you leave them in the packets they will not flower. My word, you got a real bargain.


If all the leaves on a pot of poinsettia have dropped, don’t be too concerned. Just enjoy the red bracts. In a few weeks cut every stem back leaving only 2in of stem on every side branch and new foliage will appear. You will have a lovely-looking house plant.

Did you install a soil-warming cable in the greenhouse? A lot of you did because there are only a few left at local garden centres.

Germinating seedlings must have good light. If not, the stems become long, thin and weak. Wash the greenhouse glass with Flash floor cleaner. When rinsing, add two tablespoons of vinegar in a gallon of water. This gets rid of the limescale in our local water.

Check all indoor plants to ensure there are no whitefly around. If you see any, squash them and rub off any eggs which you will see on the backs of the leaves. This will prevent a build-up of thousands of the little blighters.

In the greenhouse, hang yellow traps up just above the plants. Give the plants a gentle shake occasionally and the whitefly will fly on to the sticky traps.

If you have frogs or toads in the greenhouse, they will need water so they can spawn. A sunken dustbin lid filled with water fits the bill. The rim must be at the same level as the soil level otherwise they won’t be able to get in and out.

Don’t leave it too late. There are only seven weeks left to move trees and shrubs.

Prune blackcurrant bushes. Remove the wood which fruited. You will see where the fruit was because there will be fine stems left behind where the fruit was last summer.

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