BRIAN KIDD: Off with their heads – for a bloomin’ marvellous summer

Feed and dead-head, feed and dead-head - your summer mantra for stunning baskets.
Feed and dead-head, feed and dead-head - your summer mantra for stunning baskets.

SOUTHSEA GREEN: Happy seventh birthday

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The hanging baskets are looking good. Why? Because they’ve been watered regularly and given a little liquid feed every other day.

I find using the minimum amount of feed is best because the plants are in a very small amount of compost.

White and purple petunias in hanging pot.

White and purple petunias in hanging pot.

Think about it, every time they are watered the food they require is washed out of the compost. A bucket on the ground below the basket helps to prevent wasting water and can be used for another basket.

It’s a good idea to try to find a liquid feed which stays active in the baskets.

There is one called Maxicrop Complete liquid plant food. This has a seaweed base. When used from a watering can the compost drinks in the feed and the roots penetrate the compost to absorb the elements they need to grow and flower.

There are four different types of Maxicrop and they are all available at garden centres.

We use Maxicrop Complete for almost everything in the garden. There is another especially for tomatoes and another called ‘plant stimulator’ which is very good if your plants are not growing well. It gives them a bit of oomph.

There’s another with sequestred iron which is very good for plants that need extra iron – hydrangeas, azaleas, rhododendrons all benefit from this feed and heathers romp away after just one application.

During our normal cool summer, it is a good idea to use the Maxicrop for tomatoes BUT when it is very hot, plants don’t need so much potash, so it’s a good idea to change to Maxicrop Complete food.

Flat-backed, round-fronted baskets which fit on to a wall are doing really well. This is because the wall stops them from drying out in hot weather. The plants are also protected from the wind because they don’t fly around.

Feed them regularly and they should produce a mass of blooms and foliage.

To keep the plants growing really well, keep taking off the dead heads. Many good gardeners do this every day because they have learned that annual plants produce flowers which produce seeds, but if the seed heads are removed, the plant can’t reproduce and in desperation, they start to grow again as long as they have plenty of food.

The herbaceous border is also looking good. The delphiniums are now more than six feet high and each spike has been tied into a bamboo cane. Once the flowers fade, cut the stems right down to one foot, fork around the base and give them two gallons of Maxicrop Complete and they will send up replacement spikes in September. Not many people know this, but delphinium spikes in September are a great bonus when no one else has any!

Sadly the grannies’ bonnets have finished so the seed heads have been cut off. They won’t flower again this year but the foliage looks really pretty and because we knew they would be finishing flowering Pam has put in some Cosmos. These gems are cheap and if planted in gaps in a border they will produce masses of bloom right up until the frosts arrive.

Keep dead heading!

TIP OF THE WEEK

It’s time to start cyclamen again. Remove the tuber from its pot and all the old compost around it. Remove all dead leaves. Check there are no white grubs below the tuber. These are vine weevil grubs and must be destroyed.

After washing the flower pot and allowing it to dry, repot the tuber in fresh John Innes No2 or 3 making sure the corm is planted to half its depth. Water, leave outdoors off the soil until September or place the pot on a cool windowsill and the cyclamen will flower in the winter.