GARDENING: Brian Kidd answers readers’ questions

Azalea Indica.
Azalea Indica.
Clever crows have managed to eat Brian's strawberries even though they're covered in netting.

GARDENING: Jumping crows have eaten Brian Kidd’s strawberries

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Our horticultural expert solves your problems.

Q: We were given a lovely azalea, it has finished flowering and new shoots are growing. Previously we have not been able to keep them alive as we forget to water the pot. Can this type of azalea be planted in the garden? We do have acid soil. L and PB, Waterlooville.

Hebe pagei

Hebe pagei

A: Azalea indica is grown outdoors at Wisley and looks wonderful. When you plant it dig a bowl-shaped hole much wider than the root ball. Give the plant a good soak, fold in the soil and water afterwards. Azaleas love moist soil and semi shade.

Q: How can I prune my hebe pagei ?

A: Prune when flowering’s finished. This hebe rarely gets too tall but grows too wide. Here’s a trick. Pick up a handful of outer branches and cut off about five inches ensuring it still has nice green leaves. Go round the shrub repeating and water well afterwards. You will have a neater plant if done carefully.

Q: Can you tell me the name of this lawn weed please? [This sample was in dry newspaper and arrived in perfect condition] BD, Southsea.

A: It is called pearlwort and indicates the lawn needs a summer fertiliser. If you look at selective lawn weedkillers at your garden centre you will be able to find one which will kill pearlwort.

Q: I grew two rows of shallots as you recommended last autumn and they look wonderful. When should I dig them up? GC, Eastney.

A: If you need some straight away just pull out one or two but they will be ready to take out once the foliage turns brown, usually in early August. Much depends on the weather.

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