GARDENING: Brian Kidd's suggestions for flowers for the greenhouse bench

A wonderul host of Achimenes
A wonderul host of Achimenes
Sango-Kaku coral bark maple

GARDENING: Brian Kidd solves your horticultural headaches

Time to plant your maincrop potatoes.

GARDENING: Plan your weekend gardening with Brian Kidd

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This is a busy time for gardeners. We are wrapped up in our huge list of things that need to be done, things like which plants shall we have in the greenhouse besides tomatoes and cucumbers?

It’s good to have tomatoes on one side of the greenhouse with a bench for colourful plants opposite.

Have you considered gloxinia corms? I wrote about these a few weeks ago and you should be able to find them in bloom at garden centres and nurseries. The flowers are gorgeous with supporting, deeply-veined attractive leaves. They're easy to grow in any potting compost.

Another great favourite are hot water plants, so called because they don’t like being watered with very cold water. Try to get your hands on achimenes. They are difficult to find at garden centres these days because people don’t buy them any more. If you're interested in unusual varieties, go online and type achimenes and you will find specialists who grow nothing else.

Primula obconica is lovely but some people are allergic to the hairs on the backs of the leaves. Primula malacoides doesn’t have this problem and the seeds can be sown this week. Primulas need light to germinate well so after scattering the seeds on the seed tray, lightly cover them with vermiculite and germination should take place in three weeks

To prevent damping off disease, use copper mixture (in green drums at the garden centre) dissolved in clean water. Put the solution in a

bowl of water, place the seed tray in the bowl and allow the compost to absorb the liquid. After 10 minutes, the surface of the seed tray will glisten. This means the compost is saturated and can then be placed where the seeds are to germinate.

Fuchsias are the best plants for flowers all summer in the greenhouse and there are thousands of varieties available at affordable prices. We are talking less than a pound for a rooted cutting.

Simply pot cuttings into a three-inch diameter pot and nip out the tip to encourage side shoots. For a mass display, take out the tips of the shoots after three pairs of leaves mature and pot the plants into 4.5in pots in any potting compost. Feed the plants for a month with a weak solution of liquid tomato feed and by the end of July flowers will emerge. If they are deadheaded daily, they will continue to flower until the really cold weather sets in.

A good tip if you are just starting growing plants in a greenhouse, choose varieties of fuchsia with small flowers. These will be smothered in blooms whereas if those with large flowers are chosen, there will be far fewer flowers.

Finally, coleus. These are invaluable to fill gaps on the bench and the varied colours in the leaves completely finish off the display. If a plant of another kind dies during the summer a coleus will fill that gap.

THIS WEEK'S TOP TIP

Repair bald patches in the lawn. Prick the surface so there are dozens of holes an inch apart and two inches deep ready to receive a top dressing of seed and compost.

Mix 1lb of best quality grass seed to 10lb of moistened seed compost and leave this mixture in a black polythene bag for seven to 10 days. You will see the seed start to produce tiny roots. Scatter the mix over the patches and water it in. The new grass will form in about six weeks. Water if the weather is dry.