GARDENING: Brian Kidd solves your horticultural headaches

Sango-Kaku coral bark maple
Sango-Kaku coral bark maple

Readers letters and e-mails

Q: I have an acer palmatum, variety Sango Kaku, and it needs a larger pot. I have a bag of Champak compost will that be OK? What size pot would be best? WR, Denmead.

A: Repotting can be done now and the compost is suitable. Do not break up the root ball. Use a pot with a hole in the base and cover the hole with a piece of broken flower pot. The pot should be about four to six inches wider than the original. Put four little feet below the pot so worms cannot enter the base. This will guarantee good drainage too. There will be no need to pot on again for two or three.

Q: I have a patio plum tree in a small pot and feel it needs another, larger pot. I have bought one and took the advice from the garden centre about the size. Shall I shake off all the old compost before repotting? FS, Old Portsmouth.

A: Fruit trees grown for patios are successful and it is an excellent idea to shake off all the old compost and repot into JI No3 compost, but mix in 10 per cent extra sand and mix it really well. When repotting never allow roots to dry out and water as soon as the job has been completed.

Q: Every year my broad bean plants start well but as the flowers emerge the leaves start to turn brown. I think this is because of a fungus. Can it be prevented? WK, Copnor.

A: You are correct, it is caused by a fungus and there are several. The answer is to spray now with Copper Mixture, according to the instructions on the green drum, for copper deficiency. Repeat after three weeks for excellent control. If you notice the lower leaves are serrated, spray with Py ready-made organic pesticide and this will protect the plants from bean weevil.

Q: I have not been well and have come home to see my roses have shoots about three inches long because I was unable to prune them. Will they be OK if I prune them now? BD, Southsea.

A: Prune them really hard and instead of having to look for outward pointing buds you will cut back hard to shoots. Give them a feed of rose fertiliser in a month's time.

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