Gardening: Your horticultural headaches soothed... by Brian Kidd

Stunted hydrangea blooms? Temperamental sweet peas? Mister Know-it-all next door on the allotment? Here’s how to deal with them.

Sunday, 16th August 2020, 2:41 pm
Don't let hydrangeas' roots dry out.

Q: My hydrangea blooms are only half the normal size this year. What can I do to get them back to normal? MD, North End

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A: This isbecause of a severe lack of water, Fork over the ground lightly to a depth of only two or three inches and give them a couple of gallons of water twice a week. If you don’t fork over the soil, the water will not penetrate the roots.Q: My perennial sweet peas are in a large pot and climbed up to the top of the obelisk then suddenly died back. They shot up again after I cut them back and they have now died back again. I need your advice please. I adore perennial sweet peas. HS, Havant.A: I share your admiration for these lovely climbers. They don’t like being restricted in pots of any kind because the roots grow down to more than two feet. This is one of the reasons they are perennials. The best idea is to plant them in the garden. If you can’t do that is it possible to take out a paving stone and plant them in that space? They don’t need a lot of room. They simply need to produce a massive root system.Q: The plot holder next to my allotment seems to know everything but I just listen and get on with the jobs. He has bought garlic and planted the bulbs yesterday. I think it’s too early and too dry? What do you think? GL, PurbrookA: You are right of course. They will grow and then dry off suddenly and this will happen within three weeks. The best time to plant garlic is after mid-September but after that wait until we have lots of rain.

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