Note: summer falls on a Friday this year

Flowering socks - petunia Blue Vein
Flowering socks - petunia Blue Vein
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Wow! Aren’t we all busy in the garden. The weeds are growing like mad, the grass needs cutting, a visit to the garden centre offers us a wonderful choice of plants and we can’t wait for summer. It will be on a Friday this year.

Seriously, this is a good time to find seedlings that are ready for pricking out.

The safe date for planting tender plants is May 21 if you live over the hill, but in Portsmouth it is a few days earlier.

Brian Kidd

Take a look in your local garden centre and you should still be able to find seedlings and plug plants of your favourites, especially fuschias, as rooted cuttings.

However, a lot of plants for summer flowering do look very expensive.

For example, petunia Blue Vein which is wonderfully perfumed. They are about £1.25 each.

Now this might seem a lot of money but you only need three to fill a 16in hanging basket.

They flower their socks off all summer and if the dead flowers and seed heads are removed regularly, they will continue flowering until November.

But the great thing is that you can take cuttings from the original plant to get more value for your hard-earned money.

What do you do?

Once you have bought the plant put it into a 3in diameter pot containing any potting compost.

Water when the compost feels dry. Don’t forget to give it some Maxicrop Complete liquid plant food diluted in water and the plant will grow well.

In less than two weeks, in the greenhouse, the plant will grow and produce lots of side shoots. Here’s the exciting bit – these may be taken off as cuttings.

How do you do it?

Cut off shoots about 3in long. Remove the lower leaves and cut the stem just below a leaf joint (node) and insert the cuttings into any potting compost.

When inserting the cuttings, scatter half-an-inch of potting sand over the surface of the tray in which the cuttings are to be inserted. Water with a fine rose on the watering can and put a piece of newspaper over the top of the cuttings. They will root in about two or three weeks.

Once rooted, pot each rooted cutting into a 3in diameter pot and you should have five plants for the price of one.

This method can be used for lots of expensive plants such as scaevola, Japanese petunias, Verbena Sissinghurst pink, Bidens and all kinds of basket plants.

Now is the time to do it. Remember, buy the plants and take the cuttings.

Prick out the seedlings of F1 hybrid plants such as geraniums and Busy Lizzies but keep them in the greenhouse.

Jack Frost is still around while the hawthorn where you live is still in bloom and that’s a few weeks away yet.

Buy the plants but protect them from frost.

The safe date for planting tender plants is May 21 if you live over the hill, but in Portsmouth it is a few days earlier.

So, be careful and listen to the weather forecasts.


A very handy sprayer containing ready-made Roundup weedkiller is incredibly useful for spraying weeds in cracks in paths at this time of year.

Roundup kills all plants, but take care it does not drift onto cultivated plants.