Questions, answers and tasks

The bottle brush shrub
The bottle brush shrub

SOUTHSEA GREEN: With Irene Strange

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Brian replies to your horticultural queries

My garden is full of ivy. Is there any way of getting rid of it? My peony has not flowered, what would you suggest? SB, Eastney.

Spray the ivy leaves with SBK brushwood killer. If you wait until November, dig out the peony and plant it in the opposite part of the garden. Make sure the tops of the roots are exposed to the light. Scatter an ounce of sulphate of potash over the soil you dig out and you will have flowers next May.

During the spring some new leaves appeared in my garden. They produced a six-foot high white spike of foxgloves which is a delight. How did this happen and can I keep it? EB, Copnor.

What luck. A bird dropped the seed. Foxgloves are biennial which means they are sown a year before they flower. Once the blooms fade and the seed pods become brown, save the seeds and scatter them onto the surface of the soil, a lot of seedlings will germinate. A few will be white but others will be different colours.

Our bottle brush shrub (pictured) is in full bloom with 100 flowers. It seems to be leaning to one side. I think this is because of the old seed pods. Can I prune it hard and if so, when is the best time? JR, Hilsea.

Prune once it has flowered. Cut back so all old seeds pods are removed. Fork the soil under the canopy and apply a dressing of Vitax Q4 pelleted fertiliser using about 4oz per yard run and gently hoe in and water afterwards. The shrub will flower on all the new shoots next June.


Take six-inch cuttings of indoor pelargoniums of all kinds. Leave just one pair of leaves and the growing tip and cut below a leaf joint. Insert in a sandy cutting medium and they should root in less than a month. Keep the cuttings shaded and moist.

This is the best time to take cuttings of all types of shrubs. Just take off the side shots of any kind of shrubs, yes, even camellias. Put the cuttings into a sandy compost mix in the shade and they will root in about four weeks.

Bud roses on to rose stocks planted last October. If you have never budded roses before and you like a challenge, get hold of a good book on how to propagate plants.

If you need to replace the strawberry bed this is the time to put three- inch diameter pots filled with compost into the soil close to where you see strawberry runners. Peg the runners’ tips into the compost using wreath wires bent like hair pins. The runners root in a few weeks. You will then be in a position to plant the new plants where you want them and at a time to suit you.