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Your Gardening queries - 29

September 2005   

Amazon book - The Royal Horticultural Society: Colour Your Garden

Gardeners like to share their tips and information with others, so each month I put some of the solutions here to problems you have written to us about, so everyone can have the benefit.




Please e-mail me with your garden problems, comments, or ideas for this section of laterlife.  Click here for previous editions of Gardener`s Diary.  


A selection of your gardening queries.


September 2005     

Q: Best compost for wallflowers

Can you please tell me which type of compost is best to grow wallflowers in Pots?

A: Usually, when I grow wallflowers in pots, I mix them with tulips and grow them in an all-purpose, peat-based potting compost, used for seeds, cuttings and potting on.. Whether it is the best compost or not I don`t know, but I get pretty good results..



Q:  Clematis not flowering

We moved to a new house just over a year ago. We have for the first time a garden which is home to several clematis plants which have yet to produce any flowers.. Could you tell why and what we can do to help them.


A:   Growing clematis successfully is a vast subject due to the many different types and their requirements, so instead of guessing at your problem I am putting a link to the British Clematis Society`s website:

Q: What do I do with potted lilies when they`re finished?

I live in southern England and have some lilies in pots. They stand about 5 or 6 feet tall with large yellow blooms which have now finished flowering. Could you tell me what I should do with them now that Autumn is just around the corner?

A: Any lilies I have in pots get put into the garden after flowering, because they flower so much better than in containers! You will find your lilies will grow in containers but will get weaker each year. If you want to keep them in their pots, allow the foliage to die down after flowering and just leave them overwinter in a sheltered place undisturbed. In the spring feed them when new growth starts..


Q: Sunflower leaves dying.

I'm looking after a friends sunflowers while he is away on holiday, and they are growing well. However, I've noticed that the lower leaves on each plant have gone yellow and withered. Is this normal or am I doing something wrong?

A:  They are OK, they are just putting all their energy into making the top growth and flower heads.. 


Q: Powdery mildew on honeysuckle

My honeysuckle has lovely foliage in the spring but as soon as it flowers the leaves drop off. There is evidence of a grey mould, is this mildew and how can it be treated, organically if possible as I don't like using chemicals?

A: Mildew normally occurs because a plant is very dry at the roots. Honeysuckles are woodland plants, so need moisture at their roots. Try plenty of water, and a really good mulch around the base. Thin the growth out a bit to get better air circulation.  Honeysuckles are happiest in a partially shaded spot where they can have a decent, moist root run.

Don`t expect your honeysuckle to improve this year, but next year should see a difference...


Q: Bindweed in our lawn

We had a new lawn laid about two years ago and gradually it has become covered with bindweed. We have tried Verdone weedkiller which appears to work but then it reappears, but more so!

A: Bindweed is very persistent, I would just keep mowing and eventually it will be starved of daylight and die off.. Have a look at the RHS advice sheet:


Q: Flies in my compost bin.

My compost bin has hundreds of small black flies which fly up every time I open the lid. They are also migrating to the conservatory. I have tried using newspaper over the vegetable material but they come back after 2 days. I have resorted to fly spray two or three times although I know that isn`t the solution.

A: These are fruit flies and are completely harmless, but of course not pleasant to have in the house. As their name suggests, they like the fruit in your compost heap... Bury any fruit or vegetable peelings with grass, so the flies can't get to it, or cover the top of the compost with a layer of soil.

If you regularly turn the compost heap this will help eliminate the problem too.


Q: Caterpillars in my mint

My mint plant is shrivelling up at the ends. Looking closer I saw a little caterpillar. Could you tell me what it is and how to get rid of it?

A: I am not sure what the caterpillar is, but you can spray them off with a jet of water from your hosepipe.. You could use an insecticide, but make sure it is one that allows consumption of the produce within a certain time of spraying..


Q: Weedkiller safe to use around animals

I have two very naughty bulldogs who will not stop eating the weeds that crop up on my patio. Could you recommend an animal friendly weedkiller that works as I cannot find one in my local garden centre.

A: I use Pathclear for killing weeds on paths and patios.. I keep my dogs indoors until it has dried and it is quite safe.. Pathclear has a new spray gun system which is much easier to use than the old granules which had to be mixed with warm water in a watering can.. That was very laborious and I felt it was not completely dogproof.. Here is a part of the label instructions from the Scotts Pathclear Gun!":-

"Ready to use spray weedkiller with dual action: Systemic and Residual. Systemic action will kill existing leaves and roots. Residual action kills seedling weeds before they emerge and continues to control new seedling weeds for up to 6 months. Children & pets need not be excluded from treated areas. Contains glyphosate & diuron. Keep away from children & pets.


Previous editions of your gardening queries: 

Edition 1

Edition 11

The new complete book of self sufficiency









Edition 2

Edition 12

Edition 3

Edition 13

Edition 4

Edition 14

Edition 5

Edition 15

Edition 6

Edition 16

Edition 7

Edition 17

Edition 8

Edition 18

Edition 9 

Edition 19

Edition 10

Edition 20


Edition 21 Edition 22
Edition 23

Edition 24

Edition 25

Edition 27

Edition 29


Edition 26

Edition 28




Please e-mail me with your garden problems, comments, or ideas for this section of  laterlife.

Click here for previous editions of Gardener`s Diary..  


       Alan Titchmarsh - How to be a gardener    Amazon Book - The Healing Garden    Amazon Book - RHS Plant Finder 2001 -2002    Amazon Book - "Home Front" in the Garden

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