Your gardening questions answered


Hi everyone,

Thank you to all those who have left comments on my blog – it's great to hear your views and to get your gardening questions. I've picked out a few of your dilemmas, and I hope you'll find the answers useful…

Trailing begonias Feeling confused, purchased trailing begonias from your show on TV, you suggested putting three trailing begonias to a basket and displayed a picture of a wonderful basket of begonias.
Having read your advice you now say to over fill baskets with plants to get a good show, my baskets have been made up for three weeks now with three plants to a basket – is it too late to add more plants?
Iris Ashworth

Richard: There's no simple answer to this, as it really depends on the type of plants you're using. For a fabulous display of Apricot shade begonias (sold in the begonia collection), I'd plant sixteen of them in a 40cm (16") hanging basket. But if I was planting the giant flowered picottee trailing begonias, I'd plant far fewer, just five in a 30cm (12") basket or eight in a 40cm (16") basket.

When I'm planting mixed baskets containing lots of varieties of different plants, that's the time I cram in as many plants as I can. If you've planted lots in the same basket, it's especially important to feed them regularly to help them all flourish. I use Flower Power as my feed.

Read my hanging basket tips and best plants to use.


My garden is overrun with slugs. I am not a huge gardener but it is definitely ''growing'' on me. I bought some new plants and almost the next day they had been eaten – very upsetting. Please can you help with the best thing to get rid of the little slimers? Don't mind if it's organic or not – desperation is setting in!!
Sue Lipscombe

Richard: Deter slugs by sprinkling a circle of sharp grit around vulnerable plants. If the plants are in pots, another good method is to tie a couple of strands of copper wire (about 1cm apart) around the rim of the pot – the slugs won't crawl over the copper.

Beer traps also work well. Sink a clean, empty margarine tub into the ground, with just the rim above soil level (to stop any beetles from falling in). Pour some leftover beer (if you have any!) into the tub and the slugs will be attracted by the smell, then fall in and drown.

You could also try biological control, which you water onto the ground – it's very effective and safe, but a bit pricey. Or simply use slug pellets, but don't overdo them: sprinkle the individual pellets about 15cm (6") apart.

I love growing lilies but I always get this black bug on them which ends up killing them. Can you please tell me how I can treat this?
Jean Spencer
Richard: It sounds as though they've been attacked by the lily beetle. Most people notice them as red beetles sunbathing on the leaves and don't realise the damage they can cause. Left alone, the beetles can strip a lily of all its leaves in a matter of days. You've described the larval stage, a little grub that hides in a layer of unpleasant black grunge. To get rid of the pest, squash the beetle and larvae between some leaves. But if you don't like the idea of that, spray with bug killer.

If you've got a gardening problem, feel free to leave a comment below and I'll try and answer it.

Watch this space for more answers soon.

Happy gardening,



  1. Stewart Mitchell March 10, 2009 at 4:21 pm -  Reply

    Hello Richard
    I was wondering if you will be bringing any raspberry bushes on to you shows with qvc. If when will they be shown.
    Many thanks
    Stewart Mitchell

  2. NORA BARKER March 12, 2009 at 1:29 pm -  Reply

    hi could i please ask richard if q v c will be getting rhubarb if not can he tell me where the best place is to get it from and how to grow it i used to love picking it in my grandads garden as a child and not healthy but we used to be given a small bag of sugar to dip the fruit into and really loved it it was a real treat
    thankyou nora barker

  3. Margaret MacDonald March 14, 2009 at 1:50 pm -  Reply

    As I want to prevent my giant flowering hisbiscus plants which I purchased a few weeks ago as a Today’s Special Value from being ruined, could you please advise which product I could use to stop cats from using the plant pots as a litter tray.
    Margaret MacDonald

  4. nita khanna March 20, 2009 at 5:52 pm -  Reply

    dear richard
    i have a shady and a little damp area in my garden and I would like to know whatr plants I can plant there. I would prefer something with a little colour and perennial. I don’t want just a short ground cover plant.
    Thank you

  5. Diane Wilkinson March 21, 2009 at 2:01 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard
    I ordered the tree Lilies yesterday TS and you mentioned a feed before you planted them can you tell me what feed and how I’m brand new to gardening have only a balcony but thought these looked fairly easy
    with thanks
    Diane Wilkinson

  6. Doris Mays March 24, 2009 at 11:52 am -  Reply

    Hi Richard
    received my 14 giant begonias today and I am a little dissappointed in their size. Definitely not as shown as TSV. There is a note with the bulbs telling you they are not as advertised but will be O.K.
    As you always say the bigger the corm or bulb the better the flowers. The biggest ones are pink three and half inches, but the smallest is yellow and red barely two inches. Just thought you should know and would value your comments. The pink ones are the only true size that you displayed on T.V. I feel we have been let down.

  7. Lorraine Sheppard March 27, 2009 at 5:11 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard, Can you recomend a lovely golden Laburnum tree that would be good to plant in a container in my garden as a memorial to my dad? Also, if so , where would you suggest I source it from? Thanks Lorraine

  8. john roberts April 1, 2009 at 6:37 pm -  Reply

    hi richard,
    a few weeks ago i the 15flower to one stem daffodils.i planted them when i got them but they are only show green leaves and these look more like chives could these be wrong also i got the pink daffs and the heads are showing yellow not pink.hope you can help

  9. Emily Davies April 1, 2009 at 8:53 pm -  Reply

    I have the apricot begonias and I have the long hanging pouches with 10 holes in them. How many begonias should I put in each pouch?

  10. Emily Davies April 1, 2009 at 9:19 pm -  Reply

    I have been given some begonias and would like to plant them in the long plastic pouches, each pouch has 10 holes should I plant one in each hole or should I do every other
    Thank you

  11. rob nanson April 13, 2009 at 1:41 pm -  Reply

    Hi richard,can you tell me what insect spray to use for my stella cherry.patio type

  12. Keith Parker April 13, 2009 at 8:40 pm -  Reply

    Dianthus—- last year and this year I have bought dianthus I pot them on for 8 weeks or more go to plant out and find they have no roots, you cant initially see the roots because the have that gause around them. Why no roots?????????

  13. Ella April 25, 2009 at 11:50 am -  Reply

    Hello Richard,
    I wonder if you can help. It appears that I have what is called Japanese Bind weed now growing in my garden beds and now into my lawn. I have tried all kind of weed killers but have not had any luck, the local council are not interested either. Do you have any miracle suggestions?

  14. janice clancy May 1, 2009 at 7:34 pm -  Reply

    hi Richard will any fruit trees be appearing on any future show such as peach or nectarine

  15. TONY BAYLISS May 4, 2009 at 1:34 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard
    On one of your previous gardening programs, you spoke about Prevado, or something simular for pests on Tree lillys, can this be used as a general insectecide say on tree peonies, apple, pear , or strawbery plants etc.

  16. mrs sorrell May 4, 2009 at 5:47 pm -  Reply

    I have two wisteria plants I bought 2 years ago but so far no flowers, where am I going wrong. They are in a sunny position in large potsand produce lots of leaves.

  17. Angels Wass May 5, 2009 at 4:28 pm -  Reply

    Hello Richard
    Please can you help me.
    I have a poinsettia which was purchased at Christmas 2007.I have followed the instructions and it began to colour leaves at Christmas 2008. Subsequent instructions advised me to cut the plant back in late winter. It is now sprouting new leaves which are deep red.
    I am confused from the several advices I have received and would therefore welcome expert advice. Will I have red leaves this Christmas, Richard?
    ps I bought some begonias from QVC earlier this year and thery are still are at plug size. Can you offer advice, Richard?
    Many thanks

  18. ann May 9, 2009 at 11:50 am -  Reply

    Hi Richard,
    Please can you help i brought the tsv chelsea flower show lillies. The buds came up nice and large turned yellow and dropped what did i do wrong they are in pots.
    Thanks Ann.

  19. Mrs. J. Davison May 18, 2009 at 9:27 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard,
    I have a beautiful Robinia tree which is about 25 years old. Unfortunately this year it seems to have quite a few dead branches and twigs and the leaves are very stunted in growth. To add to the problem, this morning I noticed wood pigeons eating what few leaves we have. Any advice on treating the tree and deterring the pigeons please?!
    Many thanks.

  20. Irene Roberts May 23, 2009 at 4:39 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard, I would like to hang a couple of baskets on the front of my house. Unfortunately the front faces north which means the baskets would be in the shade. What, if any, are the best plants for hanging in the shade? Thanks.

  21. caroline Borrer May 28, 2009 at 2:02 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard, I am desperate to know what is the problem with my aloe vera plant. It is a very large and usually healthy plant in the conservatory. Recently it has started to have twisted bent stems which are turning orangey brown at the end -almost as if it hasn’t any pulp in – I have watered it sparingly, sprayed it with mist and fed it with succulent feed. I don’t want to loose it as it is such a feature. can you help?

  22. Janet Robinson June 18, 2009 at 1:11 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard,
    Last year I had wonderful red poppies in my garden, but this year they are a very pale pnk. Why is this?

  23. Mrs Joan Aspin June 18, 2009 at 10:08 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard i bought the tree lillies when they where the tsv i have put them in the garden and 5 of them have been chewed of what can i do to stop this happening again. would it be better if i put them in pots till they have grown on quite a bit or is there some other way of protecting them.

  24. Delia Knight June 26, 2009 at 5:12 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard
    I puchased 560277 4 Hibiscu bare root
    only one of them has shown any sign of growing it is about 24″ high but the other three there is no sign of a leaf
    also the Begonia 561229 2 of them has not showing any sign of growth
    no other probems with my other plants that I have purchased please can you help
    Many thanks

  25. Yvonne Trehy August 10, 2009 at 1:59 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard
    I have 4 healthy Hydrangea bushes but for a few years have had few or no flowers. This year I had one small flower, What am I doing wrong?

  26. Josephine robinson October 8, 2009 at 9:05 am -  Reply

    I have scorched my lwwn by using too much fertilizer. Is ther anything I can do and will the grass grown again?

  27. sandra ward January 9, 2010 at 2:49 pm -  Reply

    dear richard,i rescued a pathetic creature of a gardinia plant from a local b+q it was in a large pot and all that was left was one 4inch twig with 2 pokey leaves and a bud.
    that was 2 years ago, it is now an amazing two foot by two foot plenty of leaves and more on the way but as yet no flowers. i need a bit of help as i have never grown these before. HEEEEELP?
    sandra ward

  28. Jill Dennis February 20, 2010 at 8:46 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard,
    I have a dilemma for you,
    we have four large conifers at the bottom of our garden, we original had five but one did not grow because the others blocked most of the sun from it. Here is my dilemma, the garden is beggining to irratate me as this gap needs filling, do you have any advice of what plants, preferably some with colour and hieght will grow in the shade that will fill the gap in.
    Thanks Jill

  29. Liz Carmichael March 4, 2010 at 3:37 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard,
    I’m based in Wiltshire and I’d like to grow several crops of early and main crop potatoes in succession as there’s only two of us and I don’t want a huge glut all at the same time. What’s the latest planting date for each type,how long can I keep the seed potatoes and where’s the best place to store my seed potatoes until I’m ready to use them ?
    Thanks, Liz

  30. John Davies March 23, 2010 at 11:48 am -  Reply

    I have bought some new scaffolding boards and I am going to use them to make a raised bed to grow vegetables. Is there anything that I can use to help to preserve the scaffolding board which will not harm the plants or anybody who eats them?

  31. W. S. Bryson April 19, 2010 at 10:52 am -  Reply

    I bought your Geranium ‘sky rocket’. Plants are healthy and growing well.The instructions don’t mention climbing geraniums so I don’t know whether to pinch them out or not. Your supplier won’t answer the question as they say you sold them to me.
    Trailing geraniums you pinch out, standard you don’t. Which instructions do I follow?

  32. Margaret Yeomans April 27, 2010 at 12:31 am -  Reply

    Hi Richard – I bought the Lady Boothby fuchsias last year – putting 2 on a sheltered SW facing fence, 2 on a sheltered NW facing fence and 1 in a pot which I brought close to the house for the winter. Growth was slow but promising and I did have some flowers. Sadly none of them came through the winter. I was under the impression that they were hardy. Should I have prepared them for winter treating them as half-hardy? Very reluctant to buy replacements. Would welcome your comments.

  33. Trish Tennyson June 12, 2010 at 7:17 am -  Reply

    hello Richard, i have mini fruit trees, on my yellow apple the leaves have some brown patches on like rust. what is this am i going to loose them, i have not grown fruit trees before. Please advise me what i can do, or use thank you love your show, i buy all my plants from you wonderfull. Trish Tennyson.

  34. pauline June 29, 2010 at 7:47 pm -  Reply

    Hello richard, I have what is commonly referred to as Horses Tails all over my garden, I’ve tried several weed killers with no luck, can you tell me what to try. Many thanks Pauline

  35. Irene July 22, 2010 at 12:18 pm -  Reply

    Hello Richard, Yesterday I received my japanese maple dual twisted tree. I have potted it up as per instructions. Should I remove the tape that binds them together at the top of the tree? I am concerned that this will restrict growth as the tree thickens out. I remember that you said to leave the tape at the bottom of the tree.
    i look forward to your reply.

  36. LIZ HOLDER February 21, 2011 at 5:03 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard have just received my hardy geraniums from thompson & morgan they are named but unfortunately it does’nt say what colour they are have tried qvc but so far they can’t help.have also tried t&m but not heard from them either here is a list of the names could you please let me know the colours please?

  37. Carole Zarins February 28, 2011 at 1:07 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard
    I purchased the TSV last week of 3 magnolia bushes for my new house which we will not move into until April. I am going to put them in pots to start them this year please advise me on whay time of year I should wait until to transplant them from the pots into the garden once we have moved in.
    Thanks very much and looking forward to some beautiful blooms next year

  38. phillip harmsworth April 3, 2011 at 12:56 pm -  Reply

    Hi richard. I recently purchased your flower power. I have planted some liley bulbs and they are now begining to pop up is it fine to feed them with flower power now. This is my first attemt at gardening and lileys are my favourite flower.

  39. gerard andrews May 6, 2011 at 3:33 pm -  Reply

    hi there richard is it ok to pinch out the tips of fuchsias know there in 3 inch pots and there winston churchill upright many thanks gerry in newry

  40. Victor Donovan May 8, 2011 at 11:07 am -  Reply

    HELP NEEDED URGENTLY – I have just planted 2 Fuschia Sunray (April 27th 2011) in large pots using Miracle Grow potting compost and I noticed this morning all the leaves are sheding. They were not attacked by any frost.
    Can you help solve this problem

  41. colin duffin May 12, 2011 at 8:25 pm -  Reply

    hi richard
    wonder if you can help me out with a problem i have got,,,,i am a beginner and i have put a lot of bark down and i am putting tubs on it and i have found cats are useing the bark as a litter tray,,,how can i stop cats using it

  42. carol parker May 31, 2011 at 5:09 pm -  Reply

    hi richard i got the set of 3 tree peonies last year and also the yellow one free this year as it should have been included with 1st set i gave one to my neighbour we planted in large pots kept well fed and watered but they have all died 3 of them never even got shoots on what have we done wrong i was so looking forward to them please help with some tips thank you from carol

  43. Sheila Paddock March 21, 2012 at 2:05 pm -  Reply

    I just received my Fuchsias and would like to know if it is alright to grow them on in the greenhouse..till such time as putting them in baskets thanking you from Sheila

  44. corinne fellows July 19, 2012 at 10:04 pm -  Reply

    Why havent my sweet peas flowered? They are disease free and look healthy.

  45. Mrs. Christine Evans February 27, 2013 at 10:22 am -  Reply

    Can you tell me if your new houseplant flower power has to be used all at once. How long will it keep. Also do redcurrants and blackcurrents have to be staked.

  46. Wendy Hudspith March 9, 2013 at 12:31 pm -  Reply

    Dear Richard
    Can you tell me when I should start spraying my roses with the plant invigorator, My roses were terrible last year with black spot and green fly, I am using your plant invigorator for the first time this year, I have just bought a two tubs of your flower power, it’s just wonderful, my roses were fantastic last year, apart from the black spot and green fly. I am going to order the double pack of plant invigorator in early may, but have a 10 ml invigorator to be going on with
    Best wishes wendy

  47. Wendy Hudspith March 9, 2013 at 12:39 pm -  Reply

    Good morning Richard
    I would like to ask your advice, I would like to buy a rose, my friend angel and her family have just lost their pet golden retriever called samson, their son david is only ten years old and is not going to school, and is in a terrible state, They live in America, so I have decided to plant a rose here for him take photo’s as it’s growing, And send david photo’s, I want a nice rose easy to tend too a nice fragrance can you recommend one I thought maybe a yellow colour with the dog being a golden retriever The rose is too go into a pot
    Thank you very much Best wishes wendy

  48. Anthony Blair May 6, 2013 at 11:41 am -  Reply

    Hi Richard A number of years ago the local council removed a tree from in front of the house we are constantly being plagued with mushroom coming up trough the Tarmac and at the side of our front wall we have tried to get rid of them but to no avail any ideas?

  49. Barry Fitzgerald January 19, 2014 at 9:46 am -  Reply

    Hi Richard I have a problem with worm casts in my loan I was wondering if there was anything else
    You sell on your program that will stop them.
    Yours barry

  50. KEITH STEVENSON February 4, 2014 at 9:00 am -  Reply

    Hello Richard
    I’m a little bit stuck on ideas for getting rid of aphids on my
    Honeysuckle plant when it’s ready to flower it ends up smothered
    in stickey stuff open to suggestions wouldyour plant rejuvenator
    Be suitable
    Frequent Viewer

  51. Lynda Ewart May 7, 2014 at 1:41 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard
    I purchased two bags of your compost. I opened a bag two weeks ago and when finished I sealed the bag and put it in my shed. I lifted it out on Monday to use but its full of white stuff and bits seem mouldy! Richard what is wrong with it and can I still use it?

  52. Jacqui May 11, 2014 at 1:45 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard
    I have just re-turfed part of my garden. I know it needs alot of watering but I was wondering if my Lawn Magic would be suitable to help it root.

  53. CHRISTINE July 23, 2014 at 2:31 pm -  Reply

    Hello Richard
    Do you have any advice about white spot on money plants, and what is the best way to deal with it please?
    Thank you,

  54. Rod McKenzie February 5, 2017 at 9:39 pm -  Reply

    Greeting Richard, A few years ago we purchased the Patio Valentine Apple tree, In the 3/4 years we have only had 2 apples, The tree is planted in a large pot, it is in a semi sheltered area and get full sun all day, it is on our watering system, and does get the occasional feed with your flower power, can you please advise what we are doing wrong, it is a solitary tree and is close to our cooking apple tree. This is the only plant purchased via QVC that has not preformed. Thank you in advance Rod

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