At this time of year, as the QVC garden season winds down (prior to the start of the gardeners gift shows), I like to take a couple of weeks off. This time we did something very special, and visited China and Hong Kong. We saw some incredible sights (the Great Wall of China is awesome), met some inspirational people and eat some great food (especially in Hong Kong).
There weren’t many horticultural highlights though, so it was good to return home to my garden, just in time for the autumn colour. This weekend, I need to do a bit of catching up. I’ll be tidying up, selecting the best of the dahlias to store before the first frosts hit them, and clearing pots ready for planting with tulip bulbs in early November.
While I’ve been away, I’ve received a fair few questions from QVC viewers, so in this this blog I thought I’d answer a few which have been selected by our wonderful web team.
I have just planted up my bulbs and I hope to get a good display, but what do I do with all the little bulbs that formed from last years bulbs? – from Christine Brunt
Christine has planted her bulbs in layers (as featured in a previous blog), and she should get a cracking display from them next spring. If the side bulbs are big enough, they can be planted directly into the ground or compost. However, if they are quite small, it’s best to pot a few of them in a small pot and grow them on for a year before re-planting in the garden. To speed up their growth, and future flowering potential, feed them every spring with Flower Power.
Is it normal for a rhododendron to be flowering in September? My Golden Gate rhododendron is breaking into flower now and it’s not waiting for spring – it has been well fed and watered all summer – from Maureen Bird-Ward
It’s not uncommon, Maureen, for this to happen. My magnolia has done the same! They’ve been tricked by the weather into flowering, but enjoy it as a bonus and it shouldn’t affect the flowering next spring.
Will the Richard Jackson premium natural fertiliser be effective on my borders if they are already covered with bark to prevent weeds from growing? – from Valerie Thompson
Recently, I’ve been telling everyone of the advantage of autumn planting and had suggested using my natural fertiliser to help get the best results. It’s also a good slow release feed for the borders and Valerie Thompson has asked if she can use it on the borders covered with bark chips. You certainly can, but you’d need to use it at a slightly higher rate (about 50% more) as the bark, as it gradually decomposes, will use up some of the nutrients.
One of my Chamaerops Humillis Compacta is powdery white. Is this mildew? It only arrived today. Should I send it back? – from Sue Thompson
It could be Sue, so please send customer services a picture and they will pass it onto the grower to advise. If it is, then we’ll certainly replace or refund. But it might simply be chalk deposits left by hard water.
How would you treat leaf curl on a plum tree? – from Wendy Blackwell
It’s due to an aphid attack, Wendy, and the easiest way to control it is to kill the eggs by applying Vitax Winter Tree Wash on a mild, dry day in Winter. If the problem reoccurs in the late spring, then a spray with Resolva Bug Killer, which should sort them out.
I have had some oleanders for 10 years that have never flowered. Please tell me what I am doing wrong! – from Annie
It could be that they are in too cool a position, they need a hot sunny spot for best results. It’s also important to feed regularly with Flower Power to build up the flowering potential, and also to prune in late winter or early spring (wearing gloves as the sap is harmful), to encourage lots of fresh young shoots.
That’s it for now. I’m off to potter in my greenhouse, and maybe sow some sweet peas while I’m there!