Answering your gardening questions


Here are a few questions I’ve received in recent months. Please share your questions in the comments section below, and I’ll endeavour to answer them in my next post!

Janet says she has an un-opened bag of my compost which she bought last May and wonders if it will still be OK to use? Yes, you certainly can, as long as the bag has been kept dry. If rain has got in , and the compost is very wet, it would be best to dig it into the garden, or add it when planting in the border.

Recently I launched my Garden Health Kit, featuring a range of products, all of which are approved for organic gardening, that sort out most of the major pests in the garden , including slugs, ants, greenfly and lily beetle. Sarah wanted to know if it also controls vine weevil. Sorry, it’s about the one pest it doesn’t! I’d recommend using a biological control, which are sold by most mail order suppliers.

Now the weather has warmed up, and we’re starting to plant out our summer bedding, it’s time to start feeding your plants with Flower Power. It’ll make a huge difference. Most gardeners use a watering can to apply it but Maggie asked if it can also be used in a hose-end sprayer. Yes, it can, but only in the Flower Power hose-end sprayer which uses a special venturi system that dilutes the Flower Power at the right rate all the time you use it.

If you’re using the sprayer with Flower Power, do make sure the fertiliser is fully dissolved, I strongly recommend straining the dissolved liquid through a tea strainer before adding to the spray bottle.

One of my favourite, easy-grow summer bedding plants is Cosmos Sonata whose beautiful daisy-like flowers brighten up the garden for months. Philip posted a question asking what size pots they should be grown in? As the plants get quite large, I’d grow one plant per 30/35cm pot, or three in a bigger pot. My multi-purpose compost is perfect for them as they especially enjoy the free draining texture of my special mix.

When growing cosmos, you should pop them in a sunny spot, keep them well watered, feed twice a week with flower power and , just as important, remove the finished flowers to stop them from going to seed (and that means they’ll flower less).

Dale and I were chatting this week about how quickly garden birds are eating my bird food during the=is breeding season. It’s lovely watching the small birds on the feeders ( one of my favourites is a woodpecker) but Andrea has sent in a question asking how to keep the bigger birds off the feeders. One answer is to use feeders with smaller perches, so the bigger birds can’t get on to them. Alternatively, use a squirrel proof feeder, which is enclosed in a cage. The smaller birds can get in and enjoy the food, but not the bigger ones.

Happy gardening,



  1. Amanda Garrard June 15, 2017 at 11:20 am -  Reply

    Hi Richard. I simply love flower power, I use it on everything from Acer’s, to Box hedge to my roses. My problem is my roses. I have two rose gardens with about 30 roses, they get fed, with your flower power, plant invigerator and ferlizer. They start off very healthy with masses of blooms but the leaves then start to turn yellow. Any tips? I’ve read could be lack of certain nutrition’s, under or over watering so I’m a bit confused. Please help. Thank you. Amanda

  2. Irene Jenkins June 15, 2017 at 2:57 pm -  Reply

    Dear Richard, what will get rid of mushrooms in my garden.

  3. Maureen Haycock June 15, 2017 at 5:16 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard

    My wisteria has not grown any leaves after it flowered the few leaves I have are very weak and yellow in colour. Can you give me your comments.

    Many thanks Maureen Haycock

  4. Julie Jeffreys June 16, 2017 at 2:35 pm -  Reply

    Hello Richard, I need your help please. I am at a loss, I have just lost a dear friend and I am wanting to purchase a plant or tree with the name Pete or Peter in the name. I have looked on various Google sites to no avail. If you know of any plants etc and can
    help me would be most greatful.
    Many thanks.
    Julie Jeffreys

  5. Helen Hill June 17, 2017 at 8:08 am -  Reply

    Hi Richard. Need help with my lawn . I have brown patches everywhere I’m told the cause is my dogs can you help. Thank you

  6. william hamilton June 17, 2017 at 11:56 am -  Reply

    hi richard

    can you tell me how to get rid of a troublesome weed it has a long thin appearance and i have a photo of it but dont know where to send it to.

  7. Maxine Denton June 18, 2017 at 11:46 am -  Reply

    I am on waitlist for Lawn magic and am getting desperate, will it be in soon.?

    • Dee Peet July 15, 2017 at 1:19 pm -  Reply

      Please Richard can we have a sprayer for your Lawn feed.

  8. Kay Rowe June 19, 2017 at 2:52 pm -  Reply

    Could you please tell me how i go about prunning a christmas tree that is growing quite wide. I also would like to know how to trim the lower branches. thank you

  9. David Fearn June 23, 2017 at 1:51 pm -  Reply

    The hose end sprayer and have followed the instructions.but when I mix the granules the mixture is brown. I have used the sprayer and strained the flower and connected the sprayer ,but the solution is clear so in my opinion the solution is not you connect the sprayer and do not turn the switch to open until the water supply is turnedon

  10. Jane littlechild June 28, 2017 at 3:10 pm -  Reply

    Help what ground cover evergreen plant can I grow under my rhododendron

  11. Liz from stockton June 29, 2017 at 5:15 am -  Reply

    Hi richard. I have bought some potatoes to grow. Can we water them. They are out side and covered up as its raining.

  12. Pat jelfs June 29, 2017 at 8:09 am -  Reply

    Please can you tell me how to get rid of ivy

  13. Terry Frazer June 29, 2017 at 8:18 am -  Reply

    We have already bought some Lawn Magic but about 5 weeks ago we had new turf laid. When can we start applying the Lawn Magic?

  14. sam Roberts June 29, 2017 at 12:05 pm -  Reply

    I wish we could get the hose end sprayer we can’t even get the new plant magic liquid over here feeling left out again

  15. JILL PHILLPOT June 29, 2017 at 11:00 pm -  Reply

    I have holes in the leaves of the rhododendron bought from QVC 2 years ago it was 2 at the time one is ok!

  16. Pam Narayan July 3, 2017 at 11:27 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard, when will you bring back the Plant Invigorator? This product is brilliant a real life saver for plants & I am desperate to the point I have chased QVC umpteen times to bring this back. Only you can make it happen. Regards Pam

  17. Gail July 12, 2017 at 9:47 pm -  Reply

    I’m wondering if I have done something wrong. I bought the Thompson & Morgan rare black lily bulbs but they have come our burgundy nowhere near black?

  18. Pauline James July 31, 2017 at 2:02 am -  Reply

    Do you still have the standard orieander bush in stock

  19. Pauline James July 31, 2017 at 2:03 am -  Reply

    Do you still have a standard orrieander plant in stock

  20. Lotus Lady July 31, 2017 at 12:04 pm -  Reply

    I’ve had an Aspidistra since 2002 and it does well in the communal hallway where there’s a good amount of light and air circulation. However is there anything I can do to remedy browny yellow leaf tips? Can’t see any pests in residence. Plant is watered from the bottom when nearly dried out and is watered less frequently in winter/darker days. We change out the compost every couple of years when it looks depleted (dig out about a third and add new to the top). In the spring I wipe down her leaves with inside of a banana skin to cleanse and shine them. She once had flowers come up in the soil but only once, about 6 years in I recall. Didn’t know what to do with those and they eventually ‘went away’ of their own accord I suppose. As a plant originating with harsh indoor conditions of the last century or so, I suppose it to need little ‘mollycoddling’. But I don’t have a garden so Aspi means a lot to me and I want to do my best for her in return – so do you have any advice on watering regime? About the leaf edges turning brown/dry/crispy/sometimes there’s a nibble which I assume is a moth,whether any feed is needed/if so, what sort & when? Should I attempt to replace all the soil or would that ‘shock’ her? How often are they supposed to flower? What encourages flowering – and what do you do with these odd ‘rosette’ looking things in order to make a new Aspidistra grow from it? My mother-in-law gave me the plant when I said I always felt I’d do well with one – but you never see them in garden centres. She agreed and then saw a few for sale in one. We’ve not seen any since 2002, I know they’re slow-growing so won’t ever be your ideal, seasonal, garden centre offering – and it was quite expensive (there was a five in the price so it was either £15 or £25) but I’d love to grow some on from my overall very successful one. I can think of two people who’d like one. I know they were once so common they even became the source of parody, and even music hall/film ridicule at one point (“Keep the Aspidistra Flying”), but living in flats meant I’ve had to give away about five ailing plants that couldn’t cope with the lack of light – so being successful with this plant is lovely – I love the wide armful of Aspi’s healthy, elegant, deep green sweep up of long leaves and want to keep her that way. At 15 years old, I’d also like to know where this is in her life expectancy! Well that’s my wish-list on that.

    Thanks for bringing some interesting plants to QVC, I don’t have a garden but have bought several items for my parents in law (keen gardeners) over the years. Wet and Forget was a huge hit them, for a painted wooden fence covered in green which they could never get rid of previously. A clematis, scented Begonias x2 and freesias are other gifts they enjoyed. Items I’ve not been able to buy but would if they came back again, for when I get a garden one day – were also items I’ve never seen for sale in garden centres before but appeared on QVC; orange Chinese Lanterns, Chinese ground orchids & a tree peony.

    Roses: I ask my husband not to buy me roses because my heart tears each time that ‘they’ve’ dared to, and have, bred out the most beautiful of scents in all the world out of gift roses, I refuse to support this tampering. When Shakespeare says “A Rose by Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet” and it’s just not so in our age, enough is enough – so a fab rose from QVC – a highly scented, strong red (but not magenta, still red) big bloom ‘tea’ rose, would also sorely tempt my purse!

  21. anne kitchen July 31, 2017 at 7:58 pm -  Reply

    where is he best place to grow Alstromeria in the garden beds or pots

  22. Julie fowler August 2, 2017 at 5:51 pm -  Reply

    I have a hellebore Christmas rose that is flowering in august, it’s never happened before only at Christmas I have fed it flower power can you help.

  23. Julie fowler August 2, 2017 at 5:53 pm -  Reply

    I have a hellebore Christmas rose that is flowering in august, it’s never happened before only at Christmas I have fed it flower power can you help.

  24. Helen todd August 12, 2017 at 10:29 am -  Reply

    Hi Richard, I need help with slug, I’ve tried your slug pellets, which worked for a couple of days, I do have a big slug problem, can’t put a foot down in my garden without stepping on at least 3 or 4 slugs, I wake up in the morning and their climbing up my walls and windows. I used the box of slug pellets and they did go for a couple of days but are now back, can’t afford £20 every few days how ever if you feel that 2 or 3 treatment of it will sort it I’m happy to pay, please advise . Thank you

  25. Maxine Schrader August 27, 2017 at 11:21 am -  Reply

    I bought a magnolia set of 3 TSV years ago maybe 10 years and Richard said it would flower the following year. I have moved house and brought them with me. They are tall and in fabulous condition but still no flowers. I mulch with manure every year. What do I need to do to get flowers

  26. Jan Warham September 3, 2017 at 8:37 pm -  Reply

    Hello Richard can you please give me some advice, I’ve planted both a Clemetis & a climing rose, I’ve just moved the rose today to another part of the garden,both plants won’t flower,I got a few roses but not many& my Clemitis was in bloom when I planted it, it’s only a younge plant though but there is a lot of foliage …. I use flower power as well….

  27. jean moss October 24, 2017 at 2:38 pm -  Reply

    Hi Richard. My begonia tubers which were prepared ready for the dormant winter period have already started sprutting. Do I remove these first shoots or leave them over the winter

  28. Rosemary January 7, 2018 at 10:29 am -  Reply

    When is the best time to move Fuchsias hardy
    and can I use flower power dry in the spray bottle that comes with liquid flower power if yes how much would you use thanks love your program xx

  29. Rosemary January 21, 2018 at 10:42 am -  Reply

    When is the best time to move Fuchsias hardy
    and can I use flower power dry in the spray bottle that comes with liquid flower power if yes how much would you use thanks love your program

  30. Linda Skade March 9, 2018 at 2:23 pm -  Reply

    I bought the hydranga last year (plants 2 garden)I think it was plant of the month or a tsv.well it looks completly dead.When will it start budding? or has it died.

  31. Miss Stafford May 6, 2018 at 6:25 am -  Reply

    Hi Richard

    I have a bad problem with Blackberry bushes, my neighbour planted some in their garden, but they are starting to grow into mine. How can i get rid of them, i tried digging them up last year, but they are back again, is there any weed killer i could use which is safe for animals.

  32. Jeanette Mandy ODonnell July 22, 2018 at 10:43 am -  Reply

    Hi Richard. I bought Rhododendron Tinkerbird in April and I re potted it in a 25 litre pot with ericaceous compost. It flowered well and seemed in good health. However, in the last 4 or 5 weeks the leaves are all going brown and it does not look well. Is this a disease. There is some new growth but these are also starting to go brown. I water with rain water and have added Sulphur soil to try and recover the plant. I do use Flower Power. Your advice would be appreciated before I contact Customer Services with a view to a replacement.

    Regards Mandy

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