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frequently asked questions

One of the secrets of happy gardening is to ask when you’re not sure about something.

Here we give you a list of the questions we’re most often asked, about gardening in general and about our plants in particular.

If after reading through these answers you have any further questions, just click here to ask us directly

gardening

 Soil - how do you improve to get best results?

Some of us are blessed with nice soil right from the start and anything grows,  but then there are some of us that this is not so.

Whether you have sandy soil, heavy clay soil that hardens like rock when dry,  or soil that just doesn't seem to grow anything, adding COMPOST will help more than anything else.  It is mother nature's "balancing agent" .   This loosens heavy soil and adds some bulk to pure sandy soils.    Pretty soon you will find that just about anything you plant will grow with less effort.

What is COMPOST - well just about anything that is organic.    This can be old shredded leaves,  aged horse, cow or animal manure, saw dust,  grass clippings and even adding some shredded newspaper.    Mix together what you have putting 1-2 inches spread on top of the soil and dig well in to around 6-8 inches in depth.   If you have heavy clay soil, that is hard thick soil, wait until it has rained and the soil is damp before trying to dig this in.  

 

 planting - how to?

If you’ve never been shown, you might not know how easy this is.

Dig a hole which is a little larger than the pot your plant is in, but not deeper. Tip the plant out of the pot (squeezing the pot a little can help) and, keeping things as contained as possible, lower the root ball into the hole. Check your plant is facing the right way (they often have a good side), check that the soil levels match (you don’t want it to sit too high or too low) then fill in around the roots. There’s no need to pack it in too tightly, but you do need to water it in well. And if you can, avoid planting at midday in high temperatures because it may stress your newly planted plant.  Add one half to 2 gallons of water to the soil around the newly planted plant, depending on the size of the plant.

 water - how and how much?

Watering is a relaxing gardening activity, especially as the best time to do it is early in the day or later at the day’s end.

If you’re watering by hand, use a medium setting on your hose as a fine mist can waft away on the breeze without doing much. As a rule of thumb, you will need to water plants growing in pots more often than those in the ground. Newly planted plants will need frequent sessions until settled in. Learn a little about what sort of places your plants grow naturally and you’ll have a good idea which ones will need more water than others. In fact, grouping plants together – whether in a garden bed or a cluster of pots – is a good way to give like-minded plants the amount of water they prefer.

And if you don’t want to be stressed by watering, invest in an in-line drip system with a programmable timer. It saves time and water.

 fertilizing - what is the point?

Most plants will grow and flower happily for a few years without feeding.  But in time they will eat up the reserves of food in the soil and there will be slower or shorter growth and fewer flowers. In extreme cases they may become more susceptible to disease. So it’s worth fertilizing your plants.

Fertilizers are categorized with a N:P:K numbering system. Your garden centre will advise you, but in general, a food which has a high N (nitrogen) number will encourage your plants to produce more growth.  P (phosphorus) only needs a smaller number and helps promote healthy roots,  while K (Potash) promotes flowering and stronger plants

Slow release fertilizers are designed to release the plant nutrients over a longer period of time which is useful, especially when plants are growing in containers.

Often a handful of general fertilizer once a year in spring is sufficient for most plants.

 pruning - how?

It’s easy if you use common sense.   Prune to tidy a plant or to give it the shape you’re after.

Pruning usually sends a message to the plant to send up more shoots in place of the one you’ve cut, so it’s a great way to make something bushier. Use sharp tools - secateurs or hedge clippers - and don’t be shy. Like cutting hair, it will grow back.  Remember though,  prune just after flowering so you don’t miss out on the flowers.

 sun and shade - what do plants need?

Knowing where your plants originally come from, where their ancestors grew, helps you to find them a similar place in your garden. It’s common sense to give them conditions they enjoy rather than force them to grow where they aren’t naturally suited. It’s in these sweet spots that they will be happy, healthy and be beautiful. Of course there is some room either side of the ideal location though in this situation you may not enjoy quite so many flowers.

Most plants prefer sunlight and each plant's preference should be on the label supplied with the plant.    Not sure,  ask your garden center and they should readily be able to help you.    As an example roses prefer full sunlight,  whereas our Flower Carpet ground cover roses can also grow and flower with around 50% of flowering in filtered sunlight.

 weeds - how do you control them?

This is simple. To control them it’s best to remove them. Start by sectioning off small sections of your garden and work through these one at a time using this system.

Step one, remove the weeds either by hand or by spraying with a herbicide (your garden center can advise you on products).

Step two, cover the soil with a thick layer of coarse mulch or wood chips to stop weed seeds sprouting from the soil or those brought in on the breeze. (However if using woodchips, add extra nitrogen to the soil as the woodchips need extra nitrogen to break down and if you do not give extra to the soil, they will take what is in the soil and reduce your plant's growth.)

Step three, keep an eye on things and when you spot a weed, get rid of it there and then.

Step four, plant your garden beds thickly as growing plants will exclude weeds.