Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland




Time to plant

BEDDING plants should all be planted, now that five letter word 'frost' is no longer a menace.

Your hanging baskets shouldn't be put out until June, however. Bad weather in May frequently hinders hanging basket development, plus the longer they are sheltered, the bigger, better and bolder the flowers will be.

Of course here we have to watch out for an attack of the Clones, which could have devastating effect.

I'm not talking about the latest offering from Lucasfilm productions, but I speak of Greenfly, whitefly, and all the little creepy crawlies we know and love so well.

They are back with a vengeance, particularly so at a time of warm humid weather when their reproduction rates seem to triple.
The horticultural laser sword with which to wipe out these pests . . .all of them is Roseclear, surprisingly effective on lots of flowers.

Of course there are some plants very sensitive to these chemicals including Fuschsias and Geraniums, in which case you should blast the enemy with old washing up liquid.

Try 'companion' planting, French Marigold under roses attract hoverflies which feed on aphids! Try this combination in a summer pot - mint or garlic confuses the attacking pests, handy for interplanting with fragrant flowers like Ten Week Stocks.

As for how bedding should look: some say it is best to repeat a pattern of three colours. Some say big old swathes of colour either in rows or flowing like a river would look good under shrubs.

Perhaps in a circle bed divided into five with a white edge of Alyssum.

A good focal point here would be a slender Box topiary specimen or Cupressus macrocarpa 'Goldcrest'; a striking upright conifer which smells of wine gums! Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.

Watering and feeding are vital if you want bedding to look best. Miracle-Gro is excellent, but in my experience potash rich tomato food is just as good.

Don't forget you can use this on anything which flowers or fruits, including those obstinate old shrubs reluctant to flower.

Look for the NPK ratio on the back of the plant food packet. N is the Nitrogen and makes foliage, P is for Phosphate and roots, and K is Potash for flowers.

Start feeding now weekly and it will make a big difference, but don't forget to deal with your pests too, otherwise they will turn your garden to the dark side!

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