Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland




Don't cut back just yet

AUGUST brings with it a another chapter in the garden calendar. Many plants run to seed during August, and you may be tempted to cut back and tidy those plants whose flowers are over.

But think again. Even dying plants can give the garden character while seeding and your garden could yield a rich harvest of home-saved seed.

Collecting seed can be great fun especially for the young budding horticulturist. Keep an eye on those plants that mature and shed their seed quickly.

Seed from some species, including poppies, columbines and foxgloves can be shaken straight from the capsule, while others such as hardy geraniums, are safer if the whole stem is removed and replaced upside down in a paper bag.

Store collected seed in old envelopes of clean paper bags, labelling each variety immediately after collection.

As for sowing, the fresher the better. Most hardy perennials will germinate very quickly if sown immediately after collection, either in a cold frame or in the open ground. Don't forget to exchange seeds with your friends and relatives.

Take cuttings now of your favourite garden shrubs. These can be cheaply and easily propagated in a cold frame or cool glasshouse.

Select your cuttings; these should be at a semi ripe stage. Apply a hormone rooting powder to the prepared cuttings and stick them in soil that has been enriched with leaf mould, compost and grit to allow for good drainage. Avoid disturbing them until they have rooted, which should be in a few months. These can be gently potted up and grown on for planting out next autumn.

During the next few weeks examine your house plants and look for signs of over watering. The signs will be apparent, yellowing or dropping of the leaves is a sure sign of over watering.

If so allow the plants to dry out naturally and reduce water and feeding slowly as growth begins to slow down for the winter.

House plants that have been placed outside during the summer months can be brought back inside to acclimatise in their positions before the weather temperature drops.