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Gardening Q&A with Experts: Your March Questions Answered

by Gregory
5 minutes read

Gardening Q&A with the Experts


Do you have questions about your garden? Our team of gardening experts is here to help! Each month, they answer a selection of your questions, providing expert advice on everything from plant care to garden design.

Your March Questions Answered

Camellia Care

  • Question: My camellia has beautiful blooms, but the foliage is sparse in the middle. Can I renovate it to make it bushier?
  • Answer: Yes, camellias can be pruned to encourage bushier growth. Prune after flowering, using sharp tools to create a basic framework. New shoots will grow from this framework, filling out the plant.

Seedling Growth

  • Question: My seedlings are growing tall and leggy without many leaves. What’s wrong?
  • Answer: Seedlings may stretch towards light if they don’t receive enough. Increase light levels by placing a mirror or reflective material behind them. Ensure clean glass in greenhouses and consider using LED lights if natural light is insufficient.

Mulching with Tree Branches

  • Question: Can I use fresh tree branches as mulch for soft fruits?
  • Answer: Yes, but allow at least three months for decomposition before applying. Fresh material removes nitrogen from the soil as it decomposes. Compensate by scattering high-nitrogen feed around the plant base before mulching.

Reblooming Astrantia

  • Question: How can I encourage my astrantia to rebloom?
  • Answer: Divide old astrantia plants in spring. Remove the central part and retain the younger, more vigorous pieces from the outside. Replant or pot and grow over summer, then plant out in October. Ensure plants are well-watered during dry periods and feed with a potash-rich fertilizer.

Pest Control for Snowdrops

  • Question: What can I do to stop things from eating my snowdrop flowers?
  • Answer: Mice, voles, and birds may damage snowdrop flowers. Use humane traps to reduce mice and vole populations. Cover plants with chicken wire to deter birds. Create slug traps or use environmentally friendly slug pellets or copper barriers to control slugs and snails.

Plants for Shade and Wind

  • Question: What plants can survive in full shade and full wind?
  • Answer: Consider plants with thick, leathery evergreen foliage, such as ivies, hellebores, hydrangeas, and fatsia. Shade-tolerant bulbs like muscari and dwarf narcissus can also thrive in these conditions.

Companion Planting with Raspberries

  • Question: Can I grow other plants with autumn-fruiting raspberries?
  • Answer: Yes, but raspberries prefer not to have competition from surrounding plants. Plant in clumps among ornamentals, leaving a gap around them. Consider herbaceous plants like hellebores and erythroniums or small spring bulbs like muscari and crocus.

Soil Health and Worms

  • Question: I have sandy soil but don’t see any worms. Should I be concerned?
  • Answer: Worms may be present but deeper in the soil, especially in moist, cooler conditions. If plants are healthy, soil pH is likely not an issue. Continue adding organic matter to improve soil health and encourage worm activity.

Cherry Tree Bark Peeling

  • Question: Why is the bark of my cherry tree peeling at the base?
  • Answer: Peeling bark can be caused by mower or strimmer damage, environmental stress, or bacterial canker. Take care when working around the tree and feed with a general fertilizer in spring to promote growth.

Alternatives to Lawns with Pets

  • Question: What can I use instead of a lawn with multiple pets?
  • Answer: Fine-grade bark can withstand pet activity. Sawdust can also be used, but it may be less aesthetically pleasing. Consider rotating pets to different areas of the garden to give the turf a chance to recover.

Meet Our Experts

  • Ashley Edwards, Head Gardener at Horatio’s Garden
  • Humaira Ikram, Garden Designer
  • Christine Walkden, Garden Writer and Lecturer
  • Matt Biggs, Horticulturalist with over 30 years of experience

Send Us Your Questions!

Have a gardening question? Send it in by noon on Wednesday 3rd April, and our experts will answer it in next month’s Q&A. Please note, you will not receive an individual response.

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