Plant of the week: Citrus Meyer Lemon
Colin Evans Garden Tips
Hot sunny days one minute and great bursts of rain the next - the classic English summer has arrived. Colin has advice on caring for orange and lemon trees, buddleia and runner beans, and some tips for terrific tulips in the spring.
The summer has certainly got a hold now what with hot sunny days and then great bursts of rain, we gardeners have difficulty on keeping up with what is going on in the garden.
However, this is great growing weather and if you can ensure that tall plants and trees are well anchored and staked then you need have no worries about the health of the plants in your garden.
Hot and wet conditions often lead to fungal diseases especially in the greenhouse and to a lesser extent in the garden. Just keep an eye out for any signs and spray with a fungicide as soon soon as you spot any problems. Aphids, especially on runner beans and fruit trees need tackling as well.
A spray over with general garden insecticide and a blast with the hose should keep the little blighters at bay.
Generally, though, conditions are not that bad and the gardens are looking so much more refreshed after the recent Spanish like temperatures. Weeds will be having a field day because they are growing as fast as your plants, shrubs and crops, so get out the garden hoe and knock the tops off if you don't want the weeds to take up valuable moisture and nutrients form the ground.
Tulips will grow well in both containers and the open ground and are best planted in large groups of the same variety. Any good bulky freely draining soil or compost will do. Plant bulbs at least three times their own depth and simply leave them until they show themselves the following spring.
Spring has sprung
My two favourites are tulip 'Lilyfire' which has reddish orange petals lined with yellow which makes it look like a flame of fire and tulip 'Red Shine' which is deep red with graceful petals. This variety will outlast most others.
Runner beans are making rapid growth with all the wet warm weather so make sure you keep up the feeding especially if they are growing in containers and don't let them dry out.
Relying on the rain will create problems with erratic growth and the beans when they emerge will be of poor quality so water each plant individually and keep them well replenished because the sun, when it does shine is very hot.
You may also find that black fly, the same family as aphids, have taken up residence on the new growth and if this is the case they must be tackled swiftly by spraying the infestations with jets of water or applying horticultural soft soap. Alternatively a spray over with a fast acting aphid killer will do the trick.
Buddleia and butterflies
Buddleia will grow just about any where from old building sites to roofs and gutters. This shrub has to be one of the easiest to grow so you can propagate you own plants ready for flowering next year.
The flowers will still be colourful at present in most gardens but once they begin to fade you should remove the old flower heads and lay them in the sun in a dry place to remove any moisture from the seed heads.
Once the drying has been carried out, shake the heads into a paper bag and the seeds collected can be sprinkles onto pots of multi purpose potting compost where they will germinate quickly. Stood in a sheltered spot and kept evenly moist you will be able to pot on the new plants by autumn.
Orange plants need a lot of feeding.
Citrus plants such as orange and lemon must be fed on a regular basis now, say once a week, to keep the fruits healthy. Indoor plant feed will do, but, the special citrus food available at the garden centre is better. Watch out for pests and diseases and spray with your chosen preparation when infestations strike.
Citrus need plenty of light and if the foliage looks brown and unhealthy then just cut off the offending material with clippers. If the plants are easy to move around then stand them outside to give them fresh air throughout the summer months.
last updated: 22/07/2009 at 12:21
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