Day from Cardiff asks:
Could you please tell me whether there is now an alternative
to Cutlass as it has been banned and an elderly friend is finding
it increasing difficult to keep his beloved hedge tidy with
this product. I would be very grateful for any help you may
be able to give me. Thank you very much.
I'm afraid that Cutlass has been discontinued by the manufacturer
and there is nothing else available as a replacement.
Warden in Ramsgate asks:
have a problem with large mushrooms growing in my small-enclosed
courtyard. The mushrooms have spread throughout my beds and
are causing problems with my established plants, which are
dying off one by one. Does anyone have any ideas how I can
get rid of the mushrooms? They look very much like edible
ones and I guess they could be from not spent mushroom compost
that I have used in the past. As I only have small courtyard
and the beds are a premium for growing plants and not mushrooms
I need to get rid of them. Unfortunately I get no frost or
full sun in the courtyard so turning over the soil and exposing
the mycelium to the elements isnt a possibility. I have
tried removing as much soil as possible and replacing it,
but they came up again this year. Ideally I dont want
to have to remove all my plants as I have no other space to
replant them. Is there anything I can use to kill them off?
Would a systemic killer work if I cut off the fruit above
soil height and painted it on? Wondered how that would work
with the mycelium network as apposed to any real root system.
I have spent years nurturing my small space and its an oasis
of ferns and shade loving plants .. being ruined by the fungi
any help would be greatly appreciated
if the fungi do look and peel like mushrooms then there is
a chance that they are a result of using mushroom compost
but they should not be responsible for the deaths of your
plants.The main fungus which kills off palnts is called Honey
Fungus and this produces clumps of honey coloured toadstools
usually in lines following the root run of the plants. If
you pick a toadstool and follow the stem down from the base
of the flat cap, honey fungus has gills (the furrowed bits
under the cap) which continue down the stem for a while and
terminate with a frill running around the stalk.If this is
the case then there is nothing that can be done to control
the problem as there are no chemical treatments approved for
the job. All you can do is keep the plants well fed and watered
and re-plant using honey fungus resistant shrubs. I can supply
a list of these if you e-mail me again.
it is not honey fungus you can deter ramdon fungal growth
by using sulphate of iron, readily available at garden centres,
diluted at the rate of 2 oz in a gall. of water with a dessert
spoonful of washing up liquid added. Spike the affected area
and water this on at the rate of I gall per sq. yd. or sq.
Kelly from Shanklin, Isle of Wight asks:
got a large bark area in my garden where my granddaughter
plays but recently there have been a lot of mushrooms/toadstools
appearing. I have raked it over but they keep coming back.
How can I be rid of them permanently??
This is another random fungal growth question and so the best
remedy is to use the sulphate of iron diluted at the rate of
2 oz in a gall of water with a dessert sopoonful of washing
up liquid added. Water this over the area at the rate of 1 gall
per sq. yd or sq. metre.
Napthan from Downham Market asks:
We have 3 mushroom rings measuring 7ft diameter each on our
lawn. Is there any spray we can use to get rid of them?
These are fairy rings and currently there are no products
approved to control this problem in UK gardens. The main problem
that this fungus causes is a result of the substances produced
by the fungus as it grows which sort of "waterproof the
soil" so that the grass plants gradually die due to drought.
You will probably be told that you have to dig out a huge
area of soil to the depth of 30 cm (1 ft) and replace the
soil with fresh. I would not bother- it rarely works! You'll
get better results from keeping the lawn well fed. Spike the
infected area and water it well, but be careful not to stick
the fork back into the lawn again until you have wiped it
with a rag dipped in disinfetant. Spike the outer edge of
the ring and onto the apparently heathy grass for about 30
cm (1ft) and then water this area with the following mixture.
of sulphate of iron in 1 gall of water with a dessert spoonful
of washing up liquid added, watered over one and a half sq.yds
or sq. metres. There is a chance that the grass may turn black
but it will revive and the treatment will upset the fungus.
Hayes from Warrington asks:
My two Cupressus Macrocarpa 'Wilma' are potted, seem to be going
brown/dying. Can you help?
I think that your trees are suffering from an attack by insect
pests, either conifer mites or more likely conifer aphids. In
either case the treatment is the same - apply Bio Provado Ultimate
Bug Killer a systemic insecticide which should see them off.
If the plants are gradually going brown from the base towards
the top there is a chance that they are too dry.
Bumstead from Barnstaple asks:
I have successfully grown cuttings from a very beautifully scented
Compassion Climbing Rose, but the flowers on the cuttings have
no scent. Why is this?
I have heard of this happening before but I'm afraid that I
do not know why it should be the case. [Sorry Fiona - even
our Reg is flummoxed sometimes! - Ed]
Dickinson from Lincolnshire asks:
I have a mature (approx 20 y/o) cyprus leylandii hedge which
is turning brown in places and seems to be spreading. Is this
a disease and if so can it be stopped and will the green growth
This sporadic brown patching is definitly caused by conifer
aphids which should be controlled by spraying with Bio Provado
Ultimate Bug Killer. Probably more than one application of this
systemic insecticide will be necessary to eliminate the pests.
Unfortunately the brown areas will not go green again as leylandii
does not easily re-shoot from old wood. Allow the healthy shoots
either side of the patches to remain untrimmed until they can
be tied in across the brown areas to disguise them.
I am looking for information regarding 'Malus Ballerina' or
the 'Polka" apple species. Where do they grow and how much
Polka is one of the group of apple varieties known as Ballerina
trees due to their upright habit of growth. They are still available
from a few nurseries in the UK but this group of apple varieties
has a bad reputation due to their great suseptibility to the
main apple diseases especially apple canker.
Sadler from Newmarket asks:
I live in a terraced house with a south west facing yard which
gets very hot. I like to grow containers near the kitchen door
which is down a narrow sideway. Down near the ground it is quite
shady but higher up the sun is quite relentless. The problem
I have is what to grow beneath my clematis to hide its bare
brown stalks. Also is it right that the clematis have bare stalks,
none of them are that leafy and although they have been in 2
years they have not flowered again.
Clematis like to be kept well fed and watered and maybe this
is where yours are lacking, also they are prone to attacks of
mildew which can also turn the lower foliage brown. Keep the
plants well watered and add some liquid feed regularly, one
every 10 days dyring the growing season. If you can find a product
called Chempak Priorswood Clematis Food this is applied as a
liquid otherwise they would benefit from a good general feed
such as Phostrogen. If you would like to grow a small leaved
evergreen to hide the bare stems a fine choice would be Euonymus
French from Peterborough asks:
have cut down a large conifer bush but the stump and roots are
too substantial to remove by digging. What is the easiest way
to remove the stumps in order to lay turf over the top?
In my opinion the only way to do this satisfactorily enough
to lay a lawn over the top would be to have the stumps ground
down by a local tree surgeon using a stump grinding machine.
Dandybee from Caversham asks:
Can you reccomend any attractive ground cover/climbing plants
to disguise a tall granite/chalk based embankment at the bottom
of our garden?
Hi Sonia, How large is the area I wonder? You write that it
is tall so I expect that climbers would be best. Anyway here
are a few suitable contenders:
cover roses - will also act like medium sized climbers.
I like the Flower Carpet series.
Vitis coignetiae - rapid growth and huge "elephant
ears" leaves. Brilliant autumn colour.
Euonymus fortunei silver queen - and other Euonymus vars.
Humulus lupulus aureus - golden leaved hop.
Pileostegia viburnoides - slower growing, evergreen hydrangea
relative, white flowers.
Rubus henryi - this is an evergreen but thornless bramble
relative, there are other species in the same family too.
Any of the Ivies (Hederas) would be evergreen and do
a good job.
Also look at evergreen Cotoneaster skogholm which is
very good at covering banks. Low hummocks with clusters of white
flowers followed by red berries.
from New South Wales, Australia asks:
I have malaluka trees outside my ground floor unit and they
are killing my plants is there anyway I can stop them without
killing the soil.
If you wish to kill the trees without harming the soil try attacking
them with a systemic herbicide. Some of these can be applied
by peeling back and area of bark applying the crystals and then
tying the bark back in place. In the UK this is sold as Growing
Success Deep Root and it contains the chemical Ammonium sulphamate.
Lauterbach from Richmond, Virginia asks:
I have lots of foliage, but no blossoms on my hydrangea bushes.
Last year when I bought them they were in full bloom. Please
Sometimes Hydrangeas will grow away like mad the season after
planting and as they put so much energy into growth they do
not produce any blooms. Make sure that yours are well watered
during the growing season, feed them with sulphate of potash
in early autumn and do not prune them. Things will improve flowerwise
Tribe from East Devon asks:
Why has one of my Hydrangers only produced one flower all season?
All my others have had an abundance of flowers.
Has the non flowering one either; GROWN A LOT THIS YEAR? - if
so it has put its energy into growth rather than blooms. HAVE
YOU PRUNED IT HARD? - if so you have cut off the flower buds.
OTHERWISE HAS IT BECOME TOO DRY AROUND THE ROOTS? - if so this
will have stopped it from flowering especially if it became
dry towards the end of last summer / early autumn when it should
have been making flower buds for the following year.
claxton from Worcester asks:
How do I take a hydranger cutting?
Hydrangea cuttings can be taken in late spring-early summer
but they will also root well in Aug-Sept. Cut off the tip of
a vigourous non-flowering shoot with about 2-3 pairs of leaves,
cutting just above a leaf joint. Next remove the soft tip of
the shoot (the first pair of small leaves). Cut the next pair
of leaves in half by making a cut across them to remove the
tips. This will help to prevent excess water loss. Then remove
the bottom pair of leaves entirely and make a straight cut just
blow where they were attached to the stem. Dip the base of the
stem in rooting hormone and then insert several cuttings around
the edge of a 5in pot. The pot should be filled with a 50/50
mix of multi-purpose compost and either horticultural grit or
perlite. The leaves of the cuttings should not touch and the
leaves should also remain just above the compost. Water the
cuttings in and cover the pot with a polythene bag and place
it in a shady spot to commence rooting. If you have a heated
propagator a bottom heat of 15C (59F) will speed up the rooting
Mackie from Toms River, New Jersey, USA asks:
When can I replant my Hydranger? It is 14 years old and had
no flowers these past 2 years.
The best time to carefully dig up and re-plant your Hydrangea
is during the dormant season, when the plant has dropped its
foliage. A 14 year old plant is likely to be difficult to move
due to its large rooting area, so you will need to cut the top
growth back in order to compensate for the root loss, and keep
the plant well watered during the following spring and summer.
Sahal from Sheffield asks:
I have a climbing hydrangea of 2 years old in a large pot. Over
a period of time each leaf dries and becomes lacy and eventually
crumbles away. This year I haven't had any flowers either. I
can't see any insects on the plant but sometimes see a silvery
trail on the leaves. The plant is in the shade and doesn't dry
out or become waterlogged.
I'm glad to see that you keep the plant well watered as they
need plenty of moisture. Well the silvery trails are due to
snails climbing up the plant at night, they are likely to eat
the foliage leaving irregular shaped holes with a slightly brown
edge. If you wished to control them spray the foliage with Scotts
Slug Clear Liquid. However I feel that there is something else
going on as well. Did you notice if odd areas of the leaves
turned brown and then the brown regions fell away to create
the lacey effect before the crumbling away stage? If so I think
that the plant is suffering from Hydrangea Leaf Spot usually
a fungal disease, although some leaf spots can be bacterial.
Collect up all the fallen leaves and next spring as the new
foliage has finished unfurling treat the leaves with Bio Dithane
945 a protectant fungicide that helps to prevent the fungus
from re-colonising the new leaves.
Maddison from Romford in Essex asks:
My Morning Glory plants are now about 6 feet tall - but no sign
of any flowers - they are south facing in a box of compost.
Any ideas why no blooms?
Sometimes, particularly in duller years like this one morning
glories tend to grow well and not flower much until late summer.
Give them some liquid tomato fertiliser as the high potash content
will promote flowering. Give some every 10 days.
James from Sittingbourne in Kent asks:
I have a weed spreading rapidly in my front garden and also
beginning to appear in the back. I am a beginner at gardenning
and cannot get rid of it. It is a deep reddy colour, has tiny
clover like leaves and tiny yellow flowers. When I try to pull
it out it pops out lots of little tiny seeds and therefore spreads
rapidly. I've just come back from holiday and it has almost
covered my front border and is appearing in my pots and tubs
now. What can I do? I'm going away again at the end of the week
for 12 days.
This is an Oxalis and the best weedkillers to use on it are
either anything containing the chemical glyphosate like Round
Up or Bio Glyphosate, otherwise lawn weedkillers such as Scotts
Verdone Extra are also effective. In either case keep the weedkiller
off any plants that you want to keep but once they hit the soil
they are both inactivated.