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Our Reg solves your gardening questions

Reg Moule is here to answer your gardening questions.
Last updated: 25 May 2005 1721 BST
lineReg Moule has been solving BBC Radio Gloucestershire listeners' gardening problems for years. Now he's answering your gardening questions from across the world!
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Q: In our wildlife pond, there has of late been a lot of spherical green/brown gungelike substance, maybe eggs? or algae? it is stuck to the oxygenator plants and we fear it may harm their wellbeing and efficiency. any ideas what it might be? how can we get rid of it?

Name - Liz Fry - Edinburgh

A: This is an algae if you wish to discourage it in an organic way the addition of a product based on barley straw would help to see it off.
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Q:I stopped my chrysanthemums in May they are now in 6 inch pots outside since June They have had a little feed in July. The problem is they are now in flower. THE PLANTS ARE EIGHT FEET TALL. Where have I gone wrong Please advise.

Marshall Frey - Berhhamsted . Herts

A:I think that your plants seem to have responed well to the unusually warm and sunny summer. I suppose that they were in a standard compost, because if they were in a home made mix or if you had added some rotted manure to the mix that might account for it.
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Q:I would like to grow a Virginia Creeper on the front outside wall of our bungalow. Two questions: Will it damage the property in any way The area is relatively small and I wondered whether the plant could be grown in a tub as there is no soil within several feet of the property .

Barry Childs - Lincoln

A: The Virginia Creeper fixes itself to the wall by means of sticky tipped tendrils that attatach themselves to the bricks, so if the brickwork and mortar are in good condition when the plant is put in then all will be well. Certainly the plant coule be grown in a large container but remember that you must be vigilant with the watering and feed the plant during the spring and summer.
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Q: How do I care for my potted Japanese Maple over the winter? Do I need to keep it inside a cool room or will it tolerate the frosts?

N Hillman - Wassenaar

A:Your Japanese maple should be safe outdoors over the winter as long as the pot is placed in a sheltered spot.
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Q: I find that any carrots or parsnip that I grow fang & do not grow down, other root crops i.e. turnips, beetroot grow O.K. my soils is quite light & neutral. The tops of the plants look very healthy I believe there is a nutrient missing but what?

Dave Wickstead - Plymouth

A:I do not think that a nutrient deficiency is the problem, although you could try appling about 1 ounce to the sq.yd. of superphosphate a few days prior to seed sowing. Usually fanging is due to stones being present in the soil, particularly large ones.Try space sowing the parsnips making holes down into the soil with a crowbar and filling them with sandy compost.(mix some J.I. Compost No2 with 25% extra sand) at every sowing station. With the carrots try sowing a stump rooted variety and see if you get better luck.
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Q: Any ideas how to stop squirrels from digging bulbs up?

Hugh & Jean Goodband - LEICESTER


A:Two ideas here. One is to lay some close mesh wire or plastic netting over thje planting site and cover it with soil. This will prevent the squirrels from reaching the bulbs. Secondly there is a product called Growing Success Squirrel Stop, you should find it at Garden Centres in a ready to use spray container.It is meant to spray on bird seed, it contains a strong form of caynne pepper that suirrels hate. Apply some to he bulbs after planting and put some on top of the soil in the planting area afterwards.
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Q: Does anoutdoor plant called "Laurentia Blue" sound familar? I purchased this plant in the springtime and have not see any flowers and it's now October It has a well established root in the pot and has grown well during the summer.

Ruth murray - Edinburgh

A: Laurentia is also known as Isotoma and it is a summer bedding and basket plant with thin strap like foliage and blue, or white, flowers. They enjoy a sunny spot and plenty of high potash fertiliser,like tomato food, to encouirage blooming. If you brought your plant inside for the winter you might get some blooms on it next year outdoors, normally they perform quite well.
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Q: I rescued an Amaryllis that was to be thrown away in a house move. It is now shooting. What should I do with it & is it likely to flower?

Linda Collas - Stoke on Trent

A: Yes the amaryllis is quite likely to flower especially if it is a niece big bulb. Pot it up in a container about an inch bigger all around than the bulb and keep it indoors. Usually if it is going to flower a bud and flowering stem are soon thrown up by the bulb. Feed it with some liquid tomato fertiliser every 10 days.
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Q:I live in placerville California I have a Mimosa Tree. I usually trim it in late October is this the right time

Mike - Placerville CA

A: Although you can successfully trim your Mimosa in the fall usually the best time is just after it has finished flowering.
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Q: What do I do with my "Joseph's Coat" now that it is starting to wilt and die. Can I seeds from it for next year

Colin Trigg - Crawley, West Sussex

A:Is your josephs coat the houseplant with coloured leaves called a Codaeum or croton, as this is what I think of as josephs coat. If so the plant does not die down annually and produce seeds so if yours is looking like it is about to die off you cannot really sow seeds to get a new one. If it is another plant with coloured leaves called a coleus then you can get seeds of them to sow in spring to rasie nwe plants for the following year.
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Q: I am worried that I may have Honey Armillaria fungus growing on the base of my mature silver birch.There are also clumps growing in the grass nearby. The grass clumps have occurred for several years. Honey fungus is thought to have killed some conifers in nearby gardens.The fungus is in tight clusters, colour is honey, the spores are white and there is no volva. The tree looks distressed which I had put down to a dry year. Can anything be done to help the situation?

Mike Marlton - Ross-on-Wye

A:If this is honey fungus there is no longer any chemical approved for amateur use to control the problem. Keep the tree watered and see if a local tree surgeon could apply a control available to professional users.
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Q: Can i stop trees from growing/can i do anything to stop tree roots growing?They are spreading under my patio and breaking it up .

J.LOGAN - Northumberland

A:The only thing that you can do is to fell the offending trees and treat the stumps with Deep Root or Root Out which will kill the stumps. There are no other ways of curtailing tree roots apart from digging down and cutting them off which is not any good as it could make the trees unstable and liable to fall on passers by.
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Q: Is it a good idea to mulch the soil with a thick layer of shredded but uncomposted plant material and leave it to decompose throughout the winter?

J D Riddett - Wexford, Eire

A:Yes this is quite possible but it is better to compost it in a heap for several months beforehand.
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Q:I have a weeping cherry tree, that is branching mainly on one side, can I cut off a branch and graft it onto another side of the tree? If yes what is the best time of year.

Steve Ryall - Risca

A:Unless you are an experienced grafter NO. Even then you would just take a small bit of new growth about five buds long as your graft wood. If you leave the plant alone it will gradually grow around to fill the gap.
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Q: Reg.Could you please advise me on the pruning of my 5 year old Cercis Siliqastrum (judas Tree)I have pruned it each year and it is looking really healthy but i don't think i am doing it right.the branches start really low and there is a mass of branches higher up.i always prune to a outward bud.it reminds me more of a large bush than a slim tree which is what i would like.

Colin Harris - Ashford

A:Normally Judas Trees do not need lots of regular pruning particularly when they are young and when grown as a shrub. Normally they are given a light trim over after flowering.
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Q:I have a large hydranger when can i prune it and how please .

pat clifton - rayleigh essex

A:Leave it alone until it is just comming back into leaf in spring. Them remove all the old dead flower heads cutting just above the first fat pair of buds on the stem. Remove about one third of the oldest stems down to just a above the soil. With Best Wishes,
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Q: We have a huge indoor ficus plant - not sure what type but think it may be weeping. The plant has outgrown the house. Can these trees be pruned and if so when and how hard?

Denis Daley - Hook Norton

A:Yes they can be prund after April next year is best but watch out for the sticky white sap oozing out of the cuts.
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Q: Callistemon linearis(Bottlebrush) Are there any maintenance rules. Can it be cut back into shape to control spread?

Donna Etchell - Old Coulsdon

A:Yes you can cut it back after flowering is over.
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Q:I had BAMBOO planted next to an outside wall within my garden and the wall is now cracking.Is this due to the bamboo,if so how do i get rid of it.

Wayne Ferguson - Basildon,Essex

A:Yes it is due to the bamboo plant coupled with the very dry and hot summer we have had. Cut the bamboo down to the grouind and treat the stump with Growing Success Deep Root or Dax Root Out, both of which are stump killers.
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