In a recent Pots & Trowels video, Martin Fish took the time to answer some of your burning gardening questions and shared his expert tips and summer gardening advice on everything from fuchsias to spinach, houseplants to tomato hanging baskets. You can watch the video below, or keep reading for all the top gardening tips from the man himself!
How do I take care of houseplants in the summer?
Here’s some of Martin’s top tips for keeping your houseplants happy and healthy over the summer:
- Make sure they don’t get too much sun. If you’ve got them on a full sun windowsill then take them back into the room a bit, out of the direct sunlight.
- Keep houseplants watered, as they dry out quickly in warm weather. If you have your plants in pots with no drainage, make sure that you tip any excess water out of the containers. If you leave water sat in the bottom of the container then it will rot the roots and damage your plant.
- Feed your houseplants regularly, about once every fortnight through the growing season. This will help to promote lush new growth and glossy foliage.
- Houseplants love to be misted as it makes them think they’re back in the jungle, so grab that spray bottle, take them onto a hard surface, outside, or even into the bathroom, and give them a good misting regularly. They’ll absorb that moisture into their leaves, it keeps them cool, stops dust forming and just generally freshens them up.
How do I keep my plants flowering for longer?
If you’ve got anything like fuchsias, pelargoniums or petunias growing in pots, then the secret to keeping them flowering is to deadhead them on a regular basis. As soon as the flowers start to go you can simply pick them off the plant by nipping them with your fingernail, a couple of times a week to keep it producing blooms. It’ll also just generally make your plants look neater.
With fuchsia plants, you can also go and discard any seed pods that are forming, as these pods signal to the plant that it’s time to slow down with the flowering – which is exactly what you don’t want!
If you’ve got any herbaceous perennials in your garden, such as salvia, then grab your garden snips and get pruning too. If the main spire of blooms has finished flowering on the stem, then cut that back to encourage the plant to focus it’s energy in to the remaining side shoots. If the side shoots have finished flowering too, then trim the whole thing back down to the one stem, under where the flowering stems were. This will then encourage the little side shoots towards the bottom of the stem to grow, and they’ll produce more flowers later on in the season before the whole plant dies down at the end of the year.
It’s important to do that snipping as if you don’t then you’ll get lots of dead flower heads, which can look quite attractive, but you won’t get any new flowers. So keep on top of pruning those dead flower heads and you’ll keep your plants flowering until at least September.
What vegetables and salads can I sow in the garden in late summer?
When it comes to salads there’s so many lovely and fast-growing varieties of lettuce, herbs, spinach and rocket to sow now and right through into autumn. Check out our friends at Mr Fothergill’s for your vegetable, herb and lettuce and salad seeds!
Container growing is great for growing these types of things on patios or balconies – it’s ideal if you’ve not got a big garden or haven’t got a dedicated veg plot. The containers don’t need to be very deep, just put some multi-purpose compost in there, thinly sow the seeds, lightly cover them, water them, and then put the container somewhere cool, in a shady part outdoors out of direct sunlight, to help them germinate. Then once they’re growing, you can bring them out into a lighter, sunnier position.
Once you’ve got some lovely baby leaves growing you can just pick them as and when you want, and they’ll keep producing for weeks!
Martin’s top tip is to get two or three containers and sow into one, then when the seedlings are an inch or two high, sow into another container and so on – also known as succession sowing. This way, you’ll get plenty of tasty leaves to pick right through to late autumn, even early winter time!
When should I feed my tomato plants?
Firstly, the secret to healthy tomato plants is water, water, water! Never let them dry out. You don’t want to overwater them, but the compost should always feel moist.
Feed your tomato plants on a weekly basis with a high potash fertiliser. The potash content will help the fruits develop, but more importantly ripen, so you get super ripe and tasty fruits later.
Don’t worry if you get any yellow leaves developing later on in the season, simply snap them off and add them to the compost bin.
Keep on top of watering and feeding and your tomato plant should reward you with an abundance of delicious fruits!
How can I help my agapanthus recover from cold winter weather?
The cold snap we had here in the UK during winter came very suddenly, and as a result has damaged quite a few people’s agapanthus plants that are planted out in the garden, causing them to not flower as well as they should. If this is you, then don’t panic! They will recover as long as they’re growing, and the key to helping them recover is to feed them.
Now is the time to build up the plant for next year, so feed, feed, feed, again with a high potash fertiliser like the tomatoes, that will encourage them to be strong and will induce winter hardiness to get them through the winter. More importantly, it encourages the little flower buds down in the base of the plant to grow, and then next year you’ll get wonderful flowers on your agapanthus.
Remember, if you want a question answering, leave it as a comment over on the Pots & Trowels Facebook and Martin will do his best to get to it next time!
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