Gardening: Greedy little plants are worth the effort

Phyl Boyce


Phyl Boyce

Gardening: Greedy little plants are worth the effort

A tiger lily from Phyl's garden

PHLOX is a plant providing great colour in the herbaceous bed at the moment. Varieties of Phlox paniculata come in many shades ranging from white through pink to mauve and magenta.

They are greedy plants, needing lots of well rotted manure or compost when planted. Grow phlox in well drained soil in full sun. If some of the growing tips of the new shoots are pinched out when they are about 12 inches tall, the plants will grow bushier and produce more flowers over a longer period. A common problem with phlox is powdery mildew often caused by the roots getting too dry. This is no problem this year, the plant is thriving in the high rain fall. The powdery mildew can be reduced by planting phlox in an open airy place so that is good air circulation around the plant and keeping the roots cool with a mulch. Most phlox grow to 3-4 feet tall, while there are some varieties like phlox ‘drummondi’ which only grow to 6-8 inches in height and are suitable for a rock garden. The stems of the phlox are quite strong so they do not need to be staked. At the top of each stem, the five petal flowers lie almost flat, providing a comfortable landing for bees. The flowers are usually fragrant. Propagate all phlox by division in autumn or spring by dividing the clump and discarding the dead part at the centre of the clump. Phlox can be planted in the autumn or spring. Phlox paniculata ‘Balmoral’ has pink flowers, Phlox paniculata ‘Hampton Court’ has mauve-blue’ flowers, Phlox paniculata ‘Mother of Pearl’ has white flowers with a pink tinge.

Tigrida (tiger lily) is a plant from Mexico with a stunning flower in summer. The common name comes from the spots on the flower which look like the spots on a tiger. The foliage is similar to gladioli, it produces several flowers on each stalk, each separate flower lasts for just one day. The flower colours range from white, cream, yellow, pink and red. The average height of the plant ranges from 18-24 inches and will flower from July to October. Plant the bulbs 3 inches deep in a sunny position in spring. The plant is semi-hardy so cover with a mulch in winter.

Jobs for the week

Prune spring flowering shrubs now that have finished flowering. Any shoots that carried flowers can be cut back to shape the shrub and control its size.

Cut down the stems of bearded irises when the flowers have faded.

In the greenhouse continue to pinch out side shoots in tomatoes and when they reach the roof, pinch out the growing tip and continue to feed.

Continue to take softwood cuttings of shrubs and tender perennials, they root quickly at this time of the year to produce strong young plants that will survive the winter. Cut a section, about 4 inches long, from the top of a non-flowering stem. Cut the stem just below a leaf joint and remove the lower leaves so that two or three leaves are left on the stem. Dip the stem into hormone rooting power and tap to remove the excess. Using a pencil, insert the cutting into a suitable compost, firm it and water. Enclose the cutting in a plastic bag or propagator. Make a suitable compost by mixing equal parts of potting compost and sharp sand.

Hardwood cuttings of deciduous trees, shrubs and roses are taken from late autumn on, when the leaves have fallen off. Stems about 9 inches long are cut below a bud. The cuttings are inserted in a trench, in the open, that is sheltered from north and east winds. Place a layer of sand in the bottom of the trench to improve drainage. The cuttings are placed about 4 inches deep in the trench. The cuttings may take a year to produce sufficient roots before transplanting.