Kim's Cottage Garden Plants
 Plants, Shrubs, Grasses etc for ornamental use only

Q&A's

 

There are many different effective products/remedies to choose from both chemical and biological in the constant battle against plant pest/diseases and in no way what so ever is it my intention to promote any specific product as being the best for the job. Any advice given below is based on my own personal experience.  It is given free of charge and in good faith and I cannot be held responsible for any loss or damage to any plant etc. resulting from the use of any such advice. All information/advice relates to ORNAMENTAL GARDEN PLANTS only. If in any doubt, your local garden centre should be able to help.

 


What does “Plant for Ornamental Use Only” mean?

"Plant for Ornamental Use Only” means a plant which is grown for decorative purposes. It is NOT edible.

 

What is a perennial plant?

A perennial plant is one which should live for a number of years. There are hardy perennials and half hardy or tender perennials. The former should require no extra protection in winter, the latter, however, will need protection to give it a chance of surviving. Most of the perennials I grow are classed as hardy. If I consider one to be tender, I will say so in the plant description. Growth of hardy perennials may die down and disappear in winter, but new growth should emerge the following spring.

 

What is a biennial plant?

A biennial plant is one which completes its life cycle in 2 years. This usually means plants grow in year 1 and then flower and die in year 2. Many foxgloves fall into this category.


What does deciduous mean?

A deciduous tree/shrub etc loses all its leaves/foliage each winter as opposed to evergreens which have leaves/foliage all year round. Semi-evergreens only tend to lose all their leaves/foliage in severe winters.


How can I prevent my buddleia from getting tall and leggy?

This is a common problem of Buddleia davidii (Butterfly Bush) a fast growing deciduous shrub found in many gardens. It is a shrub which requires hard pruning. In early spring cut back stems (just above a leaf bud) to 12"/30cm above ground level or, for drastic renovation, cut back stems close to base. Lavatera require similar treatment.


My ornamental garden plants are full of greenfly, what can I do?

Greenfly/blackfly (aphids) feed by sucking plant sap, resulting in distorted growth and weakened plants. They can also carry plant diseases. Surprisingly, I have very little trouble with these pests on my own garden plants (I presume the birds, ladybirds etc are doing their job!) I also find that small amounts of greenfly can easily be killed if I squeeze them between my fingers (taking care of course to not damage the plant!). If, however, I do find a plant particularly suffering, I am not opposed to using insecticide provided it works and I find ‘Provado Ultimate Bug Killer’ a systemic insecticide (it spreads systemically through the whole plant and gives about 6 weeks protection) very effective. It is available in a plastic RTU (ready to use) spray at garden centres, supermarkets etc. Please read information on the spray for limitations on what it can be used on. Also make sure you read directions and precautions before use.


What are lily beetles and how can they be controlled on ornamental garden lilies?

Lily beetles are bright red beetles found increasingly on garden lilies and some garden fritillaries. Their larvae (young) are horrible small brown grubs which feed on and can completely strip a lily of its leaves in a very short time. If you are not opposed to the chemical approach I find ‘Provado Ultimate Bug Killer’ (different from the one mentioned for greenfly above- this one comes in aerosol form) very effective. As with all insecticides please read aerosol for limitations on what it can be used on. Also read directions and precautions before use.


How can I stop slugs from eating my garden plants?

I doubt there is a garden anywhere in this country which does not have this problem. I certainly have my share of slugs! There are many different things you can try, slug traps, copper tape etc. but, I have to admit, I do use slug pellets particularly in spring when there is a lot of tender new growth and also when planting out bedding plants. Please note however, you only need to scatter the pellets very sparingly around your plants (space about 2”/5cm apart – not in mounds) for them to be effective. I use pellets by ‘Growing Success’ who claim they do not pose a risk to children and pets when used as directed. If slug pellets are a definite no-no in your garden, I have been told by a gardening friend that nematodes (a natural predator) work well. ‘Nemaslug’ is a well known brand which can be ordered over the internet, by telephone or by post. Details are usually available at garden centres. Another possible solution is to stock your garden with relatively ‘slug-proof’ plants such as Penstemon, Erodium, ornamental grasses and most (but not all) shrubs etc.


What is mildew and how can it be controlled on ornamental garden plants?

There are two types of mildew. I find the most common one on my garden plants is powdery mildew, which, as the name implies, looks like a white powder on leaves, stems etc. Some ornamental garden plants are more susceptible than others and I find they succumb to it most from mid summer onwards or after they have finished flowering. With Aquilegia, I have found sometimes it is enough to simply cut back and remove all the diseased foliage. New leaves should appear in a matter of weeks. If after this they are still suffering and for other ornamental plants with mildew I find a spray called ‘Fungus Clear’ very good. It is available at garden centres and it is also is effective in controlling rust (raised orange spots on leaves), a disease Hollyhocks are very susceptible to. As with all chemical based solutions please read instructions and precautions on spray carefully before use. The second, and in my opinion, less common type of mildew is downy mildew. This shows as greyish-purple mould on the underside of leaves. I have never found this disease a problem in my own garden but the garden centre should be able to help if you think you have a plant particularly suffering.

 

Are Cordylines hardy?

 Cordyline Australis originated in the Pacific, including (as the name implies) Australasia and I would always give some form of winter protection to the red and variegated leaf varieties.  The ordinary green leaved variety is far more robust and, in recent winters they have survived perfectly well without any protection.  However, many Cordylines suffered badly in the severe winter of 2009/10 when temperatures plummeted to -15C.  So basically I would say that if temperatures fall to below -7C it would be wise to provide protection.  (If the plant is not too big, draw up leaves and tie together and if grown in pots, bring close to the house. Alternatively, put in a greenhouse etc.)  Incidentally, my Cordyline is far too tall to do any of this and is in a relatively exposed position, but it came through the severe weather unscathed.)  For those of you who have not been so lucky, there is still hope for your Cordyline.  I have read that if the top growth is cut back by frost, the plants will sprout again from either the base or along the stem.

 

 What does "Protected by propagation rights" mean?

It is illegal to propagate i.e. from cuttings any plant, shrub etc. protected by propagation /plant breeders rights without obtaining a licence to do so.