Thursday 19 April 2018

Readers' questions

Marie Staunton

Is it possible to grow Camellias in a pot?

AProvided you give them the right sort of compost and water them regularly, they will be happy enough.

Camellias prefer acid conditions, so get some ericaceous compost in the local garden centre and mix it with soil to give it a bit of weight and better drainage. Add some slow-release fertiliser suitable for acid-loving plants, then place the pot in dappled shade and enjoy one of the most beautiful spring-flowering plants, even on a small balcony.

Try the Camellia 'Donation' (pictured above), a lovely double-pink flowered variety, or 'Nagasaki', which has a beautiful red flower that is often striped white.

If you want to plant one in your garden but your soil isn't compatible, create a little acid bed. Dig out a section about 1 sqm and dig down to a depth of 30cm, or a little more if you're feeling energetic. Line the sides, not the base, with plastic to stop lime leaching into the bed and back fill with a mixture of ericaceous compost and your garden soil, and that will help create the ideal conditions for any acid-loving plants

QCan I prune my clematis now? It is really overgrown.

AThis very much depends on the type of clematis you have but, as a rule, C Montana can be cut back after flowering to restrict the size of the plant, as they tend to take over. Just cut back to a pair of healthy-looking buds and take out any damaged stems.

If the clematis is one that flowers in summer, for instance 'Nelly Moser' (pictured above), then March is the time to remove any dead or damaged stems. Cut back the rest of the healthy stems to a pair of strong buds, roughly 1m above the soil level.

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