How To

How to…prune clematis

by Rhiannon James

Pruning, or cutting back plants to keep them in shape, is one of those jobs where it really pays to check before you chop as recommended timing and approach can vary enormously between different plants. Clematis, for example, fall into three basic groups based on when they flower, and each has its own specific pruning requirements.

How to…layer plants

by Rhiannon James

Sowing seeds and taking cuttings are two well-known ways to propagate plants: an option you might be less familiar with is layering. This is a method of growing new plants from stems that are still attached to their parent plant.

How to take cuttings: root cuttings

by Rhiannon James

Taking cuttings is a great way to turn a single plant into many more. While most cuttings come from above ground, it’s also possible to propagate some perennials, shrubs and climbers from cuttings taken from their roots. The method is really straightforward and can produce relatively large and vigorous new plants.

How to take cuttings: hardwood cuttings

by Rhiannon James

When you buy a plant, you’re also buying an option to grow many more, either by collecting and sowing the seed it produces or by taking cuttings – pieces of stem or root which will each grow into a new specimen.

How to take cuttings: semi-ripe cuttings

by Rhiannon James

Cuttings are a quick and easy way to multiply your plants. From a single shoot snipped off an existing plant, you can grow an entirely new specimen, making cloning your favourite foliage and flowers a doddle.

Deadheading: how and why to remove fading flowers

by Rhiannon James

Snipping off faded flowers in the garden isn’t just a job for the neat; it keeps plants blooming longer too. Plants use their flowers to produce the seeds they need to multiply. So if you cut off the flowers before the seed heads form, plants are often forced to get growing again and to produce more or better blooms. Preventing plants from setting seed also keeps them stronger and healthier.

How to . . . stake plants

by Rhiannon James

Staking is a job that it’s hard to feel any urgency about until it’s too late and your stalks have already snapped. One minute, stems are surging upwards quite happily, the next, overburdened by wind, rain or the weight of their own flowers, they have hit the horizontal.

How to . . . grow hardy annuals

by Rhiannon James

Hardy annuals are fast fashion for the garden: they’re cheap and only last for a season so they’re a great way to experiment and have some fun. You can use them as a quick fix for empty flower beds – so they’re perfect for new, rented and guerrilla gardens – but also to plug the odd gap amongst permanent plants and to add big bursts of summer colour to containers.

How to . . . get rid of weeds

by Rhiannon James

Like desperadoes in a classic cowboy film, weeds are leaner and meaner than their domesticated counterparts. They can ride into a garden uninvited, on the wind, attached to animals or hidden in plant pots, and quickly take over, stealing water, food and light from more delicate garden plants or crops. The best way to get rid of these plants is to tackle them early in the spring.

How to grow potatoes in pots

by Helen Babbs

Potatoes are cheap to buy and bulky to grow, so why bother if you have a tiny urban garden? I’d say it’s worth it because it’s really satisfying and it gives you the chance to eat exotic heritage varieties you’d never find for sale in the shops.