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Ask Gerry : Flowers : Summer Bedding

Cosmos from seed

, acton Posted On: April 13, 2017

I have cosmos planted in trays in greenhouse that are now approx 2 inch tall but just two leaves on top and tall and string looking. What should I do next?

That's normal... the seedlings do look a bit lanky.

Presumably the seedlings have been pricked out spaced in celltrays trays or in small pots.

Then just be sure they are getting light.

Plant ID Please ?

, castleisland Posted On: April 5, 2017

I had this gorgeous plant – as per attachment – until it died recently. I dont know the name of it – can you help and identify this plant please and can you guide where i would be able to purchase it please.

It is a form of petunia, not frost hardy.

Most garden centres will haave petunias in May. 

overwintering begonias & pelargoniums

, Monasterevin Posted On: September 18, 2016

photo attached is one of my tuber begonias which I want to keep for next year. Can I overwinter it in an unheated greenhouse as a green plant or do I have to store it as a tuber (like a dahlia)? Will pelargoniums overwinter as green plants in an unheated greenhouse successfully or should I bring them into the house if there is a hard frost?

The shoots of begonias will fall away soon after they get touched by frost. They last longer in a greenhouse but eventually yellow and fall, adn the tubers can be stored under cover.

Pelargoniums will suffer some damage in an unheated greenhouse, how much depends on how low temperatures fall and for how long. They must be frost-free and would be better indoors in hard frost.

Geranium new plants

, Skerries Posted On: September 16, 2016

Yesterday I planted new geranium plants from branches of old plant dipped into rooting powder and planted in small pots , just wondering should I keep them outside and how many days it would take to have roots .

Geranium (pelargonium) cuttings are best made in early August and need a window sill indoors now.

plug plants

, ennis Posted On: April 11, 2015

can i buy a small quantity (40-50) of annual bedding flowers for pots and baskets (lobelia,trailing surfinia,etc.)in plug form anywhere in ireland.i want to finish growing them in my glasshouse

Some garden cenres now stock these, such as Orchard in Celbridge and Newlands in CLondalkin. Perhaps some places more local to you also do so.

flowers in hanging basket

, Tynagh Posted On: August 7, 2013

see photo enclosed that are growing in a hanging basket Can you tell me what they areI know one is a geraniums but the not sure what they are

 Those are China asters, an annual, not a true aster but related.

leaves of calibrachoa turning yellow

, rathcoole Posted On: June 4, 2012

I have some calibrachoa planted in window boxes with good quality compost along with a bit of vermiculite, swell gel and slow release feeding. I have them planted up for about a month or more but have noticed where the leaves of some of them are turning yellow and wonder what could this be. They were planted up in the greenhouse and were taken outside about a week or so ago. Some of them don’t seem to have been affected and have kept their good green leaf colour.

 Callibrachoa is like a small version of petunia. When leaves turn yellow prematurely, it is a sign that conditions are not ideal ... too cold, too dry or too wet compost.

They may have got a set back going out but should grow out of it, Some plants may have been a bit stronger and not suffered, or conditions were right. Check watering is okay.

Cut back Molimba?

, Portadown Posted On: January 14, 2012

I have 3 types of Molimba which done really well throughout the summer. They are now looking very hard done by over the last month and wonder if they should be cut back and if so when would be the best time to do so. I am new to gardening so not sure of these things.


Molimba is a brand name of the Paris daisy or marguerite, Argyranthemum frutescens.

It is a tender plant for greenhouse use or outdoors in summer and early autumn.

Frost can kill it outright or at least make it look very shabby.

It is easily grown form cuttings taken in late summer and overwintered as small plants indoors in a greenhouse, porch or sunny windowsill.

The existing plants may be trimmed back in spring but may also be too far gone at this stage. 



, dungarvan Posted On: October 18, 2011

what is the best time to lift geraniums to store for winter


Geraniums can be lifted in October and potted up or placed in trays in groups with compost to cover the roots. They can be kept in a greenhouse or shed with some light.

It is not always very successful as the lifted plants often suffer damage by grey mould fungus.

It is much more reliable to take cuttings of geraniums in early August and have small neat healthy plants to overwinter.

Lifting plants is far more effort, and not as reliable, but can succeed. 


bedding dahlia tubers

Posted On: September 21, 2011

My bedding dahlias have formed tubers.Is it possible to sow these tubers next April?


This is possible when the plants grow well. adn they can be saved, though kept frost-free and will grow again. Though peopel don't usually bother, starting with new plants.

Saving container plants

, Dublin Posted On: September 10, 2011

I have some hanging. basket plants which I would like to save – Dichondra Silver Falls & Trailing Verbena Lanai Early Scarlet. I think they’re perennial in warmer climates but is there anything I can do to safely overwinter them here ?


Both of these can be propagated from cuttings taken in August. You might still manage it, and the young plants can be overwintered in small pots on a window sill indoors or a frost-free greenhouse.

Insect eating violas

, carrick-on-shannon Posted On: July 21, 2011

I have pots filled with marigolds and violas. Some insect is eating the buds of the violas, can you suggest a spray to prevent this happening. I keep slug pellets around the edge of the pot.


Snails could be in the plant and feed at night and pellets around the pot are no good. Or it might be small caterpillars.

hanging baskets

, Greystones Posted On: July 9, 2011

I planted several hanging baskets with Surfinas and Petunias. The plants were all growing well but in one basket plants suddenly started to die off one after the other. I replaced some of the dead plants but after a few weeks the replacements began to die off too. All other baskets seem to be doing OK. Could it be some sort of disease confined to one basket and if so in there anything I can use to treat the other baskets if the plants in these start to die?


This is probably due to one basket getting drier than the others for some reason... or possibly vine weevil larvae that have affected the roots in one basket and not in others.

Wilting calibrachoa in window box

, rathcoole Posted On: July 4, 2011

I’ve just noticed that a healthy calibrachoa I have in a window box is quite limp and wilted. The culprit is probably the white fly I noticed at the base of the plant. I’m wondering what’s the best way to get rid of these pests and will the poor plant come back to itself again. Regards


 Calibrachoa, or small-flowered petunia, have most likely run short of water. Pests may have contributed to this wilting. Be sure that water applied is actually penetrating the root ball and not just flowing down the sides. If there are greenflies, probably not white flies but the skins of greenflies. White flies are unusual outdoors in Ireland.

If there are greenflies in numbers, apply a a garden insecticide as directed.

Flowers with purple leaves

, Dundrum Posted On: June 29, 2011

Hi Gerry – I have panseys, alyssum and dwarf sunflowers growing in pots and they are suffering with purple leaves and are generally unhealthy looking. Same thing with window boxes: instead of full healthy growth I have scraggly plants with purpling leaves. Erin Premium Compost with added John Innes used in all cases. Watering every 2-3 days. All in full sun. Any ideas?


These plants are starved of nutrients.

Most modern composts only have about 4 to 6 weeks plant food in them and liquid feeding is essential, every week or ten days, if slow-release fertilizer has not been added at planting time.

petunia pruning for the winter

, kilkenny Posted On: June 25, 2011

I have 2 wonderful pots filled with purple and white petunias. They are growing rapidly and over taking the small shrub I planted in the middle, which I dont miond for now as they look amazing. Whilst I can prun back now – how do I prepare them at the end of the summer when flowering has ceased for the winter? Do i cut back to the base?


Petunias are summer bedding flowers and will be killed by frost outdoors and not flower again.

You can however take cuttings of petunias in August from shoots that have not flowered and keep the young plants indoors over wnter until the end of May next.

Flower Ball

, Marino Posted On: June 17, 2011

I have just done a Petunia Flower Ball and it turned out great. Now i am trying a Busy Lissie Flower Ball and it is just not taking off, have you got any suggestions as to what I can do.


Make sure it is not dry and if it is moist, give a foliar feed with a spray of Miracle grow or similar at half strength on a dull day or in the evening.

black spot on pansies

, Midleton Posted On: May 22, 2011

I have some pansies in a tub but they have a something like black spot on them. I was told “Get rid of them, dump them”.I only moved the tub to an empty corner because the plants looked ok (except for the spots) and they were flowering really well. Should I dump the tub, do you think? Or will the plants recover if I spray them? But with what?


Pansies are prey to a range of leaf spot dieases, more in winter than summer. These can cause the folaige to rot and the plants to fail.

Place the tub in a sunny spot with good air movement, go easy on watering and see if they pick up.

If they don't, then dump them, as spraying is not a runner.

feeding summer bedding plants

, rathcoole Posted On: May 18, 2011

I’ll be planting up some window boxes and baskets shortly and will be adding some slow release granular feed to the compost. If I feed them later on in the summer with tomato plant food would they benefit any more from this or would it instead be too much feed for them? Best wishes and thanks.


Slow release fertilizers are designed to last several months and additional feeding is not likely to be needed.

But if you think the plants are slowing down and looking a bit hungry later in summer, use a general purpose liquid feed, such as Miraclegrow or similar.

Geranium and Red Leaf

, Leixlip Posted On: May 18, 2011

I seem to have a good flowering red geranium at present. The leaves of this geranium have turned red. What is it lacking?


It may have got a touch of cold but it is probably also lacking water, at some stage, and feeding. But do not over-feed as it can then make leaves instead of flowers.

summer bedding safe from frost

, cork Posted On: May 8, 2011

Im wondering is it safe to plant out summer bedding or is there still a risk of frost. When will I know it is safe. I live in mid cork


There is always some risk until the end of May but in Cork it would be a very small risk.

cats damaging planted containers

, mullingar Posted On: April 28, 2011

Is there any truth that moth balls repel cats from your plants?


Some cats dislike the smell of moth balls. Cats only settle where comfortable.

There are sonic cat scarers that emit a high-pitched sound but these do not always work either.

Window boxes

, rathcoole Posted On: April 15, 2011

Every year I look forward to planting up window boxes, using mostly petunia, calibrachoa and lobelia and marigold. I’d really appreciate any tips you might have to get a really nice healthy and long lasting display. I wonder what might be the best type of compost to use. I’ve seen the ‘miracle grow’ brand which is especially for containers and baskets but it’s quite expensive and I have a lot of containers to fill. Spacing of plants is another query I have.I’m inclined to sometimes become over enthusiastic and put too many plants in the window box. I was also wondering about vermiculite and perlite. Would adding them to the compost help to give a better flower display, I wonder?


A good general compost for potting is half unsterlized garden soil and half bag compost, or good well-rotted garden compost. Add a fistful of general fertiliser to each 10 litres of compost ... measure with a 10-litre bucket.

Pot up plants according to their eventual size, allowing more room for bigger kinds. Use some foliage plants, such as heuchera or hosta, which can later be planted out in the garden. 

Potting Plants

, Wicklow Posted On: April 15, 2011

Just wondering if you could recommend some flowers that would be suited to potting. I am looking to fill three troughs roughly 150cm in length and am loking to display in partial shade. As much colour as possible is the aim as this is a rather glum area at the minute.


In mid-April there is till a risk of frost and it is too early to pot up summer bedding.

Bedding begonias and bedding busy lizzies are good in partial shade.

Trailing Geraniums

Posted On: April 13, 2011

Where can I buy trailing “Happy face Mex”, “cascading red” and “balcony” geramiuns, they are available in UK as plug plants but they do not deliver to southern Ireland.


Particular varieties can be hard to find. Try the garden centres and they might have useful substitutes. Or if you really want those particular ones, get them delivered to a friend in Northern Ireland. The postal charge is the reason for not delivering to the Republic.