GARDENING FEEDING is even more on the gardening agenda after the wet summer has leached nutrients from the soil.
It’s amazing how quickly we pass from deluge to drought — especially on sandy soils or those lacking in organic matter or mulch — and incorporating a feed during August really can improve blooms and yield.
It is too late for onions, which by now should be lifted and drying, and most potatoes, many of which have succumbed to late blight — which has been terrible this year — but all manner of other produce will benefit.
Watering is never more important than for container-grown plants, which may need it every day if we get substantial periods of full sun.
Adding some soluble plant food, such as Miracle-Gro, a seaweed feed or worm compost liquor into the watering can every ten days or so is just right to encourage strong flowering and great fruiting.
Keep an eye on flowering pot plants, such as fuchsias, cyclamen, begonias and primulas, for lack of vigour.
These are very susceptible to damage by black vine weevil that eat through the root system.
If you suspect these pests have invaded your pot plants, check the root systems for white horseshoe-shaped grubs with brown heads.
If you do find them, drench the compost of affected plants with BugClear Ultra Vine Weevil Killer.
It contains a systemic insecticide that will control a wide range of bugs that may be nibbling at the plant or sucking its sap.
Although deep-rooted perennial flowers, such as roses, cone flowers (helenium and echinacea), Tickseed (coreopsis) and false sunflower (heliopsis) are relatively drought resistant, they are not all immune to summer pests or diseases.
Roses are particularly susceptible to attack by greenfly and blackfly and diseases, including powdery mildew and rose black spot.
RoseClear Ultra is recommended with further treatments every three weeks to protect new foliage.
Rhododendrons should be forming flower buds for next year’s blooms as long as they have moisture at the roots and a suitable plant food to encourage balanced growth.
Commonly grown acid-loving plants also include heathers, pieris, blueberries and ferns.
Simply add a capful of nutrient-rich erricaceous concentrated plant tonic to each gallon of rainwater and wet the foliage and root area of these acid-loving plants every fortnight until the end of summer.
Rainwater is better because tap water has lime.
Regular feeding will ensure rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and other acid-loving plants produce better blooms next year.
Heathers, pieris, blueberries and ferns will benefit too.