Notes from Gardeners’ World April 26th 2019

With warmer weather on the horizon, Monty makes a start on getting some tender veg underway, recommends plants which thrive with very little water and gives tips on the spring maintenance of houseplants. 

With the increasing popularity of houseplants, Nick Bailey spends the day at Kew exploring their cacti and succulent collection to find out more about how we should take care of them, Adam Frost is in Lincolnshire helping a family transform their front garden into a more interesting and usable space, and Arit Anderson travels to Faversham in Kent, to find out how the town has used innovative ideas to reduce their plastic use.

There’s also a visit to a nursery in West Sussex to get expert advice on how to get the best results from growing citrus in pots.

The programme starts at Long Meadow in the Dry Garden. Monty adds a Verbascum which should be able to tolerate the dry, drought type conditions. They tend to be biennial but he’s adding a variety that’s a perennial (so it will come back year after year), it’s called Christo’s Yellow Lightning, it was discovered by the late great Christopher Lloyd from Great Dixter

Verbascum ‘Christo’s Yellow Lightning’
Cephalaria gigantic Giant scabious

Arit Anderson visits Faversham in Kent to look at the plastic pot problem and solutions.

PosiPots – made from unbleached low grade cardboard. Plants grown in black plastic pots are decanted into the PosiPots when they are sold. They can then be planted in these pots and they rot down within a few days and the plant starts to root through it.

Nick Bailey visits Kew to look at their cacti and succulent collection

Sales of cacti have increased by 50% in the last year in the UK. Succulents are inexpensive and easy to grow.

Crassula portulaca Jade plant
Mothering Laws Cushion – Echinocactus grusonii, Golden barrel cactus
Opuntia microdasys ‘Albata’ Bunny ears cactus

Likes a room of 21 degrees in summer but in winter likes to be cooler so keep it away from the central heating.

Mammillaria geminispina Twin-spinded cactus
Euphorbia canariensis Canary Island spurge

This looks like a cactus but is actually a succulent from the Canary Islands.

Lithops Living stone

This looks like a good plant to grow with the children, Lithops is a succulent called Living Stone.

Dioscorea elephantipes Elephant’s foot

How do you know when to water a cactus?

Put your finger into the soil in the pot, about an inch deep. If the soil is at all moist then don’t water.

When the soil is dry then thoroughly water and then leave again until the soil is dry.

Visit to the Citrus Centre, Pulborough, West Sussex.

Over a 150 varieties

Citrus medica var. diditata Buddha’s hand citron
Citrus x uranium Tangelo Group Ugli fruit
Citrus medica Citron

Only prune hard in the spring. Citrus fruit on old and new growth so pruning is more about maintaining shape and bringing some vigour back to the plant. They will take a light pruning at any time of year.

They like being outside in the UK over summer and just need a light frost free home in the winter.

The plant must be left to almost completely dry out between watering and then a good watering. Also, feed with nitrogen fertiliser when you water.

Three recommended citrus plants for beginners:

Citrus x microcarpa Calamondin orange

Use like a lemon or a lime and makes delicious marmalade. This plant produces a lot of bite sized fruit.

Citrus x limon ‘Four Seasons’ Lemon
Citrus x latifolia Tahiti lime

Back at Longmeadow, Monty is sowing tender vegitables


Monty sows in potting compost rather than seed compost as they are so greedy. They will need heat to germinate.


Use plugs – don’t use a seed tray because you’ll upset the roots.

Climbing Beans

Jobs for the Last weekend in April

  • Sow Parsnips – they can be slow to germinate
  • Plant some radishes
  • Weed your borders
  • Sow Sunflowers – Monty plants Velvet Queen for the jewel garden, to be planted out at the end of June.

That’s it for this week. If you would like to see notes from previous Gardener’s World programmes click here, or checkout my Monty Don Reading List and Gift Guide here.

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