you are not alone. Here, experts answer the mysteries that often leave novice gardeners scratching their heads…
Can you grow a lemon tree from a supermarket lemon seed?
Yes – and it’s very easy, says Emma O’Neill, head gardener at the charity Garden Organic.
“First, take out the lemon seeds and wash off any residue. Float them in warm water for 10 minutes to see if the seed is viable. If it sinks, it’s viable. This also helps soften the seeds, which aids germination. They’ll germinate,” says O’Neill. Lemon seeds in a pot of peat-free compost on a warm windowsill.
“However, for a lemon tree to grow successfully in this country, it will need specific requirements. Citrus trees like a soil pH of 6 to 7.5, so it is best to grow them in a container so you can control the fertilizer mix. They also need low temperatures It ranges between 21-30°C in the day and 13°C at night, so you will need to move it to a conservatory or a warm, bright room in the autumn and winter to protect it.
Guy Barter, senior horticulturist at the RHS, adds: “They make vigorous green plants but are known to take many years to flower and fruit. They can be too large for some window sills and can be pruned as needed, but this will delay flowering further.”
What is the best way to get rid of slugs and snails?
“You can walk your slugs off-site into a garden or canal side, where they are less likely to return to your garden and will form part of the food chain for other creatures,” says O’Neill.
“But organically, we don’t like to throw them away and instead manage them as part of the garden ecosystem. Slugs eat decaying organic matter and are especially useful in a compost pile. I would suggest attracting natural predators like frogs, toads and birds to help you get rid of any surplus.
Barter adds: “Getting unwanted slugs over a garden fence is often futile, as they can return from up to 60 metres. Removing slugs from an area is usually followed by a rapid re-infestation.
“Avoiding growing weak plants such as hostas and petunias, and encouraging predators such as frogs and slowworms are sensible solutions in slug-infested gardens.”
Can you grow your own herbs from a supermarket herb container?
Yes, you can, by dividing them and planting them in peat-free compost, advises O’Neill.
“However, you must keep in mind that these plants have not gotten the best start, so they can often produce weak plants. Weeds are crowded in containers, travel long distances, come in many packages, and may have been sprayed with pesticides.
Barter adds that because they are grown in high-tech greenhouses that cover most aspects of the climate, and given the artificial light and plant food solution, they may not adapt well to normal surroundings.
“They are at risk when moved to a less ideal home environment, where conditions are difficult even in summer, and can quickly become fatal in winter.
“However, by providing good light, using some fertilizer – but not too much – avoiding over-watering, and dividing overcrowded seedlings and replanting them in peat-free potting compost sold for indoor plants, delicate grasses can succeed, especially if they are bright and not A very warm window sill or conservatory is available.
How do I know if I’m overwatering my houseplants?
Signs that you’re overwatering your plants, O’Neill says, are wilting or yellowing leaves, an unpleasant odor from the compost, and an increase in scientific flies that prefer humid conditions.
“Know the water regime for your specific plants. Many houseplants require higher humidity, while others prefer a dry period between waterings. I always use the finger test to see if it’s dry. Stick your finger a few inches into the compost to see if it’s moist at the bottom.” If so, leave watering for another day.
“Watering in a saucer is much better for the plant because it allows it to get water when it needs it. Wait half an hour, and if there is any left, pour it over the garden. Always use a small tray so you don’t overwater the plant every time.