Besides providing the right situation and sustaining
balanced soil conditions, you can encourage your
plants to grow with more vigour and provide a
more rewarding display by a little additional
Some plants, such as certain annuals, will
flourish naturally and need little or no attention,
but others respond, depending on their growth
characteristics, to being supported or guided,
lightly trimmed or regularly and judiciously pruned.
Keeping plants in trim
Annuals, biennials and perennials are less demanding
than trees and shrubs.
Alyssum and lobelia,
for example, grow side shoots naturally and flourish
without any helpThis will promote side shoots
and produce a busier growth.
To encourage larger blooms on each side shoot,
disbud plants su, as do plants which grow only
one stem with a terminal flower.
Plants such as antirrhinums,
however, benefit from having their growing tips
removed (called ‘stopping’) when they
are 3-4in high, as do chrysanthemums,
Break off all flower buds from
a cluster except the top, or crown, bud.
Remove any weak and stunted plants, leaving enough
space between the remainder for them to develop
To extend the flowering season, remove
the blooms as they fade (called deadheading) so
that the plant’s energy is concentrated
on producing new blooms rather than seeds –
unless you wish to harvest the seeds.
either by nipping off the flower, or for plants
with single, bare flower stems such as red-hot
pokers, as close as possible to the base.
heads of small flowers when the whole cluster
Tall-growing plants often need some kind of support,
especially if they are in an exposed position.
Twigs at about half a plant’s eventual height
can be placed around or between plants, or you
can use metal or plastic supports obtained from
a garden shop.
Place supports at an early stage
of the plant’s development so that they
will be hidden as the plant grows.
Support young trees and shrubs with wooden stakes
and tree ties.
A stake firmly driven into the
ground with about 2-3ft exposed will keep the
roots and lower trunk stable, but leave the top
free so that the tree can cop on it’s own
when the stake is removed.
Use longer stakes for
trees trained as standards, as these tend to be
Most climbers need help to attach themselves to
their support, such as wood, metal or plastic
trellis, plastic mesh
stretched between wooden battens, or horizontal
wires attached to hooks.
If there is no suitable framework, some climbers
will grow through trees, or up a vertical pole
in the open garden.
Other climbers need not help.
For example, many
ivies produce aerial roots to climb with, while
Virginia creepers support themselves with suckers.
See our section on Garden
Equipment for purchasing plant maintenance
and garden equipment online