Paraic Horkan on Radio 1 – 11/11/15

This week on the Today with Sean O’Rourke Show, gardening expert Paraic shares his advice on topics such as plant care and plant of the month as well as a host of other gardening queries from around the country.


poinsettia photo

This is our traditional Christmas plant to decorate the home – available in shops and garden centres right throughout the country. Make sure to buy Irish as these Poinsettias dont like too much travel.
Originally from Mexico the Poinsettias require plenty of light, warm and airy areas so it is advisable to place them somewhere like a window sill and water them roughly once a week for best results.

How Can You Tell If They Are Irish?
When purchasing the Poinsetta you’re looking for a really bushy strong plant with a nice bit of colour showing and with the flower buds still intact.

How Long Should The Poinsettia Plant Be Kept For?
Generally speaking, the Poinsettia should only be kept for one year as they have to go through a very specific light treatment to get the vibrant colours we see at this time of year.


Plant of the Month –
 Mahonia Winter Sun 

A winter flowering shrub, the Mahonia Winter Sun has beautiful bright yellow flowers that  blossom right through the winter and into the spring. The Mahonia is an outdoor shrub,an  evergreen, and retains the foliage all year round. This time of year is perfect for planting as  conditions are ideal and its lovely colouring will last up until March or April of next year.




The Skimmia is a great winter shrub.It contains beautiful red berries for the feastive season and birds dislike this particular plant so you can rest assured the berries will remain throughout the winter period.The Skimmia can be planted outdoors in pots,containers and shrub boarders for extra colour and will not be effected by the elements.

daffodil photo

Tete a Tete Daffodil
This daffodil has been fooled into thinking it’s spring time as we’ve brought it into flower a bit early.The Tete a Tete are available in all garden centres and provide a beautiful splash of colour over the Christmas. As well as the Tete a Tete, Hyacinths also produce a lovely fragrance and vibrant colours and will flower indoors over the coming weeks creating wonderful scents.


Potato Scabs
Potato scab is not uncommon at this time of year as a result of the wet summer we’ve had and varieties such as Kerrs pink is particularly susceptible to potato scab at this time.Potato scab is a scab that forms on the skin of the potato but the good news is that it does not harm the potato as it is surface born and remains entirely edible,so no need to throw them away.However, it is advisable not to keep the seed for re- sowing next year and to look into purchasing scab resistent seeds,which can be bought from garden centres nationwide come January.


What Is The Best Organic Fertiliser To Use In Raised Beds In A Pollytunnel?
The best one to use is probably an Irish product called Seamungus.Its based on seaweed and poultry manure and is very good for vegetables, herbs and fruiting plants,just mix it into the soil as it granulated,rake it in and plant your vegetables and plants into it.


How Often Do You Need To Be Putting Granulated Fertiliser On?
At this time of year you won’t be adding any fertiliser to the soil as the plants are slowing down,however, come March and April you will dig it into the soil before planting.For hungrier plants like cabbage or potatoes which needs lots of nutrition, you can give a second application later in May.


Will My Olive Tree Harm My Foundations?
No, the olive tree will not harm your foundations as they are a very fiberous rooting plant. They do not produce strong tap roots as such so it will be perfectly okay.

When Do I Prune Buddleia?

Now is a really good time to prune your buddleia as they have been flowering right  throughout  the summer and respond very well to severe pruning. It is also a great time to  take cuttings from  buddliea and many other garden shrubs like hydrangeas which will take  root from that process at  this time of year. Simply dip the stems in rooting powder and you  have got yourself some new  plants.

Plants like hydrangea and buddlieas can be kept outdoor at this time of year. The best thing  to do  is get a large 12 inch pot,mix compost and pearlite together and you will fit roughly  12 or 20  cuttings comfortably.Be sure to use rooting powder as that is the key to  stimulating new roots.They will then root over the winter period and be ready for planting  in March and April and May of next year.


The Cutting Globe 
Fill the cutting globe with compost, put it around the stem of the plant and it will induce and encourage the plant to produce plants.It can be used on difficult rooting plants such as rhododendrons, and skimmias.It is a really simple device and you can have several of these cutting globes on the same plant at any one time.


Vine Weevil
Vine weevil  are small female beetles that feed at night time.They are a common garden pest but can often attack indoor plants.The characteristic damage is U- shaped notches bitten out of the side of the leaves.
Depending on how bad it is you can use a pesticide to remove the beetle, or simply let them loose outside if you see them on the edge of the pot.


How to Trim Cone Shaped Lalandia
If you are not taking too much off the lalandia you can start to prune at this time of year, as pruning them now will allow you to keep that lovely cone shape right up to spring.


The key aspect with lalandia is not to prune them too severly,so roughly 4-6 inches off the sides and top of the plant.When pruning do not go into old wood as the plant will not be able to re-shoot.So now is the perfect time to trim the lalandia to enable it to keep a nice tight shape throughout the winter.


Problems with Bamboo?
If you are having problems with your bamboo, be it the plant has turned brown in colour or the leaves have gone, it is probably as a result of the plant coming under some form of stress. The bamboo grows rigouriously,producing underground stems and can fill a pot  quickly and easily, therefore if the pot is too small or suffers drought, it will cause defoliation.However, the bamboo is a very resilliant plant and you will find that come spring the plant will re-shoot again.

Prune out dead branches in April of next year and do check that it is not pot bound or that it has run out of nutrition.The plant will be fine for now, it is going into dormancy so there is no need to feed it,they are slowing down and the sap is returning to the root.Start to nourish it from March or April and consider moving into a larger pot next year just to give it a little more space.The plant will regenerate itself next spring.

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