Paraic Horkan on Radio 1 – 26/02/16

shamrock photoThis week on the Today with Sean O’Rourke Show, gardening expert Paraic talks about Shamrock, Mothers Day, and preparing your garden for Spring.

The weather has improved, the soil is getting warmer and dryer. There are seedlings germinating, grass is growing, but so too are the weeds. Lots to be done this month!


We are proudly selling shamrock for St Patrick’s Day! We currently have fresh Irish Shamrock available in Garden Centres, and online at You can wear it for St. Patrick’s day, and then plant it afterwards. It is a perennial so it will come back year after year if you plant it. It is from the same crop of Irish Shamrock delivered to the American President by our very own Taoiseachs and Presidents annually in the White House.

hydrangeas photo Mother’s Day

 Mother’s Day is fast approaching, on the 6th of March, and we  currently have some lovely flowering plants available. Double pink  flower Hydrangeas are just coming into flower now, and will be for the  next few weeks, at which point they can be planted outside for next  year.

Also outdoor plants like Camellias are a lovely option, and available in a variety of colours. They flower from mid February right up until the end of May.

Cymbidium Orchids are always a beautiful indoor option, available now coming into flower. Absolutely beautiful, purchased as cut flowers they can be inexpensive but are so easy to grow. A lovely time of the year to put an Orchid in the home.

Double flower Begonias and Magnolias are lovely options also.

seedling photoIndoor Sowing

Our weather is finally improving, and it is now time to start sowing in preparation for Spring. There are lots of things to sow including herbs, vegetables and flowers.

Its time to get seed potatoes sprouting so they are ready for planting in the middle of March. Indoor conditions are ideal, a greenhouse, conservatory, tunnel, or an old shed with a bright window. Get the earlies sprouting now so they will be ready to plant outside mid to late March.

For seeds anywhere like a greenhouse or conservatory will do, but our own homes are perfect, as they give the seeds the warmth they need. Simply sow the seeds into some moist compost, cover with some polythene or clingfilm, and place on your favourite sunny windowsill.  They will germinate in a few weeks and be ready to plant outside in late Spring/Early Summer. It’s a perfect time to start some tomatoes, chilies, peppers, or herbs like thyme, parsley, and oregano.

Flowers like marigolds, geraniums, and petunia, and red flowering begonias are all perfect for growing from seed now. Alternatively, you can purchase baby plants from Garden Centres to plant indoors now, planting out in late Spring.

blueberry photo Outdoor Planting

 It is a great time for planting fruit trees outside in the garden . The soil  is dryer  and warmer at the moment, and planting now will allow the  roots to develop before major growth starts in the garden. Some good  things to plant would be rhubarb, apple or pear trees.

Another great idea is to plant some blueberry trees. A great variety is  the Darrow blueberry. It is self fertile so you can plant it in pots or  planters, and you only need one plant. Its an attractive shrub, flowering in April, and producing fruit from June to Autumn. The fruit themselves are nearly the size of grapes, and blueberries are considered an antioxidant, high in both vitamin K and C. The only consideration is the Darrow likes acidic conditions (like the West of Ireland), or lime free soil.

Other options would be peach or nectarine trees. These would need some cover: a greenhouse, conservatory, or tunnel, somewhere protected. These will flower beautifully in mid March and the fruit will be ripe around April.

Now is also the time time for planting hedging, whether you want it for a screen, protection or privacy. Bare rooted trees are available right now. These are grown in the soil in nurseries, not in pots, and then transplanted to your soil. Because of this they are available inexpensively, in store right now. Consider varieties like Beech, Laurel, or Griselinia. Remember to get them in early before major garden growth starts.

Is there any way of getting rid of Oxalis Weed?

Oxalis is a low growing weed, similar in structure to shamrock. Any proprietary weedkiller, like Weed free 360, will eliminate it if its growing in border soil. If its growing on the lawn, you can use something like Dicophor which will kill off weeds without affecting the grass. Maybe, don’t spray yet, allow the weeds and the grass to grow and then spray at the end of March. Of course if its in border soil, you can always just get the hoe out on the next fine day!

Addvice on Agapanthus, my plant seems overgrown, should it be divided?

 A nice, easy plant to grow. This is the perfect time of year to divide a plant. Dig it up, split it into two or three parts,and then replant it into other areas of the garden, or give it away as presents. The extra space will bring it back into flower. Feed it with a good high potash feed, something like Rose fertiliser, in April.

General advice on when and how to prune shrubs?

The pruning of plants is determined by the month in which they flower.

Focus on summer flowering shrubs right now. Hydrangeas, roses, spireas, anything that flowers from June to through to early Autumn can be pruned now.

Spring flowering shrubs should be pruned after they flower in summer. When you prune you should also feed as well, as the plants need nutrition to go back into them, and apply fertiliser  to encourage growth. Another suggestion to be to apply a winter wash before feed.

Any way to deter cats/dogs/foxes?

Scent off pellets give off an odour which discourages cats and dogs. Simply spread these pellets around your garden to deter animals. These pellets will wear off eventually so you may need to re spread. Another solution would be to plant some thorny bushes or plants around the edge of your garden.


What can I do with rhubarb at this time of year?

At the moment rhubarb should be six or seven inches tall, ready for picking in three or four weeks. I would suggest fertilising around the base to help give a boost. I would recommend something like Osmo Pro 6 or another pelleted fertiliser, the rain will wash it in. This should help give you nice juicy rhubarb!

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