CUTTINGS

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The Independent Online
Margaret Little from Hythe in Kent has been having difficulties with her frangipani and, having passed on to her all that I knew, I solicited letters from readers who might be able to shed light on the problem. Unfortunately, there seemed to be more who shared Ms Little's frustrations than those who had cracked the frangipani's flowering code.

Polly Isaacson writes from London N7 to say that she has had a frangipani for more than 15 years. "It is about 5ft high and spends most of its life as a smooth tube with branches, each ending in a knob. As these knobs begin to sprout, there is a hopeful daily inspection to see whether a flowerbud is forming among the leaf infants. Well, not every year and never on every stalk. Sometimes the flowerhead emerges, only for the buds to drop off. Sometimes spider mite gets it. Sometimes we cover the buds in plastic bags to counteract winter central heating. Sometimes we are rewarded: this year with three large flower clusters which bloom for months.

"In summary: indoors in the light for winter, outside for summer, plenty of food. In its leafless, budless state grow morning glory up it. Any bits that break off can be potted up. It has been a constant interest and, when it blooms, an absolute triumph."

Lorna Roberts of London N2 says: "As Ms Little is getting an annual crop of leaves, she obviously knows not to water until they appear. I thought I saw leaves, watered and lost two of my four plants this year.

"At first sign of leaves, I spray with water and a Magic Liquid Plant Food which I bought from the Ideal Home Show. It comes from Roberts's Inc, PO Box 630, Shelbyville, IN46176, USA. It consists of phosphorus peroxide (18 per cent), potassium oxide (7.4 per cent) and nitrogen (9 per cent)."

Thank you to everybody who wrote in. There are evidently a lot of frustrated frangipani owners out there. How about trying a nice Swiss cheese plant instead?

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