Weekend Work: Time to spring clean house plants

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The Independent Online

What to do

Spring cleaning should be extended to house plants which have been on board wages all through winter. Take off dead leaves and wipe over the surfaces of large-leaved plants such as rubber plants with a damp cloth. Repot plants in fresh compost. They will not necessarily need larger containers. Ease away some of the old compost from the roots of the plants before setting them into the new mixture.

Indoor plants will now begin to need more food and drink. Remember, however, that far more fatalities are caused by over-watering than under-watering.

Some plants such as Christmas present cyclamen are at the end of their display. Put the pots on their sides in some cool place (under the staging of a greenhouse, if you have one) to allow the corms to dry off for the summer. They can be started into growth again in the autumn.

Indoor azaleas that have finished flowering can be be put outside. Azaleas are hardy plants, and are far happier outside than in. Plunge the pot in a cool, shady place and feed the azalea through the summer. Most forced plants need a season to recover before they hit their flowering stride again.

New growth is well advanced on autumn perennials such as michaelmas daisy and rudbeckia. Splitting and resetting congested clumps increases their flower power. It is a job that can be done in autumn or spring.

Continue to sow annuals. I am about to sow Gazania 'Harlequin Hybrids' (Thompson & Morgan £2.99). Given a half decent summer, gazanias are handsome additions to the garden. The daisy flowers are beautifully marked, with a dark disc around the yellow centre.

What to see

The Alde Valley Spring Festival opens today and runs until 3 May with exhibitions, walks and talks that celebrate links between food, farming, landscape and the arts. For details of Saturday morning walks (Wild Food on 10 April, Know Your Trees on 17 April) as well as the exhibition, A Sense of Place at White House Farm, Great Glemham, Saxmundham, Suffolk, go to foodadventures.co.uk