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

Indoor plants will need more food and drink than during winter. Remember, though, that more fatalities are caused by over-watering than by under- watering.

Some plants, such as Christmas present cyclamen, are coming to the end of their display. Put the pots on their sides in some cool place (eg under the staging of a greenhouse) to allow 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 put outside now. Azaleas are hardy plants, and are far happier outside than in. Plunge the pot into a cool, shady place and feed the azalea through the summer. You may get blooms again before the spring is through, though most forced plants need a season to recover before they can get into their flowering stride again.

Split up large clumps of snowdrops and replant in smaller groups to increase their spread. A handful of bonemeal in the planting hole will provide long-term rations for the bulbs.

Choose hardy annuals to sow direct into the ground where they are to flower. I generally sow English marigolds, Calendula officinalis, this way. This year I'm trying prolifera (Chiltern, pounds 1.05), the hen-and-chickens variety with secondary flowers, borne on stalks that spring out just underneath the head of the main double flower.

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