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Herbaceous perennials

Help solve your gardening problem. Here are the answers to some commonly asked gardening questions about herbaceous perennials with hints, tips and advice.

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We were given a hosta. Although its leaves remained a beautiful green through summer, they turned a bright shade of yellow and rotted in autumn. Please help if you can.

Panic not! This is natural. Hostas are deciduous - that is they loose their leaves in autumn. I'm sure it will come up as normal in spring.

The leaves and young stems of my perennial phlox plants are deformed and the leaves are reduced to narrow frills. What's wrong?

Your plants have been affected by phlox eelworm, which can be difficult to control.

However, phlox are attacked by an eelworm that invades the stems, so those already present in the plant wouldn't be touched. And there isn't an insecticide available to gardeners that can be used to kill those already present in the stems.

Funnily enough, stem eelworms don't attack the roots and one way to propagate affected plants is to take root cuttings - the new plants will be perfectly healthy.

Root cuttings are normally taken in winter, but it may be worth taking them at any time if you feel the plants are on their way out.

Any new plants bought or propagated should be planted in fresh soil away from the existing clump.

I have a plant called Phytolacca americana. Each year it seems to get bigger and is now getting out of hand. Can I take cuttings and start again? If so how do I do this?

Phytolacca is propagated by dividing plants in spring. Simply lift the plant, carefully split the crown into smaller sections each with as many buds as you want - the fewer the buds, the smaller the resulting plant will be - and replant.


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