Solution of the month
Q How can I overwinter my Echium candicans? JOHN MEASE, NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE
A Echium, or pride of Madeira, is a tender, shrubby plant with 30cm (12in) blue flower spikes in spring and early summer. In mild coastal areas it can be kept outside in well-drained soil, but in most parts of the UK it should be treated as a potted plant and overwintered under cover. However, it only needs frost protection, not high temperatures, to survive. Dig it up and plant it in a pot of John Innes No 3 compost, then move it into a greenhouse or conservatory to protect it from frost. In late spring, when all chance of frost has passed, move it into the sunniest spot in your garden. Callistemon subulatus (bottle brush) and Trachelospermum jasminoides (star jasmine) need similar treatment. See our feature Tuck up tender plants for winter on p36 for more guidance.