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6 Feb 2020

Top gardening problems during February

Let the Which? experts help solve your seasonal gardening problems

The experts at the Which? Gardening helpdesk have been busy answering the questions of Which? Gardening members.

February is still a quiet month in the garden but it's a good time to tidy borders, mulch the soil and start sowing hardy veg indoors from mid-month onwards.

If you have gardening questions, you'd like our experts to answer, you'll need to subscribe to Which? Gardening magazine, either online or by calling 029 2267 0000.

1. Are there any clematis that flower in winter?

Clematis are a wonderful group of climbers that you can truly enjoy year round. Winter-flowering ones include C. cirrhosa and its varieties. 'Freckles' is the best known and has cream flowers that are heavily speckled with maroon. You may also see C. cirrhosa var. balearica, which has lighter freckling, and 'Jingle Bells', which doesn't have markings. They're quick-growing plants and reach around 3m over time. In addition to these, there is C. urophylla 'Winter Beauty', which has nodding, white, bell-shaped flowers. Plant it against a sheltered south-facing fence or wall as it can killed by very cold conditions.

2. How do I attach bubble insulation to my greenhouse?

Bubble-wrap insulation is a good way of keeping the worst of the cold out of a greenhouse during winter. Be sure to use insulation that is sold for this job, not packaging, as it's UV-stabilised and shouldn't deteriorate as quickly when exposed to the light. For wooden greenhouse frames, use drawing pins to attach it. For metal frames, you can buy specially designed plastic fixings, but these can sometimes be fiddly to use. An alternative is to clip the insulation to the frame using clothes pegs.

3. How do I get the best results from my heated propagator?

The temperature inside a heated propagator is generally about 10°C higher than the room temperature, so it's best to put your propagator in a cool room and out of direct sunlight as they can warm up rapidly on a sunny day. Also, don't fill the propagator tray with compost. Instead, put your seeds and cuttings in trays or pots of compost, then put in the propagator. Use a maximum/minimum thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature; you're aiming for about 20-23°C just below the compost surface.

Discover our Best Buy composts for sowing seeds.

4. I've bought a greenhouse heater, but after reading some poor reviews I'd like to return it. What are my rights?

Your entitlement to return will depend on how you purchased the greenhouse heater. If you bought it in store, then you'll only have a right to return if the seller's terms and conditions allow you to.
If you purchased it from a catalogue or through a website, then you'll have 14 days from receipt of the item to return it, or longer if its terms and conditions allow. You must comply with its T&Cs, which normally require sending back an unused product in the original packaging. If you can't comply, check for further rights in any satisfaction guarantee. The T&Cs should also dictate who pays for the return delivery. If they don't, the company must bear the cost.
If there is a breach of contract, eg there is a fault with the item or it's not as described, you can use a range of remedies contained within the Consumer Rights Act 2015. These include the short-term right to reject within 30 days of purchase or receipt of the goods, or the right to a free repair or replacement lasting up to six years.
Get more information about your consumer rights.

Visit the Which? Gardening helpdesk for advice about all things gardening.