Our Head Gardener Answers Your Questions

If you can’t visit Covent Garden at the moment, we are bringing the garden to you. Introducing a Q&A with our Head Gardener hosted on the Covent Garden Instagram. Having issues with house plants? Want to spruce up your space? Scroll down to find the answer.

Q: What are the best edible plants to grow in a window box with lots of natural daylight?

A: Great question and good news, you have lots of options. Cut and come again salad, baby carrots, baby beetroot, spring onions, tumbling tomatoes or hundreds and thousands tomatoes which are specially created for baskets and boxes.

Q: What house plants are the easiest to keep alive?

A: Mother-in-Law's Tongue is a super easy house plant to care for, as are the Kentia Palm and Bird of Paradise but they must be kept in a sunny spot. Orchids are great for a house but please don’t over water them! They only need to be watered once a week; place the pot in the sink, pour a full glass of water into the soil and then allow to drain fully. Phalaenopsis Orchids and Cymbidium Orchids are both good growers.

Q: My lavender tree is looking a bit dead and all the leaves have dried – is there any way to revive it?

A: A lavender plant with brown leaves is not good. Scratch the bark to see if it has green underneath, this will tell you if the plan is still alive. If it isn’t green then sadly it won’t recover.

Q: Can I grow cherry tomatoes at home in pots in an outside space without much direct sun?

A: The saying is tomatoes like a lot of light, but I have known them to thrive in slightly darker conditions, however, tomatoes like to be warm. Cherries grow well in spaces that don’t receive light all day so that could be an alternative option to grow at home if you want to try something. If you really want to give tomatoes a go, I'd recommend purchasing an artificial LED light to help.

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Q: Do you have any tips to nurture and strengthen herbs grown indoors?

A: Herbs love a good sunny spot first and foremost. Then regularly pinch the top part of the herb to use, this will encourage the plant to grow side shoots. Also, good drainage is key so ensure the soil is damp. If you really want your herbs to thrive, feed them with a liquid feed every few weeks or based on the label’s instructions.   

Q: I live in Covent Garden, could I grow veggies in my window box or it is too polluted?

A: Well did you know that Covent Garden has some of the cleanest air in the West End? I always think about the air when planting, looking at ways we can counteract CO2 emission with the plants we use.

In regards to pollution for your planting, if you can get the window box high it will help as pollutants hover at ground level. With that being said, give it a grow! There is no reason they won’t grow even if the window box is roadside.

Q: Where do you get your inspiration for your displays?

A: A lot of places! Sometimes they are seasonal, like Christmas and Halloween. Pre-lockdown I was travelling every weekend to discover new plants and gardens to learn and get inspired. I love to create displays that make people excited to experience.

I also get inspired by the Market Building itself, I feel like it changes with the seasons and constantly gives me new ideas.

Q: The grass in my garden is patchy, what can I do to help it grow better?

A: Buy some seed and sprinkle a bit of compost, then the seeds on top and finish with another layer of compost.  Water the grass and watch the lawn grown. You could also potentially look at aerating the lawn too.

Q: How do I take care of my house plant?

A: If in doubt, Google it. The RHS Plant Finder is also a great resource. For house plant it needs to be 'The right plant in the right place'. Top tip for keeping your house plant whatever it is alive; not many plants like direct sunlight and always water less than more.

Q: What are the best small plants for a windowless bathroom?  

A: All plants do need even a little bit of light but you could try Monstera Adansonii, Philodendron or String of Nickels who do well in low light and humidity.

Q: How do I stop ants from attacking my plants?

A: You need to disturb the ants, so pour cold water on to the affected areas regularly which should encourage them to go elsewhere

Q: Should I be misting my house plants?

A: Actively clean indoor plants’ leaves as that will help the moisture and for leafy indoor plants, yes I would mist a few times a week. Don’t mist succulents but clean their leaves!